Back to school? Court considers regular education for judges

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LANSING — The Michigan Supreme Court is seeking public comment on a proposal to require annual education courses for judges.

The court says the goal is to ensure proficiency about current law, integrity on the bench and administrative skills. Judges would be required to fulfill a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education each year.

The program would be supervised by a Judicial Education Board with judges from different courts.

Justice Richard Bernstein said ongoing education is a good goal. But he said he's concerned that a mandatory program would turn into a hardship for an "already burdened judiciary."

"We should respect the autonomy of individual judicial officers to choose for themselves; the government should not seek to intervene in these individual decisions," Bernstein said.

Justice Stephen Markman supports the effort to get public comment. But he raised many questions, including how education programs would be "neutral and even-handed in their influence upon substantive judicial perspectives."

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