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The Michigan Legislature acted quickly to vote in new legislation putting temporary pandemic measures in place for Michigan’s unemployment system following the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating a number of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. On October 14, 2020, the Michigan Legislature approved more than a dozen bills related to COVID-19, including SB 886, which received unanimous support from both the house and senate. The bill provides much needed relief for both employees and employers affected by COVID-19-related employment issues by temporarily amending the Michigan Employment Security Act in the following important ways: Unemployment Arising ...
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Like most parents, I had to significantly adjust my work routine this past spring. My husband and I have been lucky enough to be able to work remotely, but doing so with our son at home definitely has its challenges. That said, now that my son and I have had some time to adapt to sharing an office space, I’m able to identify some undeniable advantages. If you’ve got a kiddo for an office mate or are in the market for one, consider the following benefits: Frequent snacks and ergonomic adjustments . If you’ve customarily found yourself in an energy rut first thing in the morning, later in the morning, right after lunch, towards the late afternoon, or even ...
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The   Michigan Supreme Court’s opinion   in   Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan  (In re Certified Questions from the United States Dist Court) ,   No 161492 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Oct 2, 2020), stripped Governor Whitmer of her authority to issue executive orders under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 (EPGA). Effective October 2, 2020, all of the governor’s orders entered after April 30, 2020, are void and unenforceable. The immediate effect of the court’s ruling was confirmed on October 12, 2020, when the court   denied a motion   filed by Governor Whitmer and the director of the Department of Health and Human Services ...
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On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion in Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan (In re Certified Questions from the United States Dist Court), No 161492 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Oct 2, 2020). The court unanimously held that Governor Whitmer did not have the authority under the Emergency Management Act of 1976 (EMA), MCL 30.401 et seq., to declare a “state of emergency” or “state of disaster” based on COVID-19 after April 30, 2020. The court determined that a gubernatorial declaration of a state of emergency under the EMA may only last for 28 days absent legislative approval of an extension. A majority of the court ...
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Holding a presidential election in the midst of a global pandemic raises a myriad of issues, one of which is a shortage of poll workers. Experienced poll workers across the country, many of whom are over the age of 60 and at higher risk from coronavirus, may opt not to work the polls this year. In the face of a shortage of poll workers, the American Bar Association (ABA) together with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) have sought to mobilize lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals to safely assist in the November election as poll workers. The Poll Worker, Esq. ...
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On Friday, October 9, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order replacing the initial one issued on October 5. Effective through October 30, 2020, the new order includes some of the same provisions as well as a number of new ones covering workplace safety, contact tracing requirements, and more. Highlights include the following: Definitions of a number of terms, including close contact , child care organizations , and symptoms of COVID-19 Gathering restrictions similar to the ones issued in the previous order New capacity restrictions in addition to the gathering ...
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In the wake of Michigan Supreme Court’s opinion in Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan (In re Certified Questions from the United States Dist Court) ,  No 161492 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Oct 2, 2020), Governor Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders promulgated under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, including orders governing visitation in residential care facilities, may become a nullity by the end of month. On October 6, 2020, the MDHHS issued an emergency order , effective immediately and until October 30, 2020, under the Public Health Code setting out protocols for visitation to address the threat to public health caused ...
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Michigan Supreme Court Orders The Michigan Supreme Court has issued 19 administrative orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which are summarized below by topic. Many of the administrative orders listed here reference executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer. However, in Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan  (In re Certified Questions from the United States Dist Court) , No 161492 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Oct 2, 2020) , the court unanimously held that Governor Whitmer did not have the authority under the Emergency Management Act of 1976 (EMA), MCL 30 .401 et seq. , to declare a “state of emergency” ...
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So, is it all over?  In a word. No. On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a series of opinions which dealt with the Governor’s authority and powers under two laws – the 1976 law and the 1945 law.  Earlier decisions under the 1976 law and the Supreme Court Friday all agreed that the 1976 Act had a 28 day limit and that the Governor could not extend that on her own. As to the 1945 law, the Court rejected the challenges to arguments about reading the two laws as one and that somehow it was limited to responding to riots, it was limited to emergencies covering less than the whole state, that public safety (addressed) was different than public health ...
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On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion in Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan  (In re Certified Questions from the United States Dist Court) ,  No 161492 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Oct 2, 2020). The court unanimously held that Governor Whitmer did not have the authority under the Emergency Management Act of 1976 (EMA), MCL 30.401 et seq., to declare a “state of emergency” or “state of disaster” based on COVID-19 after April 30, 2020. The court determined that a gubernatorial declaration of a state of emergency under the EMA may only last for 28 days absent legislative approval of an extension. A majority of the ...
