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December 2014

Dec 2014
27
December 27, 2014

MSC dismisses Headlee claims by 450 school districts alleging “underfunded” reporting mandate; districts failed to show the specific amount of shortfall

Local governments must show the amount of a funding shortfall to claim an "underfunding"  violation of Michigan’s Headlee Amendment, according to the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent decision in Adair v. State, No. 147794.  The Court distinguished this case from Adair I, where the Court recognized a narrow exception to this requirement, in which a plaintiff need not establish the particular dollar amount if the state fails to make any appropriation at all. The school districts did not waive their claims by accepting the conditional appropriation.  They simply failed to produce evidence of the specific amount of shortfall.  Judge Cavanagh dissented, arguing that the school districts had made the minimal showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the state appropriation was sufficient.

Dec 2014
26
December 26, 2014

MSC grants mini-oral argument to consider whether failure to inform defendant of mandatory life without parole sentence constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel

In People v. Trowbridge, the Michigan Supreme Court has granted mini-oral argument to consider granting leave to appeal where counsel failed to inform the defendant that, upon conviction, the defendant faced mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole. Defendant appealed arguing that the counsel’s failure to inform him of the sentence constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant was convicted of three counts of criminal sexual conduct stemming from the sexual abuse of his six-year-old daughter. Because the defendant had a previous conviction for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from the sexual abuse of a four-year-old boy, he faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Neither the parties nor the trial court realized that the mandatory sentence applied until after trial, and the defendant rejected multiple plea offers.

Dec 2014
26
December 26, 2014

MSC to consider whether testimony about pastor defendant’s prior sexual relationships with adult parishioners was properly admitted as res gestae evidence in CSC trial

In People v. Jackson, No. 149798, the Michigan Supreme Court will consider whether the trial court properly admitted testimony about the defendant’s prior sexual relationship with former members of his congregation.  The testimony, which was admitted during the defendant’s trial for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, was unspecific and concerned two relationships where both parties were above the age of consent.  The victim of this offense, however, was 13 years old.  The Court of Appeals held the testimony inadmissible under 404(b), but admissible as res gestae evidence.

Dec 2014
24
December 24, 2014

MSC holds that a party must obtain injunctive relief to recover attorney fees under the Open Meetings Act

Declaratory relief is not enough under the Open Meetings Act if you want to collect attorney's fees.  In Speicher v. Columbia Township Board of Trustees, No. 148617, the plaintiff, Kenneth Speicher, pursued injunctive relief for OMA violations, obtained declaratory relief, and was granted his attorney fees by the Court of Appeals.  The Michigan Supreme Court reversed, holding that he had to obtain injunctive relief to recover attorney fees according to the statute.

Dec 2014
22
December 22, 2014

COA holds that a court may not permit a parent to change a child’s domicile exclusively based on sole legal custody where the parents have joint physical custody

The Court of Appeals concluded in Sulaica v. Rometty, No. 321275, that the lower court erred when it granted Rometty’s motion to move her child out of state because Rometty has sole legal custody of her child.  The trial court erred when it did not consider whether the move was a change in the child’s custodial environment under MCL 722.27 because the parents share joint physical custody.  The Court of Appeals remanded for the trial court to determine whether the move constituted a change in the child’s custodial environment and, if so, whether the move was in the child’s best interests.

Dec 2014
22
December 22, 2014

COA determines that a mental health professional has a duty to prevent false accusations of childhood sexual abuse by parents

In Roberts v. Salmi, No. 316068, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined that a mental health professional owes a duty to third party non-patients to ensure that its professional techniques do not lead to false sexual accusations.  According to the Court of Appeals, Michigan common law recognizes a duty of care to third parties who might foreseeably be harmed by the use of techniques that lead a patient to have false memories of sexual abuse.

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