Vox Populi

Posts Tagged ‘Government’

It’s good to be the king

In broken tort reform, buying elections, Campaign Finance, medical malpractice, MI Supreme Court, undo tort reform on April 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm
English: A Photograph of the Michigan Supreme ...

English: A Photograph of the Michigan Supreme Court building located in downtown Lansing, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Mel Brooks had that as a running rif in his “History of the World, Part 1,” it was the excesses of the French Court he was lampooning (skeet shooting serfs was one gag).   The saying, though, applies to the Michigan Supreme Court today, with no revolution in sight.

The legal doctrine of Rooker-Feldman allows a state judiciary to be immune from federal oversight.  That is, a state court’s decision cannot be second-guessed by the federal court system…only the by the Supreme Court.

That is a fine system for upholding Jim Crow or enforcing Med Mal “tort reforms” (yes, I consider them to be of the same ilk).  Without a literal act of Congress (and good luck on that), a state judiciary can lay out a series of ruling that, because of stare decisis becomes the de facto law of the land.  If a case comes up through the appellate channel that challenges the precedent law-scape, just choose not to hear it. Because it takes 4 of 9 to hear a case, a stacked court (like the present Michigan Supreme Court) has virtual carte blanche to NOT hear any case that might upset the delicate balance that they have worked so hard over the last 20 years to erect.

With Gov. Rick Snyder‘s conservative appointment this last month, the “balance” of the court is now well in favor of keeping things exactly at the status quo

So, if you are too poor to sue, you better hope you live in a state that is NOT Michigan OR you physician you malpracticed on your ass lives in another state.  That way you can sue in Federal Court where they have determined that the Affidavit of Merit leads to injustice (as have numerous state courts–OK, LA, WA, IL, OH, NY, VT).

If you live in Michigan, and your physician was in Michigan, you either pay to play or you go home.  No other options.

If you appeal, you will be denied by stare decisis.  If you appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, you get a one page letter stating “heard and denied” for your troubles.  Appeal that to the US Supreme Court, and you waste your time (they take up about 1% of the cases filed).

Forget about Federal Courts other than the Supreme Court of the United States, federal district courts will dismiss on Rooker-Feldman.

For the sitting Michigan justices, it is good to be the king.

For the insurance and medical groups who have financed their campaigns, who have paid over the years to have their ALEC laws enacted, it is really, really good to be the king.

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Stealthy wealthy: How Harold Simmons’ political giving has benefited his business empire – Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group

In broken tort reform, buying elections, Campaign Finance, Donors, Get the Ca$h, medical malpractice, propoganda on March 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I no sooner post about a curious super PAC donor then I see how one really rich guy can wage war against what he sees as an injustice to the social order and get his way.  Even though I disagree viscerally, I don’t have a billion dollars to counter his efforts.

I will quote at length from the article,  Stealthy wealthy: How

BUDA, TX - NOVEMBER 2:  Conservative supporter...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

arold Simmons’ political giving has benefited his business empire – Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, for it sums the situation up neatly.  Bill Allison writes:

In Texas, Simmons has contributed to limit the ability of plaintiffs to sue. Among the larger recipients of his largesse is the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which in May 2011 celebrated Gov. Rick Perry’s signing of a bill it lobbied for that contains provisions–including requiring plaintiffs in tort cases that lose to pay the fees of those they sued–long sought after by business interests. Simmons gave the group $1.9 million between 2000 and 2011. Perry has gotten more than $1.3 million in support from Simmons in his gubernatorial and presidential runs. Simmons also contributed $100,000 to the Yes on 12 campaign, a ballot referendum that allowed the Texas legislature to cap damage awards for pain and suffering in lawsuits against medical providers; Texas voters approved the ballot initiative in 2003. (emphasis added)

Under the guise of being pro-business (which is code for anti-individual), such social engineering is achieved through the judicious use of large amounts of cash.

While his harm is in Texas, and, arguably, the citizenship voted it in (the citizenry often votes against its own self interest), such activity occurs in Michigan.  Lower the dollar amounts and focus attention on electing the Supreme Court judges, and the mechanism is the same.

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The Methods: get your ideas out–editorials

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h, ideology, Think tank on December 2, 2009 at 3:49 am

Once you have identified your friends (think tanks, special interests groups, etc.), let them get your agenda out in front of the voting public.  Like the guy at the right, James M. Hohman, who works for the Mackinac Center for Policy (advocates of “free markets”–whatever that may be other than very conservative, Glenn Beck-esque ideologies).  His job/bio, as stated on the center’s web site, reads as such:

James M. Hohman is a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center’s fiscal policy initiative. He holds a degree in economics from Northwood University in Midland, Mich.

Part of his duties as a “fiscal policy analyst” is to write policy papers (like this one where he argues that Michigan’s economic crisis is not tied to the automaker’s decline–he fails to note to what it is tied–but the tax system is working just fine).   Once a paper is written, it is posted to the center’s web site (like this one: Site Selection, Jennifer Granholm [Mackinac Center]).

The article, though, lives on in other forms.  For instance, that very same article appears as an editorial in the small town newspaper The Big Rapids Pioneer in their News and Opinions page.  Couched as an editorial, this position paper now commands, at least for some readers, the respect of a newspaper’s editorial blessing.

If you, with your agenda, can pull this off often enough, your message, like a drum-beat, will be heard often, with tacitly coded authority granted just by being printed in the editorial page of the local newspaper.  For many voters, those who read and think about things, this may be enough to slide them to your position.

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Is that change I smell in the air…

In MI Supreme Court on November 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm
U.S. Supreme Court building.
Image via Wikipedia

The Michigan Supreme Court has adopted, though not published, new recusal rules that will align them with Capterton Massey–sometimes it takes a big stick from the US Feds to get something done locally.

The Lansing State Journal says:

Under rules adopted by a 4-3 majority this month, a member of the court is to step aside if the jurist’s “impartiality might objectively and reasonably be questioned.”

Further, if an individual justice receives and rejects a request for recusal, a party in the case can appeal to the full court for further consideration.

In other words, the justice whose status might be compromised does not serve as the sole arbiter of his or her ability to uphold the office.

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