DHS prevails in federal audit appeal

News about former Justice Maura Corrigan, getting busy in her new role as Department of Human Services director:

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan today announced that the DHS prevailed in a federal appeal and, as a result, passed a 2010 audit of its performance of the
federal IV-E program in Michigan. Title IV-E of the federal Social Security Act covers federal
funding for Michigan’s foster care and adoption assistance programs.

In June 2010, the DHS underwent a federal review of the state’s program operation. The
weeklong review of 80 foster care cases determined whether DHS had correctly determined
eligibility for children under its care and custody. The state was allowed to have a 5 percent error
rate, or four cases.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families
notified Michigan last August that the state did not pass the review because it identified six error
cases. Two of the error cases resulted in a total disallowance of $67,264 in federal funds.
The Michigan attorney general, on behalf of DHS, appealed this finding to the federal Department
Appeals Board in November 2010. The federal board issued a decision Jan. 14 finding for the
DHS. It reversed the disallowance and ruled Michigan is operating the Title IV-E program in
accordance with federal regulations.

“The Department of the Attorney General provided DHS with excellent legal representation in our
appeal of the federal review findings,” Corrigan said. “Moreover, the entire team for DHS and the
State Court Administrators Office deserves our praise for their fine work in conducting the
preparation for the review.”

The federal IV-E program provided about $224.2 million in funds for the Michigan foster care and
adoption programs during fiscal year 2009, the most recent year for which records are available.

Because of the decision, Michigan will not be required to conduct a subsequent federal onsite
review until 2013. The 2010 review was Michigan’s third of the IV-E program since 2004.
Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. of the Michigan Supreme Court commended both Corrigan
and the attorney general for their advocacy on behalf of Michigan’s children and on the proper
operation of the Title IV-E federal program.

“Former Justice Corrigan made the commitment to DHS several years ago that she would work to
assure courts operated in compliance with federal Title IV-E program regulations,” said Young.
“Her tireless commitment and advocacy resulted in outstanding news for Michigan with this
review. The Supreme Court will continue to work with former Justice Corrigan in her new role as
DHS director to continue the same high level of collaboration.”

Young also praised SCAO’s Child Welfare Services Division for its work on the audit and appeal:
“In particular, we should acknowledge CWS Management Analyst Jenifer Pettibone, who played
a leading role on this successful appeal,” Young said. “Pettibone’s work is a fine example of how
the judicial branch has supported DHS, not only in this appeal process, but also in child welfare
work in general.”

Source: State of Michigan


Who’s next?

So the scuttlebutt around the Michigan Lawyers Weekly office this afternoon, now that it’s fairly certain that Justice Maura D. Corrigan is going to leave the Michigan Supreme Court to join the Gov. Rick Snyder cabinet is: who’s next?

Who has the qualifications to be a good Michigan Supreme Court justice? And the conservatism to please the Republican base? And importantly, who can win an election in 2012?

An obvious choice is Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Jane Markey. She was a candidate early for the Michigan Supreme Court race, but the Republicans nominated Mary Beth Kelly to run in the nonpartisan election. Kelly won handily, garnering more votes than incumbents Justice Robert P. Young Jr. (who is expected to be named Chief Justice tomorrow at the Court’s case conference), and Alton T. Davis, a popular northern Michigan candidate.

But a possibly magical choice, according to Inside Michigan Politics publisher Bill Ballenger, is Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly.

“Can you imagine the good fortune of having a great name like that?” he said.

And, he added, she’s qualified.

It’s a very personal decision that Gov. Snyder has to make, Ballenger added. And certainly, he said, Markey is a qualified choice.

“But it’s important to remember that who ever the new justice is going to be will have to win an election in 2012 (for the remainder of Corrigan’s term, which ends in 2014) and again in 2014 (for a full term),” Ballenger said.

It’s possible that the new governor has known this for some time, he added.

“There was a suggestion that Justice Corrigan has been interested for some time in leaving the Court, possibly as early as last spring or summer,” he said. “So this may have always been in the back of Gov. Snyder’s mind. It’s going to be a very thoughtful appointment, no matter who he selects.”