Vox Populi

Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Supreme Court’

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Michigan Courts dead last in Judicial Independence

In broken tort reform, buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h, MI Supreme Court on October 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I came a little late to this report

(WHICH STATES HAVE THE BEST (AND WORST) HIGH COURTS?)

Unfairness for All

(published in 2008), but the information and methodology presented (see below) probably has not changed in the ensuing years.

Taking to task the ranking put out each year by the Chamber of Commerce (the largest provider of republican court campaign money in Michigan), this study does NOT ask senior lawyers at large companies (Fortune 500) which states they like and don’t like (which are pro-business leaning and which are not).  The CofC:

… surveys ask senior lawyers at corporations that earn more than $100 million per year in revenues to grade state court systems, from A to F, and aggregate their responses.

No, this survey tabulated independence on how often a judge, affiliated with a stated party, went along with or dissented from that stated party.  That is, how much did they go along with their party (please note that a judge is SUPPOSED to vote as an independent arbiter of the law, NOT to be a representative of a political party).

According to the numbers, Michigan Justices vote in lock-step (I assume that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans on this).

Overall, it doesn’t make Michigan look good in a national survey…

At least the Parties are getting their monies worth.

Follow the courts at the Justice at Stake website

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, MI Supreme Court, Partner Web Sites-- on August 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Justice at Stake

I stumbled upon the Justice at Stake website, and I have found it to be a trove of helpful resources:  from national courts to my own home state of Michigan.

Now I can track some of the PAC money that is being used to buy influence.

Yay.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Players: a Scribe to produce content: Mr. Patrick J. Wright

In broken tort reform, buying elections, ideology, MI Supreme Court, propoganda, Think tank on December 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm

We have already identified that a good, and inexpensive way to lobby the highest state court is to align, enlist or adopt an advocacy group (PAC, special interest…all really just IRS labels). We have also seen how one, lone writer can wrap up ideology in the form of editorials.

It is one such scribe which will be today’s focus: Mr. Patrick J. Wright.  He is:

is senior legal analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he directs the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. He joined the Center in June 2005 after serving for three years as a Michigan Supreme Court commissioner, a post in which he made recommendations to the court concerning which state appeals court cases it should hear.

We have heard about the Mackinac Center as an arm for “free market” legislation.  That is fine.  It is a free country.

I would note that when filling ones staff with experts, it is a good idea to find ones whose legal experience mirrors ones ideological profile.  That is, hire the ones who have said what you wish to say.  Assure pedigree.  Mr. Wright is the right person for this Right job.  In fact, if one is looking to influence the highest state court, find a person who worked for them, at a lower-level job (reading through the cases and making recommendations on which ones to take up) during the time that you wish to match ruling-wise (the 2003 court was very  conservative, pro-business and all about upholding “tort reform”).

Once on staff, free him up to write to his heart’s content.  You might even get him to land editorials for national news outlets.  His opinion, because it is just that, need not be grounded in fact.  In fact, facts may even begin to muck up a good argument, so be wary in employing them.

Once you have the right man for the job, produce the content, influence the vote, and let the right party win.

The Players: Think Tanks: Mackinac Center for Public Policy

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h, ideology, Think tank on December 1, 2009 at 10:26 pm

If you are wishing to position yourself for the 2010 elections–and you know you are–you first need to identify (or establish) a “think tank.”  Ignore the thinking part of the name, as your tank will produce news articles, editorials, opinions, studies, etc. that, systematically, advance your agenda.  You also need to establish these tanks as “non-partisan,” which is a nifty way to denounce anyone claiming partisanship–it is not affiliated with any party…[wink, wink].

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (named after the island–an internal state reference–that will only confuse a poor speller) presents itself as “the Mackinac Center provide incisive, accurate and timely analysis of critical policy issues.

Of course, “non-partisan” doesn’t mean that your donor list isn’t comprised of one party/ideology over another…birds of a feather and all that.

Once you have a think tank(s), or a few dozen, then the business of ideological spamming may commence.

