In the United States, every individual is considered innocent until proven guilty. All Michigan residents should be aware of their rights to a vigorous defense. While judges are typically in the position of presiding over cases involving accusations of fraud, a Michigan Supreme Court justice finds herself defending herself against such allegations in a federal civil case.

The justice was not facing any criminal fraud charges as of a Nov. 21 report in the Detroit Free Press. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on whether she or her husband, who is facing the same allegations, would be charged in the future.

However, federal prosecutors did file a civil complaint on Nov. 20 claiming that the justice and her husband hid assets to justify the short sale of a $1.5 million home in Grosse Pointe Park. Prosecutors noted that such civil allegations do not necessarily lead to criminal charges. An attorney for the justice said she would fight the forfeiture of a Florida home federal prosecutors claim was hidden from a bank to justify the short sale, the Free Press reported.

According to the civil complaint, prosecutors allege that the couple transferred the title of a home in Florida to the daughter of the justice's husband before seeking a short sale on the Michigan home. That allowed the couple to deduce close to $600,000 in mortgage debt from their Michigan home. That home sold for $850,000.

While no criminal charges have been filed at this time, the Free Press report noted that hiding assets to justify a short sale could be considered illegal. While this matter will continue to be investigated, anyone who is facing the prospect of possible criminal charges should be aware of their full rights in a court of law.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Judge in real estate scandal says she'll fight to keep home; denies stepping down," Tresa Baldas and Kathleen Gray, Nov. 21, 2012