News Story

Michigan Court of Appeals Judges – Not on the Same Page?

For more than a year, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation (MCLF) has been battling the forced unionization of Michigan's home-based day care owners and providers in the state Court of Appeals. Four times, the appeals court rejected the Foundation's case with the legal equivalent of a wave of the hand.

The first dismissal of Loar v DHS, last December, consisted of a single, six-word sentence.  None of those six words offered any explanation. The appeals court quickly followed suit in February with a denial to an MCLF request to reconsider its decision. 

Then, in September the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ordered the appeals court to explain its first dismissal. Again, the three-judge panel dismissed the lawsuit. Again without sufficient explanation.

And the MCLF has just learned the appeals court this week denied another motion asking the judges to reconsider or at least explain the details of their rationale.

This case involves illegal government activity, millions of dollars and more than 40,000 Michiganders. Before they respond this time, perhaps these three judges need to go across the hall and talk to one of their colleagues.

In the Fall 2010 issue of the University of Michigan LSA Magazine, Michigan alumni and Appeals Court Judge Douglas Shapiro insists that people deserve to know why the appeals court reaches certain decisions:

"In each case, for the people involved, it's their only case. So even if it seems run-of-the-mill, it's important to remember that there are real people who are waiting for the decision to come in the mail to tell them what happened, and not only to say if they won or lost, but why, so they feel they got a fair shake."

This is in stark contrast to the dismissals by Shapiro's colleagues in Loar v DHS. In fact, Shapiro seems to counter the sparsely worded dismissals with just five words of his own about these "real people" who come before the appeals court:

"They're entitled to an explanation."

MCLF clients Sherry Loar, Paulette Silverson and Michelle Berry are indeed real people in the private sector, trying to make a real living by providing real services to other real people in need. But they found themselves forced into a government employees union they neither asked for nor voted for.  

As Sherry told WJR's Frank Beckmann back in April, "To think that that court works for the children, the parents and myself, and they would have the audacity after everything we've been through to dismiss us without a comment...they're lucky I'm not picketing on their front porch."

Aren't Sherry and the others entitled to an explanation?

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.