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One Court of Justice Blog

Jul 2017
27
July 27, 2017

MSC invalidates post hoc causation reasoning

Through an order in Lowery v. Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership, No 151600, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the determination of the Court of Appeals and ordered summary disposition be entered in favor of the defendant, who was alleged to be liable for plaintiff's bodily injury caused by an oil spill.  The Court concluded that the plaintiff's expert's causation opinion was, essentially, that the plaintiff did not have problems before the spill, and that his health issues developed after the spill.  The Court found that this was fallacious post hoc reasoning and did not support a dispute of material fact on the required element of causation. Justice Markman, joined by Justices Zahra and Wilder, wrote an extensive concurring opinion detailing his view of the expert causation testimony necessary to sustain a toxic tort claim.   

Jul 2017
27
July 27, 2017

COA: Cash value of life insurance policy is exempt from garnishment

In DC Mex Holdings LLC v. Affordable Land LLC, No. 332439, the plaintiff had secured a judgment against an individual defendant and had issued a writ of garnishment seeking to collect against the cash value of that individual's life insurance policy.  In analyzing the relevant statute governing whether these proceeds were exempt, the Court of Appeals noted that the statutory language and intent were designed to protect life insurance policies, including their cash value, for the beneficiary spouse and children.  Thus, the Court of Appeals concluded that the cash value of the policy was exempt from garnishment.

Jul 2017
27
July 27, 2017

MSC imposes nine month suspension on District Court Judge for interfering with a criminal investigation and misrepresentations

In In re Simpson, No. 150404, the Michigan Supreme Court reviewed the determination and recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission ("JTC") that District Court Judge Cedric Simpson be removed from office for interfering with the police investigation and subsequent prosecution of his judicial intern for operating a vehicle while inoxticated, and for making misrepresentations in the course of the JTC investigation with respect to contact with the intern on the morning of the accident and with respect to the purpose of extensive communications with the intern.  In its de novo review, the majority of the Court held that the interference claims, and the misrepresentation claim regarding the purpose of the communications were supported by a preponderance of the evidence.  The majority then analyzed the sanction for those violations in light of precedent and concluded that a nine month suspension was proportional to the violations that had been established.  In a partial dissent, Justices Markman and Zahra contend that, in setting the sanction, the Court should have also considered other misconduct (misrepresentations under oath) that were established by the record by not asserted by JTC. 

Jul 2017
26
July 26, 2017

MSC grants MOAA to consider whether defendant’s failure to prove plain error precludes finding of ineffective assistance of trial counsel

The Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument in People v. Randolph, No. 153309 to address two related issues. First, whether a defendant’s failure to prove plain error automatically precludes a finding of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Second, whether the plain error’s prejudice standard (“affecting substantial rights”) announced in People v. Carines is the same as the ineffective assistance’s prejudice standard (“reasonable probability” of a different outcome) in Strickland v. Washington.
 

Jul 2017
21
July 21, 2017

COA: Criminal defendant cannot withdraw plea even if court erroneously informed defendant that maximum possible sentence longer than correct maximum sentence

In People v. Winters, No. 333009, the Court of Appeals held that telling a Defendant that the maximum possible sentence for attempted arson was longer than the correct maximum sentence did not prejudice the Defendant such that he would be allowed to withdraw his plea.
 

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