MSC grants mini-oral argument to consider whether defendant can be charged with felony under Election Code for forging signatures on nominating petition

In People v. Hall, No. 150677, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument to consider whether to grant leave to appeal on the issue of whether the Election Code’s forgery and nomination petition provisions conflict and therefore the defendant may only be charged under the misdemeanor statute. The defendant was charged with forgery under MCL 168.937, after he forged signatures for a district judge candidate’s nominating petition. He was originally charged with multiple felony counts of forgery under MCL 168.937 of the Election Code.  This is a felony punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000.00, and/or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.   The trial court and the Michigan Court of Appeals held, however, that Hall should have been charged with misdemeanor forgery under MCL 168.544c(9) of the Election Code. The Supreme Court will hear mini-oral argument to determine whether to these two criminal provisions of the Election Code conflict, and Hall should therefore be charged with the misdemeanor offense, rather than the felony offense. The court also directed the parties to address whether the rule of lenity applies in this case and whether charging the defendant with felony forgery under MCL 168.937 violates his due process rights because the warning on the nominating petitions lists forgery as a misdemeanor offense.
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COA reiterates the finality of arbitration awards

In Fette v Peters Construction Co., No. 320803, the Court of Appeals held that when there is no procedural error in an arbitration hearing, and the arbitrator did not exceed his or her powers, nor prejudice the rights of a party, the courts will not vacate an arbitration award. The Court also held that a subpoena can be quashed when the witness is asked to testify to information the requesting party already knows itself. The Court also addressed awarding attorney fees and costs at both the trial and appellate level:  An unsuccessful complaint to vacate an arbitration award can still be made in good faith, particularly when there inadequate case law on the matter; and appellate costs cannot be awarded under MCL 600.2591, which only applies to the trial level, but may be awarded under MCR 7.216(C) if properly requested on a separate motion. Read More

COA finds that the No Fault Act limits work loss benefits to a specified income level, not a specified income loss.

In Agnone v. Home-Owners Insurance Co., No. 320196, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the statutory limit on work loss benefits in MCL 500.3107(1)(b) applies to an injured person’s total combined income following an accident in addition to the work loss benefit.  If the income an injured person actually earns for work performed during the relevant period after an accident exceeds the statutory maximum monthly benefit, the work loss benefit is reduced to zero. Read More

COA: Michigan’s Child Custody Act allows third-party custodians to rebut the parental presumption

In Howard v. Howard, No. 323124, the Court of Appeals held that in custody disputes initiated by natural parents, Michigan’s Child Custody Act allows third-party custodians to contest a natural parent’s claim that awarding custody to the natural parent serves a child’s best interests.  Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting custody to a third-party custodian. Read More

COA reaffirms that employees who file for disability benefits must present certified statements of disability

In Bowden v. Gannaway, No. 319047, the Court of Appeals held that, when applying for non-duty disability retirement benefits, an employee must present a certified writing that the employee is totally and permanently disabled; even if that employee filed for benefits before the decision in Polania v. State Employees’ Retirement System, 299 Mich. App. 322 (Mich. Ct. App. 2013). Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to defendant Gannaway because Gannaway’s failure to file an appeal with the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) in a timely manner was not the proximate cause of Bowden’s losing appeal for disability benefits. Read More

COA upholds court’s right to order child support for high school students, even after age 18

In Lee v. Smith, No. 320123, the Court of Appeals affirmed an order for child support payments under MCL 552.605b(2), which allows a trial court to order payments for children over the age of majority who are enrolled in high school full-time and have not yet reached the age of 19 years and 6 months.  While limiting language in Subsection (5) of the act could be interpreted as requiring parental agreement before such payments may be ordered, the court held that when reading the act as a whole, the legislature’s clearly expressed intent was to authorize courts to award payments for children between the ages of 18 – 19 ½ who were still attending high school. Read More

COA holds that a scooter is a “vehicle” under the Michigan Vehicle Code when operated on public roadways

In People v. Lyon, No. 310242, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the circuit court abused its discretion in dismissing charges against the defendant for operating a vehicle on a public highway while intoxicated under MCL 257.625(1), third offense, and possessing an open container of alcohol under MCL 257.624a.  The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case, holding that the circuit court wrongly concluded that the defendant’s scooter was not a “vehicle” under the Michigan Vehicle Code (“MVC”).
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COA: Prior acts of CSC may not be excluded merely because jury may draw propensity inference

In People v. Uribe, No. 321012, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the trial court misapplied MCL 768.27a, which allows the prosecutor to present evidence that the defendant committed other sex crimes against children in a child molestation prosecution, when it excluded evidence of the defendant’s other acts of child molestation.  In this case, the Court of Appeals held that the evidence was not probative of a “listed offense” under the statute and, further, it was more probative than prejudical under MCE 403.
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COA affirms DTE's power supply cost recovery plan

In In re Application of Detroit Edison for 2012 Cost Recovery Plan, No. 318388, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the Michigan Public Service Commission’s approval of DTE’s power supply cost recovery plan and its related Reduced Emission Fuel project. Under the Reduced Emission Fuel project, DTE planned to sell coal to affiliated companies that would add chemicals reducing sulfur dioxide, mercury, and nitrous oxide emissions, and then sell the coal back to the company. The cost of the additives was to be offset by reduced power supply cost recovery emissions allowance expense, resulting in a net cost of zero for customers.  Read More

COA: Res judicata need not bar piercing the corporate veil post-judgment

In Green v. Ziegelman, No. 318989, the Court of Appeals concluded that the doctrine of res judicata did not bar the trial court from disregarding Ziegelman Architects’ separate existence from its owner, Norman Ziegelman, and holding Ziegelman personally liable for an earlier judgment against Ziegelman Architects.  The Court also affirmed the trial court’s piercing of Ziegelman Architects’ corporate veil. Read More
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