Public Policy Update from the State Bar of Michigan
February 16-21, 2010
Volume 8 Issue 8

FOCUS: United States Department of Justice National Symposium on Indigent Defense
"For when equal justice is denied, we all lose."
–United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

On February 18 & 19, the United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and the Department of Justice sponsored a National Symposium on Indigent Defense. Over 500 people answered the invitation to represent every state in the nation, plus American Samoa, Federate States of Micronesia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Public defenders, prosecutors, judges, legislators, and advocates convened in Washington, D.C. to learn from each other, forge alliances, and begin the important next steps to addressing the growing crisis on how states provide public defense services.

USAG Holder kicked off the Symposium with a keynote address. Holder called attention to three areas of focus: commit to ongoing dialogue with partners at the federal, state, and local level; raise awareness about problems in the criminal justice system; and expand the role of the public defender. On this last point, USAG Holder said that "every state should have a public defender system."

In the Capitol
Committee Meetings of Interest for the Week of 2/22
2/23 House Appropriations: General Government
Agenda: Discussion on Budget Reductions with the Departments of Attorney General, Civil Rights, and State.

2/23 House Judiciary: Corrections Reform
Agenda: Discussion on the Michigan Parole Board and the transfer of Pennsylvania prisoners to the Muskegon Prison.

2/23 Senate Appropriations: Judiciary & Corrections
Agenda: Public Testimony of FY 2010-2011 Department of Corrections Budget.

2/23 Senate Judiciary
Agenda: Discussion on the Department of Corrections Supply Chain Transformation Plan.

2/23 Senate Families and Human Services
Agenda: SB 1118 Modify provision relating to termination of parental rights; SB 1119 Modify procedure for proof of termination; SB 1120 Eliminate provision relating to parent who voluntarily surrendered a child to an emergency service provider.

2/24 House Judiciary
Agenda: HB 4497 Restore good time system for all prisoners and eliminate disciplinary credits and disciplinary time; HB 4498 Eliminate provisions of prison code relating to disciplinary time and disciplinary credits, and restore good time credits; HB 4499 Eliminate reference to disciplinary time in provisions concerning sentencing multiple felonies; and any business properly; and any business properly before this committee.

2/25 Appropriations: Senate and House Subcommittees on Department of Human Services
Agenda: Update on TANF and TANF Maintenance of Effort; Update on Title IV-E Funding.

2/25 House Appropriations: Judiciary
Agenda: Testimony on Drug Treatment Courts and Mental Health Courts; Testimony from State Appellate Assigned Counsel System (SADO); Testimony from Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS).

Complete Committee Meeting List

New Public Acts

Legislation Introduced 2/16–2/18
Of Interest to the Legal Community

HB 5810 Use tax; other; application of use tax to certain services; provide for, and lower rate. Amends secs. 3 & 20 of 1937 PA 94 (MCL 205.93 & 205.110) & adds sec. 3g.
PLEASE NOTE: Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith has indicated that a substitute bill is being prepared that would exempt legal services from the proposed 5.5% sales tax rate.

HB 5826 Civil procedure; other; publication of legal notices; remove requirements from revised judicature act. Repeals secs. 1461 & 1950 of 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.1461 & 600.1950).

HB 5827 Natural resources; other; reference to definition of newspaper in the natural resources and environmental protection act; revise to reflect repeal of statutory definition. Amends sec. 2133 of 1994 PA 451 (MCL 324.2133).

HB 5828 Communications; newspapers and magazines; methods for publication of legal notices; modify. Amends sec. 1 of 1963 PA 247 (MCL 691.1051).

HB 5836 Civil procedure; civil actions; procedures for actions under sections 25 to 32 of article IX of the state constitution; revise. Amends sec. 308a of 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.308a) & adds secs. 308b, 308c, 308d, 308e, 308f & 308g.

HB 5845 Townships; charter; posting of legal notices as alternative to publishing; provide for. Amends 1947 PA 359 (MCL 42.142.34) by adding sec. 1b.

HB 5847 Townships; general law; posting of legal notices as alternative to publishing; provide for. Amends 1846 RS 16 (MCL 41.1a41.110c) by adding sec. 1c.

