State Supreme Court Justice to Resign

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan will quit to become head of the state's welfare agency under new Gov. Rick Snyder, The Associated Press learned Monday.
An announcement by Snyder was expected this week and Corrigan likely would leave the court by Jan. 14, said a person who is familiar with leadership changes at the Department of Human Services and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Corrigan, a 62-year-old conservative, has been on the Supreme Court since 1999 and was chief justice for four years. Conservatives are back in the court's majority, 4-3, after the fall election.
Corrigan's departure means Snyder, a Republican, will pick his first Supreme Court justice just days into his administration. The court is expected to meet in private Wednesday to discuss cases and select a chief justice.
Corrigan has been deeply involved in children's issues and has received numerous awards in that category. She served on the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care and is on the board of directors at Vista Maria, a residential program for troubled girls in suburban Detroit.
Corrigan did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The Department of Human Services has been under pressure in recent years as more Michigan residents hurt by the recession seek public assistance. The department is under a 2008 consent decree to improve the state's foster care system but received poor marks in the latest report.
A New York-based group called Children's Rights, whose lawsuit led to the settlement, had been so frustrated that it planned to ask a judge to put child-welfare programs into receivership. The group, however, backed off at a December court hearing and said Snyder deserved a chance to turn things around.
Under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Michigan agreed to hundreds of new hires to reduce the caseloads of workers who oversee children in foster care or protective services. But the state has being falling short of several benchmarks and more than 1,300 DHS employees are retiring.
In a 2006 interview with the AP, Corrigan discussed with distress the circumstances of children who leave foster care without being adopted.
"I would never have dreamed of dumping them out at age 18 on the street with nothing. But this is what our system does," she said.
The last Supreme Court justice to resign was a maverick Republican, Elizabeth Weaver, in August. Granholm appointed Alton Davis, putting Democrats in control, 4-3, but the power didn't last long: Davis was defeated in the November election that swept Republicans into power and left office last week.


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