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After a two-month stint punctuated by controversy over his appointment, former Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Michael Talbot and Michigan State University have parted ways.

Talbot said he’s still willing to assist the university with its Title IX compliance, but scheduling conflicts made it difficult to take a more active role in the university's development of a system to give respondents in sexual misconduct cases the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.

A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling last fall required universities nationwide to develop such a system. 

Talbot was hired in February to oversee six cases that would serve as the framework for the procedure, but he had only conducted pre-hearings for two of the cases as of Friday, he said.

“We kept bumping into problems,” Talbot said, noting the Title IX cases were not subject to the same strict scheduling and case management rules that a court case may be.

"I’m still willing to help in the sense of case management, but I think they need someone in Lansing," said Talbot, who lives in Metro Detroit.

First reported by Michigan Advance, the end of the contract between Talbot and MSU came a little more than two months after it was approved.

The university had a long-term plan of transitioning its Title IX hearings to hearing officers with the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules in Lansing, spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said. When scheduling difficulties developed with Talbot, MSU decided to move up the timeline for that transition to meet court-ordered deadlines for implementing the changes.

"We appreciate the time and help Judge Talbot has given MSU the past few months as the university works through these complicated changes to sexual misconduct matters," Guerrant said.

Talbot’s appointment at MSU created waves earlier this month when state Attorney General Dana Nessel raised concerns about the hire and a Republican lawmaker accused her of anti-Catholic sentiment because of her opposition.

Talbot, an appointee to the Court of Appeals by former Gov. and MSU President John Engler, is the chairman of an Archdiocese of Detroit review board tasked with internal reviews of sexual abuse complaints against priests and personnel. He also helped oversee the Diocese of Saginaw’s response to abuse allegations last year after a Catholic priest there was arraigned on sexual assault charges and the prosecutor’s office formed an investigative team to review other potential clergy sexual abuse claims.

After Talbot’s appointment at MSU, Nessel’s office released information about a grievance filed against Talbot by a Saginaw County prosecutor following a heated exchange between them related to a search warrant and raid at the ailing bishop’s home.

Nessel’s office failed to say in its press release that the Attorney Grievance Commission dismissed the complaint against Talbot.

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, said Nessel’s animus toward Talbot and earlier comments regarding her investigation into the Catholic Church was evidence of “a disgusting pattern of anti-Catholic discrimination emerging from our attorney general.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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