Swain will get a new trial in highly-publicized innocence case

Lorinda Swain will get a new trial after the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred in failing to give proper deference to the trial court’s findings that the defendant was entitled to a new trial.  In People v. Swain, No. 150994, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the defendant had properly filed her successive motion for relief from judgment based on her claim that there was “new evidence that was not discovered before the first such motion” as provided in MCR 6.502(G)(2).  In so doing, the Court held that People v Cress, 468 Mich 678 (2003) does not apply to the procedural threshold of MCR 6.502(G)(2).  The case was remanded to the Calhoun Circuit Court for a new trial.
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MMMA restricted again: Only “patients” and “primary caregivers” are entitled to §8 affirmative defense

In the consolidated case of People v. Bylsma, No. 317904, and People v. Overholt, No. 321556, the Michigan Court of Appeals clarified that only “patients” and “primary caregivers”, as those terms are defined under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA”), can raise the §8 affirmative defense. The Court of Appeals held to be eligible for the §8 affirmative defense, an individual must either be a “patient” himself—which requires being diagnosed with a serious or debilitating medical condition—or be the sole “primary caregiver”—which requires the individual to be at least 21 years old, have agreed to assist with a patient’s medical use of marihuana, and have never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs—of no more than five qualifying patients.  Further, this affirmative defense only applies to a charge arising out of activities directly related to a defendant’s status as a patient or as the sole primary caregiver for a specific patient’s medical use of marihuana.
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COA upholds the right to file a civil action for a denial of health insurance benefits, even after an unfavorable regulatory decision

Under the Patient’s Right to Independent Review Act (PRIRA), a person who is denied insurance coverage can appeal externally to the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulations (OFIR) and file a claim in county circuit court, the Court of Appeals held in Beaumont Hospital v Wass, No. 323393.  A circuit court claim is not barred by an unfavorable OFIR decision regarding the same appeal.
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MSC holds that cities can regulate wages in municipal contractor agreements that affect or involve city property

In Associated Builders and Contractors v City of Lansing, No. 149622, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld a Lansing ordinance requiring contractors and subcontractors that perform construction on behalf of the city to pay their laborers at least the prevailing wage. Read More

Two Michigan jurists on SCOTUS short list

As reported by numerous media outlets, presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has released a list of 11 judges and justices that make up the "short list" he would consider nominating for Justice Scalia's vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat.  Two of the jurists are from Michigan.
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COA: Insurance policy requiring “direct contact” with an unidentified vehicle limits plaintiff’s claim for uninsured motorist benefits

Where an insurance policy requires “direct contact” with an unidentified vehicle, the policy limits uninsured motorist coverage to claims where the unidentified vehicle itself hits an insured person or vehicle says the Michigan Court of Appeals in McJimpson v. Auto Club Group Insurance Company, No. 320671.  Because the uninsured motorist provision in this case was written narrowly, the “substantial physical nexus” test, created by the Michigan Court of Appeals and employed in uninsured motorist cases, did not apply. Read More

COA holds that violation of parole is not interfering with administration of justice

A violation of parole does not constitute interfering with the administration of justice under Offense Variable (“OV”) 19 when the defendant is not being sentenced for the parole violation, according to People v. Sours, No. 326291. Read More

MSC passes on issue of false childhood-sexual-abuse memories

After full merits briefing and oral argument, the Michigan Supreme Court vacated its September 15, 2015 order and denied leave to appeal as improvidently granted in Roberts v. Salmi, No. 150919.  The ase involved the question of whether a mental health professional owes a duty of care to third parties who might be harmed by the use of techniques that cause a patient to have false memories of sexual abuse as a child.
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MSC holds that, under the Public Works Bond Act, actual receipt of notice is not necessary

In Wyandotte Electric Supply v Electrical Technology Systems, Inc, No 149989, the Michigan Supreme Court held that if a claimant complies with the method of service provided in the 30-day notice provision of the Public Works Bond Act (“PWBA”), actual receipt of the notice is not required under the statute.  Moreover, the Court held that a PWBA claimant may recover a time-price differential and attorney fees that were provided for by the claimant’s contract and that post-judgment interest based on the written instrument is not appropriate under the PWBA. Read More

COA concludes that a consent judgment does not have preclusive effect where factual issues were not tried in the prior proceeding and where the judgment was intended to be temporary

Collateral estoppel and res judicata does not bar future claims arising from temporary consent judgments, says the Michigan Court of Appeals in In re Guardianship of Bibi/Wallace Minors, No. 327159.  In a guardianship dispute between grandmothers, the Court of Appeals declined to apply principles of preclusion because the consent judgment was temporary, factual issues were never tried, and the circumstances concerning the matter have changed since the prior proceeding. Read More
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