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Traverse City, Michigan

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Tim Smith
Tim Smith
Attorney • 231-946-0700

Supreme Court Justice Cliff Taylor Posts Failing Grades

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Anyone who has ever looked for a mechanic to fix their car or perhaps a doctor to treat a family member, they have often asked friends and acquaintances as to their experiences with a particular auto body shop or physician. If the mechanic or doctor has received good reviews, more often than not, you end up using that mechanic or doctor to fix your particular problems. Recently, the state wide periodical that caters solely to attorneys polled those members who had appeared before Michigan Supreme Court to assess the performance of the seven Supreme Court Justices. Current Chief Justice Cliff Taylor finished second to last in what can only be described as a failing grade.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly polled attorneys who have appeared at least once in the last six years in front of the Michigan Supreme Court. They were asked to rate the Justices on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) in eight different areas described as “Judicial Characteristics”.

Chief Justice Taylor was ranked dead last in the areas of “Overall Knowledge of the Law” and “Thoroughness of Opinions” which are the written opinions where each of the Judges explain why they ruled as they did. Justice Taylor’s overall rating of a 2.91 had him only 6/100th of a point above Justice Robert Young, Jr. who was the lowest scoring Justice at 2.85.

What does this tell us? It tells us that it’s time for a change. Justice Taylor is up for re-election this November and the complaints not only from attorneys in this poll, but also from his own fellow Justices about his behavior on the bench and legal abilities seem to be justified. It’s time for a change. At this point, I don’t know who, if anyone, will run against Chief Justice Taylor, but I can’t imagine that the candidate could perform more poorly than our current Chief Justice has performed during his tenure on the bench.

The funny thing is, I’ve talked with attorneys and non-attorneys. I’ve talked with Republicans and Democrats. I’ve talked with folks that are pro-tort reform and those that are against it and nearly everyone I’ve talked with recognizes that Justice Taylor just isn’t cutting it on the Supreme Court bench.

Remember this when it comes time to vote.