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michigan supreme court

Can a politician who breaks the law be forced to quit his job and be ordered not to run again?

That question could interrupt the Michigan Supreme Court’s summer recess.

The Michigan Supreme Court this week said “not yet” to a group trying to stop fracking in Michigan.

The group, The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, is now on its third attempt to get a question on the ballot to ban the controversial process used to drill hard-to-reach pockets of natural gas.

Joan Larsen faces a tangled path to a plum spot on a federal appeals court. The only thing standing in her way is Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.

Michigan Supreme Court
photo courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court says religious schools cannot claim a blanket exemption from being sued for violating anti-discrimination laws.

A family sued a Catholic high school in Oakland County. They say the school violated an anti-discrimination law by refusing to admit their daughter because of a learning disability. Among other things, the school argued its operations are protected by religious freedom rights.

Michigan Dept of Corrections

  DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at the case of a Detroit-area man who was convicted of murder based on DNA.

  The issue is whether Johnny Ray Kennedy's rights were violated when a judge refused to appoint an expert at public expense who could help the defense.

  DNA was critical to the case, especially because Kennedy was charged with murder 20 years after the crime. Prosecutors had two experts who could talk to jurors about DNA but Kennedy had none at the 2014 trial.

LAW
user southerfried / morguefile

The Michigan Supreme Court convened in Lansing this week.

Whether or not a student can sue a religious school under the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act was one question before the Court Thursday.

Bettina Winkler was a student at Notre Dame Marist Academy middle school. She was denied admission to the affiliated high school. Winkler says it’s because she has a learning disability.

Nicholas Roumel is Winkler’s attorney. He said Winkler was the only middle school student that wasn’t accepted to the high school.

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Supreme Court is hearing arguments in an unusual case involving a hospital, privacy and a personal protection order.

Tammy McNeil-Marks was fired in 2014 as a clinical manager at MidMichigan Medical Center in Alma. The hospital says she violated privacy rules when she told her lawyer about a patient in the hospital.

It turns out that McNeil-Marks was concerned about her safety because she had a personal protection order against the woman. The woman was served with the order while in a room.

Subterranean / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court is hearing arguments in an uncommon case: Can courts intervene when religious schools reject students?

Churches and faith-based schools operate with broad protections under the First Amendment. But this case raises questions about whether a student claiming discrimination can overcome that legal threshold.

The parents of a girl who was rejected by Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac say she was illegally turned down in 2014 because of a learning disability.

Fraser home falling into the sinkhole.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A $3 million grant to fix the massive sinkhole in Fraser was at the center of a battle in the state Legislature this week. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the fight over the funding, which sparked a row between Macomb County Public Works commissioner Candice Miller and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekoff before ending in a stalemate.

Courtesy Photo / Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. announced today that he will retire by the end of April.

In a statement released by the court, Young says that he is proud of his accomplishments during his time as Chief Justice. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report is raising questions about transparency in Michigan Supreme Court elections.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says in 2016 so-called "dark money" helped the two Republican incumbents outspend their Democratic challengers by more than 30 to one.

Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Supreme Court is considering making changes to rules about how complaints against judges are handled. 

And critics say some of the changes would make it harder to go after judges accused of violating the judicial code of conduct.

The Court proposed the changes for consideration on August 11, 2016, and since then has been accepting written comments from the public. The court held a public hearing on the proposal on January 17, 2017.

Michigan Hall of Justice
Phillip Hofmeister / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Supreme Court has named a new chief justice.

Justices unanimously chose Stephen Markman Friday as the new chief. He'll succeed Chief Justice Robert Young, who's held the job since 2011.

Markman was first appointed to the court in 1999 and re-elected in later years.

In a statement issued by the court, Markman says his primary responsibility is to make sure the system of justice is "made readily and fairly available to all."

Judge's gavel
Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the rights of criminal defendants to have an attorney during their preliminary exam.

Gary Lewis was convicted of multiple arson charges in 2014. During his preliminary examination, Lewis’s attorney was taken off the case, but the preliminary exam continued anyway.

Now, the Michigan Supreme Court is going to hear arguments on whether Lewis’s conviction should be overturned. He was found guilty at trial.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) - The families of two sisters whose snowmobile plunged off a cliff on Mackinac Island in 2010 will get a chance to take their case to a jury.

The Michigan Supreme Court last week turned down an appeal from Arctic Cat, the snowmobile maker, although two justices wanted to hear the case. It means a key decision by the state appeals court will stand.

Michigan Supreme Court

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The outgoing chief justice of Michigan's Supreme Court is pushing to move the state's jury duty system to one that eases wait times.

  Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. tells the Detroit Free Press that Michigan's jury process is "extraordinarily stupid," as people often get called for jury duty only to sit around in a courthouse before being sent home.

  Young says jury duty is an important obligation for U.S. citizens and that the court shouldn't burden them by wasting their time.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

The ballot recount in Michigan is over. This time, it’s for good.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry take a look at the short-lived recount and some of the problems it exposed at the polls, particularly in Detroit. They also look at a bill that would make it legal to hunt wolves in Michigan if the bill makes it through this year’s lame duck session in Lansing.


