Michigan Supreme Court names Elizabeth Clement as new chief justice

Elizabeth Clement is the new chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Clement was the unanimous choice of her colleagues on the court. She takes over from Bridget McCormack, who is leaving the court as soon as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, picks a successor.

Supreme Court justices are selected by governors when there’s a vacancy or elected by voters. The additional job of chief justice is determined by members of the court.

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Clement was appointed to the court in 2017 by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and elected to an eight-year term in 2018.

The chief justice is the leader of Michigan’s statewide judiciary and has much influence over how courts operate.

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“There’s a lot of work outside the opinion work and, frankly, just as important for the judicial branch,” Clement said Monday. “The Supreme Court makes rules that impact all of our trial courts, lawyers and those who interact with the justice system.”

Clement said she expects to remain as chief justice in 2023-24.

She was a key member of a state commission that studied how juveniles are treated in the justice system. Recommendations released in July included alternatives to keeping kids in custody and creation of a statewide public defense system. Lawmakers would need to have a role in many changes.

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