December 23, 2016 - Lawsuit Update
Post date: Dec 24, 2016 4:25:25 AM
Our lawsuit against the State of Michigan continues to move forward. On Nov. 1, 2016 the Attorney General filed an answer to our complaint.
After carefully reviewing the AG’s response, our legal team found that the AG’s arguments mischaracterized our claims and contained factual errors and inconsistencies with the rights provided to the People of Michigan in the State Constitution. We filed a motion for leave to file a reply brief limited to the new issues raised by the State, which the court granted, and on Dec. 21, 2016 we filed the reply brief. For your information, we’ve included a summary of the AG’s answer and our reply brief. Both documents are attached below.
The AG’s answer raised a number of legal arguments, however, there were three that we felt we needed to address before the court reached the merits: that we have standing to bring a mandamus claim, that we did not fail to meet the burden imposed by the Michigan court rules relating to unfunded mandate claims, and that our claims are not barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
The State argues that we do not have standing to request a mandamus relief, which requires the state to perform a statutory duty. However the Michigan Constitution provides taxpayers with an explicit right to enforce the provisions of the Headlee amendment and we believe that this also includes its statutory implementing legislation. The State argued that because the production of certain reports relating to payments to local governments and unfunded mandates are owed to the legislature, they cannot be enforced by taxpayers. Our legal team determined this as inconsistent with the intent of the People when they passed Article 9, Section 25-34 of the State Constitution.
The State’s second argument attempts to mischaracterize our claims as falling under Article 9, Section 29 as opposed to Article 9, Section 30. This would impose additional pleading requirements that do not apply for Section 30 claims. We thought it imperative to make clear this distinction before the court decided any of the legal issues.
The State also argues that our claims should be barred under the doctrine of res judicata, which applies when a claim or issue has already been decided by a court on the merits or if a claim or issue should have been brought forth in a previous case decided on the merits. There have been a handful of Headlee cases over the years; however, there has not been a Section 30 case in over 30 years. We believe the State has failed to meet their burden of showing the applicability of res judicata to our claims with respect to these previous cases. In the reply brief, our legal team detailed the State’s failure to show applicability and pointed out that none of the previous cases mentioned in the State’s res judicata argument were brought under Section 30.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend and a happy New Year.