December 6, 2010 — Whipsaw at the Court

One of the things that we look for when we bring a matter to court is to have it settled…definitively settled.  The rule of law works when it’s orderly and stable.

Imagine this, then: The Michigan Supreme Court makes a decision–unanimously–in April. The court then decides in July that it was wrong in April.  And, in November it goes back again to set aside the July decision.  And, it’s possible that the matter will change yet again when Justice Mary Beth Kelly takes her seat Jan. 1.

What’s this all about?  It’s the Duncan case and it’s about court appointed attorneys.  The historic grievance has been that public defenders are recompensed for their time at about the hourly rates for fast-food employees.  The result, the plaintiff’s assert is “that Michigan’s provision of criminal defense services to poor people accused of crimes was constitutionally insufficient, and sought declaratory and injunctive relief. ”  That quote is from the Brennan Center For Justice of the New York University School of Law.  The Brennan Center joined in the filing of an amicus brief on this.

The Order of the Court is well worth reading for a study in intransigence.  The law, per se, is taking a back seat to the vacillating interpretations, ideologies, whims, or…of the court…oh, except that IS the law.

You can read more about this issue here in a posting at the Warner, Norcross and Judd website.

This does not bode well for the Colaianni case, a decision due any time now from the Court; oral arguments were heard October 7.  That Colaianni case was likely to overturn the Trentadue decision, that 2007 ruling that left plaintiffs three years to bring suit, even if they didn’t know who to sue.  If Colaianni is affirmed how long will it stay that way?

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