Mich. Supreme Court Picks Chief Justice

On January 6, 2011, in News Stories, by bobyoung

New Chief Justice Says Trial Judge Must be Cut

Associated Press

DETROIT – Robert Young Jr. was chosen chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday, and he immediately declared that he would recommend that lawmakers cut the number of trial judges because of an extraordinary state budget crisis.

Young, a conservative from the Detroit area, was chosen during a private meeting of the court. He refused to release the vote, but Republicans are back in the majority, 4-3, after the fall election.

In an interview with The Associated Press, he jokingly referred to his new post as being a “fire hydrant in the dog pound.”

“You are the administrative head, both of the court and the third branch of government,” said Young, 59, who was re-elected to another eight-year term in November.

He wants Michigan to consolidate its county courts where possible and eliminate many judgeships due to declining population, caseloads and a lack of money. Young said the Supreme Court recommended getting rid of 20 slots in 2007 but lawmakers refused.

“We’re now years past that with a yawning budget crisis,” said Young, adding that a new report soon will recommend even more cuts.

Young and newcomer Mary Beth Kelly were elected in a Republican sweep of Michigan’s top offices. Former Justice Elizabeth Weaver campaigned against him and disclosed that Young, who is black, had used the N-word during a private conference with other justices in 2006.

Weaver said she had proof because she secretly recorded the court’s discussions while participating by conference call. After the election, the court sent her a letter of rebuke.

Young said he won’t ask Weaver to surrender any tapes or transcripts.

“It’s time to leave and bury the past and move forward,” he said. More change is looming at the court.

Justice Maura Corrigan is expected to resign soon to lead the Department of Human Services under the new governor, Rick Snyder, who would then name her replacement.