Michigan's Hall of Justice.
Eridony / flickr

The two races for Michigan Supreme Court have gone to the incumbents.

Michigan Supreme Court Justices Joan Larsen and David Viviano held onto their seats on Michigan’s highest court.

Larsen defeated Wayne County Judge Deborah Thomas and lawyer Kerry Morgan. Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Larsen to the court in 2015 to replace a justice who resigned. She's now been elected to serve the two years remaining on that term.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is interested in the case of a student who was rejected for admission at a Roman Catholic school in Oakland County.

  Under Michigan legal precedent, courts have steered clear of certain decisions made by faith-based schools, saying it would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

  But the Supreme Court last week told lawyers to file arguments about whether that 1994 ruling should be overturned. The order lists other issues, too. It's no guarantee that the court will take action.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Two judges from the Detroit-area are challenging Michigan Supreme Court justices Joan Larsen and David Viviano.

  The two races are the most significant races for statewide office on the Nov. 8 ballot.

  Larsen was a law professor before she was appointed to the court last year by Gov. Rick Snyder. Viviano, a former Macomb County judge, has been on the Supreme Court since 2013. He, too, was appointed by Snyder.

For many years, few people paid any attention to the politics of Michigan Supreme Court justices. Nor were elections for the state’s highest court usually exciting.

That’s because there used to be a presumption that judges were more or less above politics, and that once on the bench, they should remain there as long as they were honest and competent, until the magic age of 70, after which, under the Michigan Constitution, they may finish a current term, but are no longer eligible to run again.


Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court / court.mi.gov

Private and parochial schools in Michigan will be allowed apply for grants that reimburse them for some state-ordered health and safety programs.

That’s despite a provision in the state constitution that forbids direct or indirect taxpayer support for private or religious schools.

The Michigan Supreme Court has seen a sudden rise in unanimous decisions during the 2015-2016 term.
Flickr user Joe Gratz / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The old spiritual “Kumbaya” is a song of congregation and harmony. And it’s for this reason that the Michigan Supreme Court has earned the tag “The Kumbaya Court” from court-watchers due to an increase in the number of cases decided unanimously.

Through the 2015-2016 term, 81% of arguments held before the court have been unanimous decisions. In the previous two terms, only a little more than 50% of cases were decided unanimously.

 

Why the sudden rise in unanimous decisions?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan police officers can never be criminally prosecuted for statements they are compelled to make during internal investigations — even if those statements turn out to be lies that amount to perjury or another crime.

That’s what the Michigan Supreme Court decided this week, in the case of three Detroit officers charged with obstructing justice.

MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT / COURT.MI.GOV

DETROIT – The Michigan Supreme Court has announced amendments to state rules aimed at keeping people from jail time because they can't pay court fines or fees.

The Detroit News reports changes announced Wednesday take effect Sept. 1. The court says job status, available cash, basic living expenses and other special circumstances can be considered.

Earlier this year, a Detroit-area judge accused of sending poor people to jail if they couldn't immediately pay fines agreed to end so-called pay-or-stay sentences after an American Civil Liberties Union challenge.

"If the prosecutors were picking one person and saying, this is the rare one, that would be very different. But they're picking 250 people and saying, they're all rare, without exercising the discretion," Labelle said.
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled this week that Lorinda Swain, who served more than seven years in prison for child abuse, is entitled to a new trial. And the prosecuting attorney says he’s dropping all charges.

Swain was convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing her adopted son. But her son later recanted and told the court he’d lied about the abuse.

Swain’s attorneys also presented new witness testimony they said made the prosecution’s timeline of the abuse impossible.

Shayan Sanyal / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

That’s what a case coming before the Michigan Supreme Court this week will decide.

The defendant here is Lorinda Swain, who was convicted in 2002 for sexually abusing her adopted son.

But her son later told the court he’d lied about the abuse. After more than seven years in prison, Swain was let out on bond when a judge ruled she deserved a new trial.

But the Court of Appeals overruled that decision two separate times. Now the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case.

Yet  there’s a lot more at stake here than just whether one woman will get a new trial.

Courtesy Photograph

Dearborn Heights judge Mark Plawecki announced today that he is running for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court.

The seat was vacated by former justice Mary Beth Kelly, and is currently occupied by Justice Joan Larsen who was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to replace Kelly and is also eligible to run in the upcoming November election for the seat.

"I believe my experience as a trial court judge for 21 years has given me the preparation to to make the next step up to our state's highest court," said Plawecki. 

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court / court.mi.gov

Anyone who has watched a cop show or has gotten in trouble with the law has heard the portion of the Miranda rights that if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

The question in Michigan is: What kind of lawyer will you get? And what type of defense will you get? 

In some counties, you might get a lawyer from the public defender’s office. In other counties, judges appoint the attorneys. And some lawyers get the job because they were the lowest bidder for a contract with the county.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is proposing a rule that would strengthen the ban on sending poor people to jail if they can't afford to pay fines.

Some District Court judges continue to order so-called pay-or-stay sentences, although the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in the 1980s.

The proposed rule says a judge cannot send someone to jail for failing to pay a fine unless the defendant can afford it without significant hardship. Judges could come up with a payment plan or waive all or part of the money owed.

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