Lansing Attorney Seeks to be First Native American Supreme Court Justice

Makeup of Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of Michigan. It is made up of seven justices who are elected to serve eight-year terms on the bench. The Court is located in the state’s capitol, in downtown Lansing. Justices run as non-partisan candidates that are supported by political parties. While they don’t actually run with a party affiliation next to their names, political ads on all sides make it clear what side of the political aisle they are in line with. It is common to see multiple judges together in ads in an effort to elect multiple justices together when it is possible. If a Supreme Court justice is not able to complete their term for any reason, then the sitting governor will appoint a justice who will serve out the remainder of the term, however long it is. Once that term ends, the seat opens up again, but the appointed Justice gets the honor of running as an incumbent candidate. Running as an incumbent is often seen as a huge advantage in judicial elections, where incumbents usually win. There are two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court that are going to be available for this coming election time. One belongs to Chief Justice Bridget Mark McCormack who is seeking re-election, and the other belongs to Justice Stephen Markman, who will not be seeking re-election because of his age. The Michigan Constitution does not allow judges to seek re-election once they have hit the age of 70. If they turn 70 during their term, they are allowed to finish out that term.

Attorney Profile

Lansing attorney Katherine Mary Nepton is seeking to be the first justice on the Michigan Supreme Court with Native American roots. She has received a nomination from the Michigan Libertarian Party to run for the Michigan Supreme Court with their support. The 37-year-old attorney unsuccessfully ran for the Michigan Senate as a Libertarian in 2018. At the federal level, there have only been three judges with Native American roots in our country’s history. Nepton is a legally recognized member of a tribe whose primary base is in Quebec, Canada. According to statistics from 2014, there were 1.2 million licensed attorneys working in the United States at that time. Just over 2,600 of those attorneys were indigenous with Native American affiliation.

What Happens Next?

The Democratic Party has already nominated Chief Justice McCormack along with Grand Rapids attorney Elizabeth Welch to run in the general election this fall. This is expected to be a crowded field with a number of other attorneys seeking the nomination from the Republican Party as well. Court of Appeals Judge Brock Swartzle, along with Former St. Clair County Prosecutor Mary Kelly are seeking nomination from the Republican Party which will be determined at the Michigan Republican Party state convention which is scheduled for Aug. 29th. Each party is limited to two nominees who will appear on the ballot this fall. The Michigan Libertarian Party has also nominated Redford attorney Kerry Lee Morgan along with the aforementioned Nepton to run for the two open seats on the Michigan Supreme Court. While the actual vote for Supreme Court justices is non-partisan, the backing and campaigning of the candidates will be largely along party lines.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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