COA to Maroun: stay put

The Michigan Court of Appeals has denied an emergency motion to get billionaire Manuel “Matty” Maroun and Dan Stamper out of jail.

Lawyers for Maroun and Stamper said their imprisonment yesterday, ordered by Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards, violates the pair’s due process rights. Judge Edwards tossed them in jail for violating — for nearly two years — an order to bring the Detroit International Bridge Co. border crossing into compliance. The failure to comply, according to one of the seven motions filed yesterday, arises not from willful contempt, but from “differing interpretations of their respective contractual obligations in connection with a portion of the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project.”

Further, attorneys for the pair say that neither man was a party to the action in which the order was entered in February 2010, so neither has been “held to have personally violated any order of the Court, and at no point throughout the proceedings have Mr. Maroun or Mr. Stamper ever been ordered to show cause why they should not be held in contempt or should not be jailed. …. Mr. Maroun and Mr. Stamper [have] never been given notice that either was in jeopardy of being found in contempt or jailed.”

Counsel immediately moved for release pending appeal (read filing here), and the Court quickly denied it.

But Maroun’s lawyers have a chance to scramble today to make a successful motion, since the denial was based on procedural grounds.

The motion, the Court said, relies on MCL 770.8, which is not applicable to a civil contempt ruling.

From the order (read here): “When an appellant fails to challenge the basis of the rulings by the trial court, we need not even consider granting the party the relief requested. … Furthermore, although Maroun and Stamper challenge the trial court’s authority for directing their imprisonment, they have not filed a motion for peremptory reversal and/or for a stay of the trial court’s January 12, 2012, order.”

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Judge mulls release of Ambassador Bridge safety report

Rep. John Dingell thinks the public should see the maintenance report of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, putting him at odds with the bridge’s owners, reports The Detroit News.

But Dingell is withholding release of the 2007 report he received last week pending a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Duggan.

From The News:

The Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns the bridge that is the busiest international crossing between the United States and Canada, filed a lawsuit Sept. 25 to prevent the release of the report, citing security and proprietary business reasons. …

Dan Stamper, president of the DIBC, said Friday he’s open to releasing a shorter safety report for the public in the next two weeks if his attorneys don’t see any liability concerns.

“The bottom line is the bridge is safe,” Stamper said. “We do a thorough, annual inspection of the bridge. In fact, our inspection is so thorough that that is why we are concerned about it being released.

“It has information on the vulnerabilities of the bridge structure that could be used by terrorists to figure out where the best place to attack the bridge would be.”