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A Better Partnership

December 2016

Dec 2016
December 13, 2016

MSC grants MOAA on whether the Court of Claims has subject matter jurisdiction over decisions by the Michigan Film Office

In the consolidated case of Teddy 23, LLC v Michigan Film Office, No. 153420, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument to address whether the Revenue Act confers subject matter jurisdiction on the Court of Claims for decisions issued by the Michigan Film Office.  After the Michigan Film Office denied Teddy 23’s request for a postproduction certificate of completion because the Department of Treasury concluded that Teddy 23 had misstated its expenditures, Teddy 23 filed an action in the Court of Claims against the Michigan Film Office and the Department of Treasury.  The Court of Claims dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Revenue Act confers subject matter jurisdiction on the Court of Claims for decisions issued by the Department of Treasury, but not the Michigan Film Office. 

Dec 2016
December 12, 2016

MSC grants MOAA on whether award of attorney fees should have been decided by trial court or jury

The Michigan Supreme Court has granted a mini-oral argument on the question of whether the trial court erred in awarding attorney fees following a postjudgment hearing rather than submitting the attorney fee issue to the jury.
Power Play International v. Reddy, No. 154347, the plaintiffs sued to enforce a 2008 settlement agreement between the parties.  That agreement provided in part that the prevailing party in an action to enforce the agreement would be entitled to recover associated attorney fees.  The plaintiffs prevailed on summary disposition regarding defendants’ liability for breach of the settlement agreement, and the jury awarded plaintiffs damages of $3,000,000.  The trial court held an evidentiary hearing regarding the reasonableness of plaintiffs’ attorney fees, and ultimately ordered defendants to pay fees of $80,765.

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.  

Dec 2016
December 09, 2016

Two MSC justices recuse themselves, leaving 5 to hear a recount petition appeal

Chief Justice Young and Justice Joan Larsen have recused themselves from participating in two cases challenging the recount of votes by the Board of State Canvassers because President-Elect Donald Trump is a party to one of the cases and they both appear on Trump's list of 21 potential nominees to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court.  See Donald J Trump v Board of State Canvassers, No 335958 and Attorney General v Board of State Canvassers No. 335947.  Justice Larson readily recused herself, whereas Chief Justice Young did so only reluctantly, stating that "anybody can make a list" and the chances of being selected from the list is remote and both “speculatively hypothetical and in his case, improbable.”  The Court highlighted the duty to sit is required because justices who recuse themselves cannot be replaced. Thus, their disqualification alters the composition of the Court that the citizens have chosen thereby disrupting the decision-making process in a particular case. Neither Chief Justice Young nor Justice Larsen sought inclusion on the list and both disclaimed any notice or contact with the President-Elect. Though Chief Justice Young highlighted that recusal is mandated only when a judge is actually biased and cannot impartially hear a case, both disclaimed any actual bias and no one claimed otherwise. The justices instead granted the motion for disqualification because of the unique circumstances of the case and to avoid any perceived conflict. Interestingly, the Chief Justice noted that this case in particular called out for judicial restraint, and strongly suggested that his classmate, United States District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith, should have exercised more restraint, rather than ordering the recount to begin earlier than state laws allowed.

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