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Michigan Supreme Court Justice continues to throw mud.

Former AAA lawyer and current Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young continues to engage in verbal sparring with his colleagues.  It wasn't too long ago that Young and then-Justice Elizabeth Weaver aired their dirty laundry in public.  When Weaver retired, Justice Young's truculence did not.  This week, he suggested that his colleagues were elevating their own prejudices above the law when they suggested that Progressive Michigan Insurance Company was in substantial compliance with the law.  Under Michigan law, an insurer that wishes to exclude liability coverage for a particular driver must make clear to the policy holder that the vehicle owner will remain "liable" if the excluded driver causes an accident while driving.  Progressive, whose marketing campaign has over-extended its legal department in most phases of Michigan practice, used the word "responsible" rather than the word "liable" in its notice to insureds.  One Court of Appeals judge and several Supreme Court Justices suggested that the Progressive notice was either substantially in compliance with the law or a question of judicial discretion. 

Pompous Justice Young quoted his own obscure Oklahoma City University Law Review musings to castigate these other judges for their "shocking departure from the rule of law."  He suggested that "all Michigan citizens should be extraordinarily troubled by any judge who advances the notion that the rule of law must be enforced unless a judge finds an outcome in a particular case to be one of which he personally disapproves."  He concluded: "The rule of law requires a judge to be subservient to the law itself, not the law to be subservient tot he personal views of a judge."

Two Democratic nominees to the Court and Republican nominee Justice Markman both pointed out that when Progressive substituted "responsible" for "liable" in its insurance policy notice, it was fully in compliance with the Legislature's intent as well as the statutory language, and that the judges' disagreement with Justice Young did not warrant the ad hominem attack that Young perpetrated on his fellow judges.

Sadly, with strong cash backing from insurers and the Chamber of Commerce, we continue to elect judges who are thoroughly divorced from the very characteristics that most people associate with the judiciary:  that is, logic, common sense and a sense of justice.  Add to that a lack of humility, and our judiciary is in an ugly state.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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