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One Court of Justice Blog

Jan 2018
January 20, 2018

MSC questions whether Grand Rapids implemented a policy of photographing and fingerprinting innocent pedestrians to fail to show ID during investigatory stop

It is unclear whether photographing and fingerprinting during an investigation of suspicious activity is an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, as the Court of Appeals noted in Johnson v. Vanderkooi, No. 330536.  And that is why the lower court concluded that Grand Rapids police officers were immune from liability for doing so.  You can find our blog post on that case here.  But the Michigan Supreme Court has nevertheless scheduled oral argument on the question of whether Grand Rapids police officers have implemented such a policy or custom instituted by the defendant City of Grand Rapids.  Johnson v. Vanderkooi, No. 156057.  This most certainly means the MSC is also doubing the Court of Appeals' conclusion that such activity would probably not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Dec 2016
December 12, 2016

COA holds identities of anonymous bloggers protected by First Amendment

In Fazlul Sarkar v John Doe, Nos. 326667 and 326691, the Court of Appeals held that the identities of anonymous bloggers who comment on other's research online are protected by the First Amendment.  

Aug 2016
August 04, 2016

COA: Michigan's civil forfeiture scheme is unconstitutional as applied to a claimant could not afford to post bond to challenge forfeiture

In In re Forfeiture of 2000 GMC Denali and Contents, No. 328547, the Court of Appeals held a claimant’s due process rights were violated where she was unable to contest the government’s seizing and resulting forfeiture of her property because she could not afford to post the bond required by civil forfeiture statute.  While the Court held that the statute was not unconstitutional on its face, as applied to the claimant, the civil forfeiture scheme operated to deprive her of a significant property interest without first affording her the opportunity for a hearing.

Sep 2015
September 21, 2015

COA holds that church advisory body is congregational in nature and therefore judiciary could not resolve wrongful termination dispute

In Hillenbrand v. Christ Lutheran Church of Birch Run, No. 319127, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that defendant church’s advisory body was congregational and not hierarchical in nature and that state jurisdiction over the matter would violate First and Fourteenth Amendment principles. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court’s order granting defendant church’s motion for summary disposition.

Aug 2015
August 31, 2015

COA: Prisoners' equal protection rights are not violated when they are foreclosed from seeking monetary relief for their injuries under the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act

In the consolidated opinion of Doe v. Dep’t. of Corrections, Nos. 321013; 321756, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that it is not a violation of equal protection when prisoners are foreclosed from suing for damages under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA).  The plaintiffs are seven, unidentified males who became imprisoned in the Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities. The plaintiffs brought suit under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), MCL 37.2101 et seq., claiming that they had been subject to sexual violence and harassment by adult male prisoners and female prison guards.  The defendants moved for summary disposition contending that plaintiffs failed to comply with MCL 600.5507(2), a provision of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), requiring that a prisoner filing a lawsuit concerning prison conditions disclose the number of civil actions and appeals the prisoner previously initiated.  Furthermore, the defendants argued that the ELCRA, as amended, provides that a “public service” does not include a state or county correctional facility with respect to prisoners, and that this amendment to the ELCRA did not violate equal protections.  The trial court denied defendants’ motion for summary disposition, ruling that the ELCRA, as amended, was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clauses of the Michigan and United States Constitutions.

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