michigan supreme court

Law
11:21 am
Sat March 29, 2014

Michigan Supreme Court to hear dispute over court costs

Judges statewide have used their discretion to order local court costs, citing Michigan law. The attorney general's office is defending the practice, saying the Legislature could have restricted the meaning of the law but didn't.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court soon will hear arguments in a dispute over whether convicts can be ordered to pay the operating costs of local courts.

Fred Cunningham is asking the Supreme Court to throw out a $1,000 bill that was part of his sentence for a drug crime in Allegan County, southwest of Grand Rapids.

Judges statewide have used their discretion to order local court costs, citing Michigan law. The attorney general's office is defending the practice, saying the Legislature could have restricted the meaning of the law but didn't.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:58 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Audio: April DeBoer talks about challenging Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage

Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.
user dbking Flickr

Tomorrow, hearings challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage begin in federal court.

Partners April DeBoer and Jayne Rouse are two nurses, living in Hazel Park. They’ve been raising three children together, but they cannot jointly adopt the children because of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple sued the state for the right to adopt jointly and eventually submitted a legal challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The hearings are expected to focus on whether Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and whether children are harmed by being raised by same-sex parents.

Listen to April DeBoer speaking with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White below:


Law
5:01 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments in grandparents' visitation case

Michigan Supreme Court (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court will consider a case tomorrow involving a grandparent’s right to have visitation with a grandchild.

In the case, the parents of a man whose parental rights to his two children were terminated sued for visitation. The man’s parental rights were terminated following allegations of physical abuse. He has since died.

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Law
9:05 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court to decide separation of powers case

Michigan Supreme Court (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a judge can ignore part of a state law that limits what a jury can consider as part of a criminal case.

The defendant in the case was charged with reckless driving that caused a fatality. His lawyer asked the judge to order the jury to consider a lesser charge. The judge agreed, even though state law specifically doesn’t allow that. The judge said the law violates the state constitution, and its separation of powers doctrine.

Law
8:18 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court passes on libraries and guns case

Capitol Area District Library, downtown Lansing branch (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal of a case involving libraries and guns.

Lansing’s library system had banned openly carried firearms in its branches. But the Court of Appeals found that violated a state law preventing local units of government from banning weapons.

Today, the state Supreme Court decided to let the lower court decision stand.

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Politics & Government
7:14 am
Thu November 14, 2013

In this morning's headlines: 1,300 signed up for Obamacare, Court of Claims, pot in pharmacies

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

Opinion
8:22 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Stacking the judicial deck

Lessenberry commentary for 11/7/13

We’ve been focused so much on elections that many of us haven’t much noticed what’s been going on in Lansing.

Well, those who remember the unseeingly way Right to Work was rammed through the legislature in last year’s lame duck session, may find we’re about to get déjà vu all over again.

Republicans have just passed a bill to radically change the way in which judges are selected when citizens sue the state. Essentially, it allows the state Supreme Court to pick four judges from the Court of Appeals to hear these cases. 

The panel that hears lawsuits against the state, by the way, is called the Court of Claims. For many years, this function has been exercised by the circuit judges in Ingham County. That’s the county where Lansing and our state government are located, which has been logistically convenient. This bill will change that.

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Law
8:37 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court funds two new courts

Credit The Daily Record / Creative Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court has picked five projects to receive money for court innovations.

One project is a human trafficking court in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  It will determine whether offenders in prostitution cases are victims of human trafficking. If so, the court will offer services, not jail time.

Another involves using social media and technology to improve court communication in various counties.

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Politics & Government
5:35 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

The "dark money" that elected Michigan's Supreme Court

"The 2012 Supreme Court campaign was the most expensive and least transparent in history."

Yikes. 

That's the unflattering takeaway from a new report from a consortium of groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

Of the $19 million dollars poured into the state's Supreme Court races, $13 million went to ads like the following.

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Law
2:57 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Do federal drug laws trump Michigan's constitution? High court will decide

John Ter Beek
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear a challenge today to a local ordinance that bans medical marijuana despite an amendment to the state constitution that allows it.

The city of Wyoming, outside Grand Rapids, enacted the ordinance three years ago. It outlaws any activity that’s already prohibited by federal law. It was directed at the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana amendment, which conflicts with federal drug laws.

The city says it acted within its authority because federal laws trump state laws.

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Politics & Government
2:14 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

State Bar asks for reversal of disclosure rule

Michigan Supreme Court building.
Michigan Supreme Court court.mi.gov

The State Bar of Michigan says it’s time to end anonymous campaign spending in elections for judges and Supreme Court justices.

The State Bar is asking Michigan’s top elections official to require committees that pay for so-called “issue ads” to reveal their donors. That would require Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to reverse a 2004 rule issued by her predecessor that says the independent committees can keep their donors secret.        

Bruce Cortade is the president of the State Bar of Michigan. He says anonymous campaign spending undermines confidence in the legal system, and it's growing more common.

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Opinion
8:35 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Good news in the Michigan Supreme Court

Lessenberry commentary for 9/12/13

There’s a little good news both from and about the Michigan Supreme Court. Yesterday, the court announced it is ordering all courts in the state to provide interpreters for people who have limited or no English-speaking skills.

