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Law School Study Ranks Michigan Supreme Court In The Cellar

June 13, 2008

Chicago, IL – The "verdict" is not a good one for the Michigan Supreme Court. A University Of Chicago Law School ranking of the nation's 50 state supreme courts lists Michigan's at the bottom. The research combined such measures as judicial independence from political or outside influences, its numbers of published opinions, and how often the court's decisions are referenced in rulings by other courts.

Traverse City attorney Tim Smith is concerned about the impact the report will have on the state's image.

"As an attorney, I can't disagree with it and I can't say I'm surprised. And, as a member of the State Bar of Michigan, I'm embarrassed."

Smith says the report is the most objective analysis of the Michigan Supreme Court of which he's aware.

"Looking at it simply from an analytical standpoint, they did a very fair job. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ended up being exposed for what it is by these objective measures."

Smith points to a purported lack of judicial independence as the report's most glaring finding. He adds the Court seems to be especially supportive of businesses, based on how it has split on many business-related decisions.

Recent national Chamber of Commerce reports have given the Michigan Supreme Court high rankings. The members of the court have not yet responded to the study, which may be read online at www.law.uchicago.edu/files/405.pdf.

Jim Mishler/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MI