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michigan supreme court

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."

flickr user Joe Gratz / 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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to look at the case of a man who's on the sex offender list for life, although his conviction was erased nearly 20 years ago.

  The man was 19 when he was charged with kissing and groping a 12-year-old girl in Wayne County. He pleaded guilty, but his conviction was completely erased in 1997 after he completed three years of probation. A law grants certain breaks to young offenders who stay out of trouble.

  Nonetheless, he's on the sex offender registry.

Supreme Court won't take appeal from fired state lawyer

Dec 19, 2015
screen grab from CNN report

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court won't get involved in the case of a state lawyer who was fired after hounding a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

 

In a brief order, the court says it won't hear an appeal from Andrew Shirvell over unemployment benefits and other issues.

Shirvell was an assistant attorney general when he was fired in 2010. He had criticized Christopher Armstrong on an anti-gay blog, in Facebook posts and during visits to the University of Michigan.

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Candidates and special interests spent almost $10 million trying to sway voters ahead of the 2014 Michigan Supreme Court elections.

That makes Michigan’s court races the most expensive in the U.S., according to a new report from a group called Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

So where did all that money come from?  

Joan Larsen will replace Mary Beth Kelly on the Michigan Supreme Court.
University of Michigan Law School / screen grab from YouTube video

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Joan Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court today.

Larsen will replace outgoing state Supreme Court justice Mary Beth Kelly who will leave the court tomorrow (Oct. 1) to return to private practice.

Larsen is a faculty member at the University of Michigan Law School and special counsel to the dean for student and graduate activities.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

HOUGHTON, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to take an unusual case involving an Upper Peninsula counselor and a teen's false memories of sexual abuse.

The teen's parents are accusing Kathryn Salmi of malpractice in Houghton County. They say their daughter falsely accused the father of sexual abuse because of Salmi's counseling techniques.

  Authorities investigated but no charges were filed. The state appeals court, in a 2-1 decision last year, said Salmi could be sued by the parents.

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered that 36th District Judge Brenda Sanders be removed from office due to mental illness.

The ruling was in agreement with a March recommendation from the Judicial Tenure Commission.

The commission said Sander's mental disability was preventing her from doing her job.

Dept of Corrections

The Michigan Supreme Court says a man convicted of killing a three-year-old girl deserves a new trial.

A Calhoun County jury convicted Leo Ackley of felony murder and child abuse in the death of his girlfriend’s daughter. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

User southernfried / MorgueFile.com

Graduates of Michigan's drug, sobriety, and mental health courts are substantially less likely to commit another crime, according to a report recently released by the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Court spokesman John Nevin says problem-solving courts divert select non-violent offenders into intensive treatment and supervision for underlying problems like addiction and mental illness.

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A large majority of Michigan's trial courts users are satisfied with their experience, according to a statewide survey released this week by the Michigan Supreme Court.  

The survey found that over 80 percent of court users felt their case was handled fairly and in a timely manner. More than nine out of ten felt they were treated with courtesy and respect by court staff.

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