Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016
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Michigan appeals court nixes recusal motion

LANSING - The Michigan Court of Appeals this week rejected a motion to disqualify judges from deciding a challenge to a sweeping ballot measure that would cut judges' pay and cost some their jobs.

Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment had argued that seven of 28 judges on the appeals court shouldn't hear the case because they would lose their jobs if the proposal makes the November ballot and is passed by voters.

Opponents led by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce had accused the Reform Michigan Government Now group of improperly shopping for judges.

A three-judge panel rejected the recusal motion, citing the "rule of necessity" letting judges hear a case if every judge otherwise may have to be disqualified. Judges Bill Schuette, William Whitbeck, and Patrick Meter dismissed the ballot group's attempt to distinguish between judges who would lose pay and those who also would be cut from the bench.

The measure would roll back judges' salaries 15 percent, reduce the appeals court by seven judges - six of them Republicans - and kick two GOP justices off the Michigan Supreme Court, among other things.

Democrats and unions behind the proposal support it in part as a way to redraw legislative districts to favor Democrats after the 2010 census by lessening the influence of Republican-controlled courts that review redistricting plans.

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