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Tim Smith
Tim Smith
Attorney • 231-946-0700

Justice Cliff Taylor Abolishes 30 years of Established Law….. Again

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As an attorney, I’m sought out by individuals to give them advice and counsel on issues they are facing in their lives. Typically, I sit and have a cup of coffee with the new clients and listen to the facts surrounding the legal issues that are causing them concern. After sorting through the facts, my job is to explain to them how I believe their particular fact situation would be handled in a court when the judge or jury applies the “law” to their “facts”. Essentially, I help them make an educated decision about how Michigan Law might handle their facts.

 

This is where the concept of “Attorney and Counselor” came from. We “counsel” people on what their legal options might be considering the facts that they are presented with.

 

This assumes that the “law” is consistently applied by the judges here in Michigan. This assumes that the “law” is uniformly applied and followed by the judges of this State. This assumes that judges won’t re-interpret or re-write the “law” to fit there own personal agenda. This assumes that judges won’t twist the “law” to benefit themselves or their campaign donors……

 

Once the twisting and re-writing starts, it becomes impossible for any individual to know what rights they have, if any, because there is no consistent application of the “law”.

 

This sets the stage for McDonald v. Farm Bureau Insurance Co. This is the second case this week from Chief Justice Cliff Taylor where longstanding Michigan law has been re-written. The second time this week it’s been re-written in favor of insurance companies and large corporations. The second time this week that an individual was denied their day in court.

 

Justice Marilyn Kelly wrote a dissenting opinion to Justice Taylor’s majority opinion where she explained that Justice Taylor had effectively abolished a rule of law involving what is known as “Judicial Tolling” that had been in effect in Michigan and other states for over 30 years. This rule of law, which had been in effect for over 30 years, was destroyed with one swipe of Justice Taylor’s pen.

 

Justice Kelly wasn’t the only judge shocked by Justice Taylor’s actions. There were 2 other Supreme Court Justices, 3 Court of Appeals Judges and the original trial court Judge that all disagreed with what Justice Taylor did in re-writing 30 years of established law here in Michigan.

 

Perhaps Justice Weaver said it best in her dissent to the opinion of Justice Taylor in the McDonald case,

 

In this case, the latest example of the majority of four’s judicial activism in no-fault insurance cases, the majority of four abolishes judicial tolling of contractual limitations periods for insurance contracts. In doing so, the majority of four overrules more than 30 years of this Court’s precedent. Or, to borrow the majority’s rhetoric, the majority of four has replaced the “rule of law” with the “rule of four justices.”

 

In re-wrinting Michigan law, Justice Taylor denied Mary Ellen McDonald her day in court in front of a jury of her peers. I couldn’t help but recall the comments that Jstice Taylor made during “Law Day” in 2005 when he stated,

 

The founders of this country clearly understood, and were even willing to die for, the lesson of centuries of British jury trials: that the jury was a bulwark against tyranny“.

 

If he believed what he said, as I do, he should recognize that his actions in re-writing 30 years of established precedent [on no less than 2 occasions in the last 2 weeks!] is, on it’s face, tyrannical.

 

Justice Taylor is up for re-election this November. I don’t know who will be running against him. I do know that since I’m a Republican, most would expect me to vote for a Republican Justice who had been appointed by a Republican Governor, but I can’t.

 

And neither can many of the other Republicans I meet and speak with about these issues.

 

As a Republican, I believe in the system of checks and balances. I believe that no single arm of the government should become more powerful than the other. I believe that the “rule of four justices” that Justice Weaver mentions in her dissent flies in the face of everything our system of government stands for and I can stand for it no longer. It’s time to check and balance our State’s government.

 

It’s time to vote out Justice Taylor.