————————————–

What have others said about the Mackinac Canter for Public Policy?

  • The Mackinac Center is the largest conservative state-level policy think-tank in the nation. The Michigan-based organization promotes market-driven policies on a wide range of issues and espouses limited government principles. The Center’s success in influencing Michigan policies has served as a model for other state-level think tanks.  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mackinac-center-public-policy
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Who will be the first to recuse herself from the MI Supreme Court?

In Campaign Finance, Court recusal, Get the Ca$h, MI Supreme Court, Uncategorized, undo tort reform on November 30, 2009 at 7:51 pm

In response to our recent article on the newly-enabled ability to ask (and actually have the teeth to receive) a judge’s recusal, prompted the following explanation.  It was too good to leave unread in the comments (Video can be found here):

The first case to be decided under the new recusal rule may be People v Alexander Aceval, where the recusal of former Wayne County Circuit Judge/now Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is sought by the defense in a Motion filed 10-16-09.

Aceval’s attorneyDavid L. Moffitt alleges that a vertically integrated perjury conspiracyby Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Drug Unit Chief Assistant Prosecutor Karen Plants, and two Inkster Police Officers, wrongfuly convicted Aceval with perjured testimony in 2006. APA Plants and Judge Waterstone made secret, ex-parte transcripts of their operation of the conspiracy, that unexpectedly subsequently came to light.

Moffitt has also requested the appointment of a temporary alternate Justice to break the tie, remand to a Court of Appeals Special Panel, and disclosure of the circumstances of Justice Corrigan’s recusal, which Moffitt alleged may have been deliberately sought by the perjury-conspirators to “heighten the hurdle,” i.e. needing 4 out of 6 instead of 4 out of 7 Justices, to grant the Application for Leave. Details of the case, media coverage, and briefs and transcripts, are available at davidlmoffitt.com.

Aceval’s Application For Leave To Appeal the conviction to the Michigan Supreme Court was denied 9-25-09 in a 3-3 deadlock, across “party lines,” with Justice Corrigan recusing herself to testify as a character witness in a potential future trial of pending criminal charges against Waterstone, Plants and the officers brought by the Michigan Attorney General arising out of Aceval’s case.

Upon rehearing, Moffitt has moved to disqualify Justice Hathaway, alleging that her ojectivity could reasonably be questioned where scrutiny of wrong-doing in Aceval’s case has moved to the highest levels of Wayne County Prosecutor Kyn Worthy’s office, where Hathaway’s ex-husband Richard is Chief Assistant, and where she must directly rule upon the propriety of conduct of former Third Circuit, Criminal Division co-colleagues that took place when she served with them on that bench.

Briefs, transcripts, and media coverage of the case are archived at davidlmoffitt.com.

Jesse M. Reiter: The Purchasing of Our State Supreme Courts: How Goliath is Beating David in Courtrooms Across America | BuzzFlash.org

In broken tort reform, Donors, Get the Ca$h on November 19, 2009 at 7:16 pm
David and Goliath, by Caravaggio, c. 1599.
Image via Wikipedia

Jesse M. Reiter: The Purchasing of Our State Supreme Courts: How Goliath is Beating David in Courtrooms Across America | BuzzFlash.org.

This incisive article begins by stating:

Over the last several election cycles, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its powerful corporate backers have been silently purchasing state Supreme Court seats across the country. As a result, many state supreme courts, which were once fair and neutral, now favor big business interests. This in turn has left average citizens without a voice in our court system and is making our system less democratic.

The Chamber’s state Supreme Court strategy is simple: “buying a new court… [is] far cheaper than changing the direction of fifty legislatures.” Since the Chamber understands that Americans would never willingly allow their rights to be openly eliminated, it is quietly pouring huge sums of money into formerly sedate and inexpensive judicial elections, effectively buying the state court systems where citizens’ rights are enforced.

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Healthcare Reform or Tort Reform?

In Campaign Finance, medical malpractice, MI Supreme Court, Uncategorized, undo tort reform on November 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Healthcare Reform or Tort Reform?“, posted with vodpod

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]