This was followed by a joint press conference starring Chief Justice Robert Young, one of the state’s longest-serving and most conservative justices, and Justice Bridget McCormack, who is both the court’s most recently elected member and one of its most liberal.

Though they have often voted differently when deciding cases, the two justices clearly had a warm camaraderie yesterday, and that was notable. There have been times in recent years when some justices have launched personal public attacks against each other, which did nothing for the court’s reputation.

The order to provide certified translators is a huge step in the right direction, especially given our ongoing influx of Spanish-speaking and Middle Eastern immigrants.

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Law
8:00 am
Sat September 7, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court asked to decide fate of “medibles”

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A medical marijuana cardholder has appealed a drug possession conviction to the Michigan Supreme Court. The appeal seeks clarification on how the law views putting marijuana or its active ingredient into baked goods.

   Earl Caruthers hopes the state’s highest court will reverse the Michigan Court of Appeals in his case.  He was stopped with some THC-laced brownies in the back of his car. He also had some pot in plastic bags, and was driving on a suspended license. But he’s only challenging a conviction related to the brownies.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Fri August 9, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit Police changes, childhood obesity, and custody case

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Detroit Police Department prepares for big changes

Detroit Police Chief James Craig intends to introduce a large departmental reorganization, reports Michigan Radio’s Sara Cwiek.  Craig announced last week that he will restore a version of the department’s gang squad.  Many administrative jobs will be filled by civilians so that more officers can return to field work.

CDC says obesity down among Michigan children

According to a new Center for Disease Control study fewer Michigan children qualify as obese.  Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports that the obesity rate among low-income preschool children dropped from 13.9% in 2008 to 13.2% in 2011.  Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for obesity rates.

Michigan Supreme Court returns custody to foster family

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered that four children be returned to their foster family, reports Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta.  Custody was awarded to their grandmother last year by the Michigan Court of Appeals because state law gives automatic preference to relatives when parental rights are terminated.  The Supreme Court said that the children should be returned to the foster family until it makes a decision whether to hear the appeal.

Law
5:10 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Supreme Court dismisses wrongful death lawsuit in suicide case

The Michigan Supreme Court
photo courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled the family of a man who committed suicide cannot sue the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for failing to carry out a court order that might have saved his life.

Stephan Bradley’s family says he might not have killed himself if deputies had acted on a warrant that he should be brought in for a psychiatric evaluation. Instead, nine days after the warrant was issued, Bradley committed suicide. An internal inquiry found department procedures were not followed.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by his sister was dismissed because governments cannot be sued for not doing a job as well is it should be done. The sister went back seeking a contempt of court judgment on the same grounds seeking similar damages. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that was essentially the same lawsuit and ruled local governments are still immune from that type of litigation.

Politics & Government
10:25 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether a governor can reverse clemency decision

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Governor Jennifer Granholm exceeded her authority when she reversed her decision to commute the life sentence of a convicted murderer.

Matthew Makowski is serving a sentence of life without parole for murder and armed robbery. 

During her final days in office, Governor Granholm used her executive authority to commute his sentence to make him eligible for parole. The paperwork was filed and sent to the state Department of Corrections.

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Stateside
5:53 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court refuses to rule early on right-to-work

Michigan Supreme Court
photo courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

An interview with Chris Gautz, the Capitol Correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business.

On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court said it would not make an early ruling on the constitutionality of the state's new right-to-work law. Governor Snyder had asked the high court to decide the issue before the case made its way through lower courts.

The law was passed last December during a very controversial lame-duck legislative session. Under the law, workers cannot be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Chris Gautz, the Capitol Correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business joined us today to help break it down for us.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
1:12 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Do right-to-work laws undermine the Michigan Civil Service Commission?

Police cars in front of the state Capitol during right-to-work protests
david_shane flickr

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Michigan Supreme Court won’t give an early ruling on the state’s right-to-work law.

Gov. Rick Snyder pressed the state’s high court to weigh in on the constitutionality of the laws, which were quickly passed during a lame duck legislative session last December.

On Friday, the justices declined the governor’s request:

"We are not persuaded that granting the request would be an appropriate exercise of the court's discretion.”

In December 2012, Michigan became the 24th state with a right-to-work law in place. The controversial law -- which brought out some 10,000 protesters to the state capitol in Lansing -- throws out the requirement to financially support unions as a condition of employment.

Supporters of unions are challenging the constitutionality of the law, arguing that the state’s constitution gives the Civil Service Commission jurisdiction over the rules of employment, not the state Legislature.

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Politics & Government
10:45 am
Mon July 8, 2013

State lawmakers plan to take up bill to revive medical pot dispensaries

Neeta Lind Flickr

A state House panel is likely to take up a bill soon that would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. Republican lawmakers are starting to take interest in the issue.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down a ruling that effectively stopped most marijuana dispensaries from operating in the state. The court ruled that the dispensaries can be shut down as a public nuisance. Now state lawmakers say they’re close to a deal on legislation that would allow and regulate the facilities.

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Politics & Government
11:52 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court says it won't rule on right-to-work law early

Last December, thousands of union members protested the Right to Work law at the state capitol
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has unanimously decided not to step in early to decide the legality of the state's right-to-work law.

The court on Friday said it wasn't persuaded that ruling now would be an "appropriate exercise" of its discretion.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in January asked for an advisory opinion on the law that lets workers stop paying union dues or fees.

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