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September 02, 2009

MSC holds conference today to discuss recusal rules and other issues

This morning the Michigan Supreme Court will hold a public hearing at the Hall of Justice in Lansing to discuss the process for recusing a Michigan Supreme Court Justice from participating in a case; the public hearing will be followed by an administrative conference. The Court's traditional practice has been to allow the justice whose recusal is sought to decide whether to step aside or not, and the justice is not required to explain the decision in writing. The Court is considering three proposals that would change that procedure, which we explained in a prior post when the Court called for public comments on the proposals in June. This topic has been an issue of some debate recently: the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Caperton has focused attention on the issue (see here for a prior post discussing Caperton); Michigan newspapers have weighed in with editorials proposing reforms (see, for example, here); and the justices have expressed differing views in particular cases (see here for a discussion of a July 21 order in which Justice Hathaway decided not to recuse herself).

In addition to addressing the recusal proposals, the public hearing will also address a number of other issues, including proposals:

  • to allow parties in medical malpractice suits to amend affidavits of merit and meritorious defense and notices of intent to sue, with the express provision that amended affidavits relate back to the date of the original filing;
  • to require more detailed pleading in debt collection cases;
  • to require attorneys to maintain client trust accounts in financial institutions approved by the State Bar; and
  • to destroy the fingerprints of juveniles in certain circumstances.

The press release for the conference, which provides additional details, is available here.

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