Much has been written on this site about self proclaimed "Rule of Law Judges" in Michigan. These folks, by an large, have received their first judicial experience, not by election, but by virtue of appointment by former Michigan Governor John Engler (who reigned from 1991-2002).
These judges have created the label, "Rule of Law Judge" and applied it to themselves. They will state that their job is to apply the law as it is written, and not how they might want it to be. A great benefit of this alleged "philosophy" is that those who don't agree with a "Rule of Law Judge" can be condemned as rogues who make up law based on personal whim.
A great campaign tactic, a great catch phrase for bumper stickers and billboards.
In practice, "Rule of Law Judges" have made up more law in the last 25 years than their collective judicial predecessors did in the previous 100. If we need a label for these judges, I'd prefer "Creationist Judges".
The purpose of this post is not to rehash the entire "Rule of Law Judge" issue. It is, rather, to highlight a recent (bizarre) example pf a favorite "Rule of Law" tactic, the use of the dictionary as the basis of a legal ruling.
When faced with a law they don't like, "Rule of Law Judges" will refer to a dictionary of their choice to redefine a statutory or contract reference in a way that suits the "Rule of Law Judge's" preferred result. See:
Last month a local Circuit judge (an Engler appointee and a Tea Party endorsee in the last election) was faced with a motion wherein the parties were disputing the provisions of an insurance policy, specifically the meaning of a specific policy term. Plaintiff's interpretation favored coverage, the defendant's did not.
Rather than accept the law and cases cited by the Plaintiff, or the law and cases cited by the Defendant, the judge said both sides were wrong. The judge had found the correct definition of the disputed term on....wait for it.....WIKIPEDIA!!
From the Wikipedia site:
"Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity."
So, the authoritative source of a judge's ruling is an internet site, written by anonymous volunteers, the only requirement being internet access.
Wikipedia, where up to six in ten articles contain factual innacuracies.
Wikipedia, that has reported living people as dead, respected journalists as complicit in the Kennedy assassination plot, and other memorable blunders: 25 Biggest Blunders in Wikipedia History.
I am sure the Wikipedia definition suited the judge's notion of what he/she wanted to rule in the first place.
Wikipedia now joins the arsenal of weapons used by Michigan "Rule of Law Judges" as they create new law (while proclaiming themselves to be the law's protectors).
In the near future, I expect we will see Michigan "Rule of Law Judges" authoritatively define "Michigan Winter", in premises liability cases, by reference to the Farmer's Almanac.
When you see the "Rule of Law" label, be afraid...be very afraid.