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A Better Partnership

April 2015

Apr 2015
April 25, 2015

MSC to decide whether contractors that prevail on contract claims are entitled to attorney fees under the Construction Lien Act where their lien foreclosure claims remain unresolved

In Ronnisch Construction Group Inc. v. Lofts on the Nine, L.L.C., No. 150029, the Michigan Supreme Court granted the application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeals’ July 24, 2014 judgment.  The Court of Appeals held that a lien claimant under the Construction Lien Act may be entitled to recover attorney fees even when the lien claim is not fully adjudicated.  Further, a lien claimant may be entitled to attorney fees even though its related breach of contract claim is settled and the lienee reasonably disputes the amounts owed.

Apr 2015
April 25, 2015

COA considers whether certain claims in a church dispute are barred by the religious protections of the First and Fourteenth Amendments

The Michigan Court in the consolidated cases of Pilgrims Rest Baptists Church v. Pearson, SR., No 318797 and Pilgrims Rest Baptists Church v. Mayfield, No. 319571 held that in cases dealing with a religious entity, (i) claims for conversion are justiciable  (ii) employment claims against a church are non-justiciable, and (iii) claims involving membership and property rights of members of a church board of directors may be justiciable if the issues do not involve the interpretation of religious doctrines and religious polity.

Apr 2015
April 23, 2015

COA holds that trial court lacks authority to dismiss criminal charges unless defendant remains incompetent to stand trial for full statutory 15-month period

In People v. Demond Earl Davis, No. 319436, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that under 330.2030(2), both the prosecution and defense have a right to present evidence regarding the defendant’s competency before the trial court makes a redetermination regarding the defendant’s competency to stand trial.  Further, pursuant to MCL 330.2034(1), a trial court lacks authority to dismiss criminal charges until and unless a defendant remains incompetent, despite treatment, for the full statutory 15-month period.  Here, because the prosecutor was denied the opportunity to present evidence about the defendant’s competency, and because the trial court failed to wait the requisite 15-month period before dismissing the charges, the trial court’s decision to dismiss charges was reversed, the charges were reinstated, and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Apr 2015
April 22, 2015

COA holds that trial court erred by charging defendant probation enhancement fee

In People v. Juntikka, No. 318300, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that MCL 771.3(2)(d) does not authorize trial courts to impose a probation enhancement fee. The defendant was sentenced to five years of probation for failing to register as a sex offender under MCL 28.729, and the trial court imposed a $100 probation enhancement fee. On defendant’s objection, the trial court noted that the fee went to pay for equipment for probation agents such as gloves and cell phones. MCL 771.3 provides that the court may impose costs as a condition of probation, but those costs “must be limited to expenses specifically incurred in prosecuting the defendant or providing legal assistance to the defendant and supervision of the probationer.”

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