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A Better Partnership

June 2016

Jun 2016
June 19, 2016

COA holds that attorneys are members of a “public body” under the Whisteblower’s Protection Act

In Tammy McNeil-Marks v. Mid-Michigan Medical Center-Gratiot, No. 326606, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that attorneys are considered members of “public bodies” under the Michigan Whistleblower’s Protection Act (“WPA”).  Under the WPA “public body” is defined as among other things a body “created by state or local authority or which is primarily funded through state or local authority, or any member or employee of that body.”  Because a licensed Michigan attorney in good standing is a member of the Michigan Bar Association, which, in turn, is created by state authority, a report to him or her is a report to a public body for purposes of the WPA.

Jun 2016
June 17, 2016

Trial counsel ineffective for failure to object to inadmissible hearsay testimony and failure to present evidence of other possible sources of victim’s injuries

In People v. Shaw, No. 313786, the Court of Appeals held that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to inadmissible hearsay which tended to bolster the victim’s credibility, and failing to present evidence of an alternative source of the victim’s injuries, where there was no reasonable strategic reason for either decision. The court reasoned that the failure to object to hearsay in this case was especially significant because it bolstered the victim’s credibility in a case with a lack of conclusive physical evidence. Further, trial counsel’s failure to investigate and offer testimony of an alternative source of the victim’s injuries may have led the jury to conclude that there was no other cause, other than defendant’s abuse, that could have led to the victim’s injuries. The Court of Appeals also decided that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting, over objection, improper impeachment testimony.  The Court of Appeals concluded that but for counsel’s deficient performance, a different result would have been reasonably probable. Accordingly, the jury’s conviction was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

Jun 2016
June 16, 2016

COA: Tender does not constitute payment of redemption funds sufficient to void a sheriff's deed

Actual payment of redemption payoff is required to void a sheriff’s deed; furthermore district court determinations of possession may control quiet title actions, according to the Court of Appeals in Ronald E. Johnston Sr. v. Sterling Mortgage and Investment Company No. 324855MCL 600.3240 provides that a sheriff deed is void if property is redeemed by paying the required payoff amount, within the applicable time limit, to the purchaser of the property, or to the register of deeds. Appellants attempted to redeem foreclosed property yet never transferred any funds to the purchasers or register of deeds. Appellants argue that they were obstructed by appellees failure to provide necessary computation of the redemption amount, yet the Court determined that the register of deeds was still a viable option to complete the redemption of the property. Furthermore, appellants failed to contact the party listed on the Affidavit of Purchase in regards to the payoff amount.

Jun 2016
June 16, 2016

COA: A previous owner of property cannot file an affidavit that the property was qualified agricultural property for tax purposes

The Court of Appeals held in Lyle Schmidt Farms LLC v. Township of Mendon, Nos. 326609, 326611 that only a current owner of the property can file an affidavit pursuant to MCL 211.7dd(d) to ensure that the property remains capped for agricultural property tax purposes.

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