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October 19, 2009

MSC Order List: October 16, 2009

On Friday, October 16, 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal in Lighthouse Place Development, LLC v. Moorings Association to address whether recording a title on advice of counsel is a defense to slander of title. The case arises from very contentious efforts by the plaintiff to use his property to re-site the Village of New Buffalo's Amtrak station into the village. The defendant called into question the defendant's title to the property by recording an amendment to an earlier agreement to terminate certain parking easements near the New Buffalo harbor. The Court of Appeals declined to declare that advice of counsel is a complete defense to slander of title as a matter of law and concluded that the defendant had failed to identify a sufficient basis in the record to show that it had actually argued advice of counsel as a defense. The Court of Appeals decision is here. Judge Wilder dissented and would have reversed the trial court on the slander of title claim based on the advice of counsel defense.

The Court also ordered the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney to respond to an application for leave to appeal in People v. Mitz. In Mitz, the defendant claims that he pled no contest to a charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (third offense) only after the trial judge told defendant's counsel off the record that defendant would receive a prison sentence if he took his case to trial. The sentencing guidelines provide for a term of jail or probation. Accordingly, the defendant claims that the judge improperly stated or implied that he would receive a harsher sentence if he went to trial. In a concurrence, Justice Corrigan specifically noted that the Court is considering an amendment to MCR 6.302(C)(1) that would require all discussions regarding a defendant's plea to take place on the record. The Court of Appeals denied a late application for leave to appeal leaving open the possibility that the Court will remand this case to the Court of Appeals as on leave granted.

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