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Mich. Justice Hathaway To Retire Amid Real Estate Scandal

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A lawyer says embattled Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will retire on Jan. 21.

Attorney Steve Fishman, who represents Hathaway, told The Associated Press that Hathaway filed the paperwork on Dec. 20. He made the disclosure Monday after a judicial watchdog agency filed a complaint and asked the Supreme Court to suspend Hathaway over a series of suspicious real estate transactions.

Fishman said the Judicial Tenure Commission was told about Hathaway’s retirement in December. He said the filing of the 19-page complaint was a “gratuitous” move.

Any suspension would have been determined by her six colleagues at the Supreme Court.

The commission says Hathaway committed “blatant and brazen” violations of professional conduct in the 2011 short sale of her  Grosse Pointe Park home. Hathaway and her husband, Michael Kingsley, put a debt-free Windermere, Florida home in the name of a relative but then regained the property when the Michigan sale was completed.

WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton says that he’s not surprised by the timing of the retirement.

“Justice Hathaway’s resignation does not surprise me; the charges are way too serious for her to continues her job as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court,” Langton said. “It’s too important of an office, and when you have these kind of allegations hanging over your head – there is just no way she can effectively do her job.”

Langton says Hathaway may not be out of the woods yet.

“What’s interesting here … although the resignation may eliminate some of the Judicial Tenure issues – it will not eliminate any potential criminal issues and it will not eliminate the fact that she is still being sued by the federal government,” said Langton.

Federal prosecutors said the Michigan short sale erased a $600,000 debt and that ING Bank was unaware of the property shuffle. No charges have been filed, but the government filed a lawsuit to seize the Florida home.

The couple has denied any fraud.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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