Kilpatrick dodges hearing – for now

  Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has gotten a repreive from the Michigan Court Of Appeals, which halted his Friday probation violation hearing, reported The Detroit Free Press:

The ruling also put on hold, at least temporarily, an arrest warrant signed [Thursday] by Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner for Kilpatrick after he failed to make a $79,011 court-ordered restitution payment stemming from his criminal case along with additional allegations that he failed to give a “complete and accurate accounting” of his wife’s finances.

 The warrant also alleges that Kilpatrick failed to surrender all his tax refunds and did not account for all his gifts and benefits, including the $240,000 lent to him by various business leaders, including Peter Karmanos, Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and Jim Nicholson.

 Nonetheless, the appellate judges had words for Daniel Hajji, one of Kilpatrick’s attorneys, after Hajji argued this week in court filings that his client

 In the motion to stop the proceedings, Hajji wrote Tuesday that the former Detroit mayor has to maintain an upper-crust lifestyle in Texas because he is trying to sell computer systems to “the privileged and the affluent.”

 Appellate Judge Karen Fort Hood wrote that Hajji’s filing is “unconscionable and does not merit serious consideration.”

 The warrant was requested by the state Department of Corrections and Kilpatrick’s probation officer.

 Additionally, the warrant says Kilpatrick did not turn over his state and city pension, as required by his 2008 plea agreement.

  There was no time frame given for a resolution, but you can bet this case his the highest priority and will be adressed immediately, if not sooner.


COA: Appeal of post-judgment order must be filed separately if cross-appeal already filed

In Mossing v Demlow, the defendant prevailed via summary disposition in the trial court in an accord and satisfaction case, but considered separate of that order the issue of costs and fees to the prevailing party. The plaintiff appealed the summary disposition order, and the defendant cross-appealed.

After the cross-appeal was filed, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion for costs and fees. Defendant then raised the issue of costs and fees as part of its cross appeal.

The Court of Appeals upheld the summary disposition order, but said that the issue of costs and fees must be appealed separately because it arose from a separate order:

Because we need not decide in this case whether a post-judgment order granting or denying an award of attorney fees and costs that is entered before a claim of cross appeal is filed in this Court must nevertheless be separately appealed, we decline to do so. Rather, we only hold in this case that a separate appeal from such a post-judgment order must be filed when that order is entered in the trial court after the claim of cross appeal is filed in this Court.

The court acknowledged that its decision left the defendant with no remedy for an issue on which it “very likely” would have prevailed.

We recognize that failing to address the merits of this issue does a certain injustice in this case because defendants would very likely prevail on the merits given the mandatory, rather than discretionary, nature of the award of attorney fees and costs under MCL 600.2961(6) and that the trial court most likely erred in denying an award as to the claim raised under that statute.
Nonetheless, we believe that we have no choice but to conclude that this Court’s jurisdiction has not been properly invoked to allow us to review that order. Defendants had to have filed a claim of appeal from the order denying the award of fees and costs or, having failed to do that in a timely manner, filed an application for leave to appeal from that order.

MI COA: Adding a joint owner to home maintains taxable value when original owner dies

ED WHITE, Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) — A dispute over a modest three-bedroom home in northern Michigan could have consequences statewide after an appeals court said the city of Charlevoix illegally raised the property’s taxable value when a co-owner died.

Taxes more than tripled after James Klooster’s death in 2005. Charlevoix had lifted the lid on the value, even though a son was a co-owner and the property didn’t change hands.

"James’ death was not a conveyance. … There was no transfer of ownership, and the taxable value of the property should not have been uncapped," the Michigan Court of Appeals said.

Assessors and local governments up and down Michigan are talking about the Dec. 15 decision. Any court-ordered restriction on raising a property’s taxable value prevents them from collecting more revenue.

Since Michigan voters approved Proposal A in 1994, the taxable value of a home can’t go up much unless there’s a new owner, typically through a sale.

Nathan Klooster, 50, said his father added him to the deed as a joint tenant, or co-owner, in August 2004, five months before his death.

Klooster said his mother, who has health problems, and a disabled sister still live in the house.

"My dad’s goal was he didn’t want to see them put in a home or go anywhere else. We talked about it at great length," said Klooster, who lives nearby in Marion Township.

But Charlevoix claimed the elder Klooster’s death triggered a transfer of ownership, raising the home’s taxable value to $72,300 from $37,802.

"We uncapped it because he was the sole owner of the property," Charlevoix County equalization director Betsy Mason said, referring to Klooster’s son.

Nathan Klooster said taxes have jumped to about $4,000 a year from $1,168. (Part of the increase is due to the lack of a homestead exemption because this is not his principal residence.)

Klooster’s lawyer, Steven Stapleton, said the court ruling "potentially has a bigger ripple" elsewhere in Michigan. Mason disagreed with the result.

"I don’t believe it was the intent of the Legislature to have a loophole for the uncapping process," she said. The consequences "go far beyond this one parcel."

[Ed. note – I don’t believe it was the intent of the Legislature either, because Proposal A was passed by referendum, and not passed by the legislature.]

Charlevoix hasn’t decided whether to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Grand Rapids lawyer Jeffrey Ammon, who specializes in property-tax law, said the Klooster case "should give comfort to taxpayers."

"Assessors are looking at any transfers, any deeds, any deaths to increase taxes," he said. "I don’t blame them for that. If they’re missing that sort of thing they’re not doing their job."

Appellate courts announce holiday hours

The Michigan Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the State Court Administrative office have posted holiday schedules. The Court of Appeals has a slightly different schedule from the MSC and SCAO due to scheduled furlough days.

Michigan Supreme Court and SCAO
Closed Wednesday, December 24
Closed Thursday, December 25
Open Friday, December 26
Open Monday, December 29
Open Tuesday, December 30
Closed Wednesday, December 31
Closed Thursday, January 1
Open Friday, January 2

Michigan Court of Appeals
Closed Wednesday, December 24
Closed Thursday, December 25
Closed Friday, December 26
Open Monday, December 29
Open Tuesday, December 30
Closed Wednesday, December 31
Closed Thursday, January 1
Closed Friday, January 2