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SBM Dedicates 33rd Michigan Legal Milestone on "Poletown and Eminent Domain"

12/11/08

Legal and historical perspectives from a stellar panel of eminent domain lawyers and others made for a fascinating retelling of the "Poletown" story at the dedication of the State Bar of Michigan's 33rd Legal Milestone Dec. 2 in Hamtramck.

SBM Legal Milestone "Poletown and Eminent Domain" Dedication Ceremony: Pictured from left to right are historian Gregory Kowalski; Hon. Paul Paruk; Norman Ankers; David Baker Lewis; Jerome Pesick; SBM President Ed Pappas; and Alan Ackerman.

At the heart of the dedication was the landmark 1981 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court (Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit) that set a new standard expanding the power of eminent domain and allowing the definition of public use to include economic development. In 2004, the Court reversed itself.

The experiences of a working-class Polish neighborhood that was demolished 28 years ago to make way for a General Motors plant and the legal repercussions that followed were recounted by historian Gregory Kowalski; the Hon. Paul Paruk, 31st District Court chief judge; and attorneys Norman Ankers, David Baker Lewis, Jerome Pesick, and Alan Ackerman.

A bronze plaque highlighting the events will be permanently installed at Zussman Park in Hamtramck this spring. The SBM Public Outreach Committee has been placing markers around the state for the past 22 years as part of the Michigan Legal Milestones program highlighting significant cases and personalities. More information about Michigan Legal Milestones.

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