Public Policy Update from the State Bar of Michigan
July 18–24, 2011
Volume 9 Issue 30

In the Capitol
The Michigan Legislature has adjourned formal session for most of July and August.
Senate Session Schedule
House Session Schedule

Committee Meetings of Interest for the Week of 7/25
7/26 Senate State Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee

Complete Committee Meeting List

New Public Acts

At the Bar
Michigan Supreme Court Rescinds 30-Day Advertising Rule

FOCUS: The Board of Commissioners met on July 22, 2011, at which time the State Bar of Michigan adopted the following Public Policy positions:

2010-07—Proposed Amendment of Rule 1.5 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct
The proposed amendment of MRPC 1.5 generally would limit a referral fee to 25 percent of the amount recovered in a case subject to a contingent fee agreement. The maximum fee could be increased if the referring attorney provides substantial input that merits such increased percentage.
SBM Position: Oppose.

2010-11—Proposed Amendment of Rule 2.511 of the Michigan Court Rules
Because MCL 600.1337 requires a court to discharge an unqualified juror regardless whether a party challenges the juror for cause, the proposed amendment of MCR 2.511 would eliminate the provision from the list of challenges that may be made for cause, and instead would clarify that the discharge must be made when the court learns that the juror is not qualified to serve. This clarification would foreclose the possibility that an unqualified juror could be allowed to sit because no one challenged his or her qualification.
SBM Position: Support with recommendations from the Civil Procedure and Courts Committee position.

HB 4327 Civil procedure; evidence; testimony of a vulnerable adult; allow to be presented by videotape or closed-circuit television under certain circumstances.
SB 454 Civil procedure; evidence; testimony of a vulnerable adult; allow to be presented by videotape or closed-circuit television. Amends sec. 2163a of 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.2163a).
SBM Position: Support the bills provided that two-way interactive technology is used instead of video recording. The State Bar believes this subject matter is more properly handled within the jurisdiction of the Michigan Supreme Court.

HB 4392 Crimes; other; court to defer prosecution of person less than 18 years convicted of cyberbullying; allow under certain circumstances. Amends 1927 PA 175 (MCL 760.1–777.69) by adding sec. 4b to ch. IX.
SBM Position: Support an amendment to subsection 4 (as introduced) to provide for judicial discretion.

HB 4472 Corrections; parole; appointment of legal counsel for prisoner based upon appeal of parole by victim or prosecutor; prohibit under certain circumstances. Amends sec. 34 of 1953 PA 232 (MCL 791.234).
SBM Position: Oppose.

HB 4647 Civil procedure; evidence; expert witness testimony; allow to be presented by video communication equipment. Amends 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.101–600.9947) by adding sec. 2164a.
SBM Position: Support the concept but request the changes be made in court rule.

HB 4672 Family law; marriage and divorce; division of property in divorce; enact statutory standards. Amends secs. 18 & 19 of 1846 RS 84 (MCL 552.18 & 552.19).
HB 4673 Family law; marriage and divorce; division of property on divorce; enact statutory standards. Amends sec. 1 of 1949 PA 42 (MCL 552.401).
SBM Position: Oppose the bills as introduced, and support the current and ongoing efforts to produce revised drafts of the bills that meet the following goals:

  1. Incorporation of current statutory law;
  2. Clarification of equitable factors relevant to judicial review;
  3. Codification of existing case law pertaining to commonly recurring fact patterns;
  4. Consideration of existing and pending uniform state laws;
  5. Maintenance of judicial discretion;
  6. Improving the predictability of outcomes in cases without individual agreements;
  7. Identification of the circumstances, if any, under which a private agreement that conflicts with the statutes would be trumped by the statutes.

HB 4725 Crime victims; rights; information concerning minors who have been victims of child abuse or sex crimes; exempt from disclosure under the crime victims right act. Amends sec. 80 of 1985 PA 87 (MCL 780.830) & adds secs. 19b & 48b.
SBM Position: Support.

In the Hall of Justice
Rule Amendments
2002-24—Rescission of Amendment of Rule 7.3 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct and Proposed Amendment of Rule 7.3 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct
Issued: July 19, 2011
Effective: July 19, 2011

State News
Sobriety in the Court: Judge Has Success With Recovery Plan
(Detroit Free Press, 7/25/11)
See also:
Oakland County Judge Among Toughest in Nation on 1st-Time Drunken Driving Offenders
(Detroit Free Press, 7/25/11)

Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action May Get 2nd Look
(Detroit Free Press, 7/24/11)

New Law Requires DNA of Inmates Earlier
(Detroit Free Press, 7/22/11)

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