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Late Friday afternoon, October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion in   Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan  (In re Certified Questions from the United States Dist Court) ,   No 161492 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Oct 2, 2020), that states that the statutes Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been relying on as the source of her authority to issue executive orders either do not authorize the Governor’s actions or are unconstitutional. Despite the dramatic nature of the decision, it has no immediate legal effect. The short version: the Governor’s executive orders remain in effect for the time being, but there is going to be ...
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EMERGENCY UPDATE: In light of In re Certified Questions from the United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division (Midwest Institute of Health, PLLC v Governor) , Michigan Supreme Court Docket No 161492 (October 2, 2020), ICLE contributors Nathan Piwowarski and Howard Collens recommend immediately stopping the use of the Governor’s emergency Executive Orders to remotely witness and remotely notarize documents. The State Bar’s Elder Law and Disability Rights Section, and its Probate and Estate Planning Section continue to promote a legislative proposal to (1) ratify acts of remote witnessing and expanded remote notarization ...
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On June 22, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its decision in People v Jemison , finding that a forensic analyst’s two-way, interactive video testimony violated the defendant’s state and federal confrontation rights. Jemison was convicted of one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The facts of the case involved a rape kit sent to a lab in Utah for DNA testing. The Michigan State Police then compared the lab’s findings with the DNA data stored in its database, identifying an association with defendant’s DNA. Over the defendant’s objection, the trial court allowed the forensic analyst to testify by video at trial. On appeal, Jemison argued ...
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  Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford joined the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 2014. Judge Stafford previously worked at a private law firm, as a career law clerk for Judge Victoria A. Roberts, and as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Read Judge Stafford’s original Q&A from 2018 here . What are the main procedural changes in your courtroom due to COVID-19? The main change is that there are no proceedings in a physical courtroom right now; everything is done via Zoom. The courthouse remains closed to the public and court employees (including judicial officers) are teleworking for all duties except ...
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On September 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) revised its regulations in response to a court decision invalidating several provisions of the DOL’s final rule implementing the emergency family leave and paid sick leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The decision, from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, struck down the DOL’s original regulation regarding (1) the requirement that employers actually have work available for employees in order to be eligible for leave, (2) the broad definition of   health care provider   under the final rule, (3) the requirement that employees obtain employer ...
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Governor Whitmer’s most recent Safe Start order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-183 , effective October 9, 2020, states that Michigan’s “rate of new daily cases has plateaued at a level well below the national average.” Described as another step in the Governor’s “incremental approach,” the order rescinds the previous Safe Start order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-176 , as well as Mich Exec Order No 2020-180 and Mich Exec Order No 2020-181 . Mich Exec Order No 2020-183 incorporates many of the prior Safe Start orders’ provisions and adds new ones relaxing social gathering and event restrictions, lifting the closures of some places of public accommodation, and outlining ...
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Remembering RBG

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) , the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died on September 18, 2020, at the age of 87. RBG served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1993 until her death. In her later years on the bench, she became “notorious” for her passionate dissents. Prior to her time as a popular dissenter, RBG was a legal pioneer of gender equality . After graduating at the top of her class at both Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School, she had difficulties securing a job because she was a woman. She eventually became a law professor at Rutgers Law School, teaching civil procedure. During her tenure, she gained ...
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Since COVID-19 hit the state, there have been strict limitations on visitation in long-term care facilities, which has been a strain on residents and their families. The current executive order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-174 , is effective through September 30, 2020, and allows only certain visitors into the facilities as detailed in an earlier blog post . A new order from the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on September 15, 2020, allows visits to facilities by family and friends who are excluded under Mich Exec Order No 2020-174, as long as the visits take place outdoors. Outdoor visits may take place if (1) the facility ...
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​ICLE's Temporary Staff Lawyer, Nick Van Erp, drafted this blog prior to his departure. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!  Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion in Foster v Foster , No 157705 , ___ Mich ___, ___ NW2d ___ (Apr 29, 2020). Although the core ruling revolved around the constitutional issue of federal preemption of state law, the implications of Foster will primarily impact divorce cases. In Foster , defendant originally agreed to pay plaintiff 50 percent of his military retirement benefits under the consent judgment of divorce. Defendant later applied for an increased disability benefit under combat-related ...
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Governor Whitmer’s most recent Safe Start Order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-176 , effective September 4, 2020, states that Michigan has reached a plateau in COVID-19 case counts that allows leaders to “carefully and deliberately relax some restrictions.” Described as part of an “incremental approach,” the order rescinds the previous Safe Start order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-160 , and its amending order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-162 . Mich Exec Order No 2020-176 incorporates many of the prior Safe Start orders’ provisions and adds new ones relating to organized sports, gyms, and pools. Highlights of this most recently amended order include the following: ...
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