HB 5848 Cities; home rule; posting of legal notices as alternative to publishing; provide for. Amends 1909 PA 279 (MCL 117.1117.38) by adding sec. 4t.

Of General Interest
HJR UU Legislature; legislators; part-time legislature, reduce legislative salaries and benefits, limit number of committees legislators may serve on, limit number of bills legislators may request, eliminate term limits, and require all budgets to be presented to the governor before June 1; provide for. Amends secs. 12, 13, 16, 22 & 31, art. IV & sec. 15, art. V & repeals sec. 54, art. IV of the state constitution.

HB 5816 Michigan business tax; gross receipts; filing threshold and business income and owner income disqualifiers for small business alternative credit; increase and eliminate. Amends secs. 200, 411, 417 & 505 of 2007 PA 36 (MCL 208.1200 et seq.).

In the Hall of Justice
Rule Amendments
2009-13—Amendment of Rules 2.112 and 2.118 of the Michigan Court Rules
The amendments of MCR 2.112 set a limit on the period for raising challenges to affidavits of merit and meritorious defense and notices of intent in medical malpractice actions. The amendments also allow revision under MCR 2.118 and MCL 600.2301. The amendment of MCR 2.118 explicitly states that the amended affidavit of merit or meritorious defense relates back to the date of the affidavit's original filing.
Issued: February 16, 2010
Effective: May 1, 2010

Proposed Amendments
2009-25—Proposed Amendment of Rule 8.120 of the Michigan Court Rules
Under this proposal, a law student or recent law graduate who is a member of a legal aid clinic would be eligible to appear on behalf of a client in the Court of Appeals. The appearance would require the same protections that now exist, i.e., supervision by a licensed attorney who signs all pleadings, and approval by a majority of the judges of the assigned panel.
Issued: February 16, 2010
Comment period expires: June 1, 2010
Public hearing: To be scheduled

At the Bar
SBM's Domestic Violence Committee Sponsors Event with Guest Speaker

Sections and Committees
The Animal Law Section submitted a Public Policy position report on the following items:
Support: HB 5655 Crimes; animals; forfeiture of real property used in the commission of animal fighting; allow. Amends sec. 4702 of 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.4702).

Support: HB 5656 Crimes; animals; racketeering statute; include animal fighting as predicate offense and revise certain in rem forfeiture provisions. Amends secs. 159g, 159m & 159q of 1931 PA 328 (MCL 750.159g et seq.).

The Family Law Section submitted Public Policy positions on the following items:
Support: HJR NN Family law; marriage and divorce; constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriages; repeal. Amends the state constitution by repealing sec. 25 of art. I.

Support: HB 5587 Family law; marriage and divorce; prohibition on same-sex marriage; remove. Amends secs. 2, 3 & 9 of 1846 RS 83 (MCL 551.2 et seq.); adds sec. 8 & repeals secs. 1 & 4 of 1846 RS 84 (MCL 551.1 & 551.4).

Support: HB 5588 Family law; marriage and divorce; prohibition of same-sex marriage; remove from foreign marriage act. Amends sec. 1 of 1939 PA 168 (MCL 551.271) & repeals sec. 2 of 1939 PA 168 (MCL 551.272).

Oppose: HB 5643 Children; adoption; placement of child in homes with other blood siblings; require to consider as best interest of child. Amends 1939 PA 288 (MCL 710.21–712A.32) by adding sec. 23g to ch. X.

Support and Amend: HB 5715 Family law; child support; annual child support fee; impose. Amends title & secs. 3 & 6 of 1971 PA 174 (MCL 400.233 & 400.236).

Oppose: SB 0745 Courts; supreme court; supreme court election districts; create. Amends secs. 391 & 399 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.391 & 168.399) & adds secs. 396a & 396b.

State News
Detroit Crime Lab Closure Ripples Through Michigan Justice System
(Detroit New, 2/19/10)

Links of Interest
Public Policy Resource Center | Michigan Supreme Court | Michigan Legislature | MCL Search Engines