EMERGENCY MANAGER LITIGATION UPDATE:
The plaintiffs who have been challenging the lawfulness of Michigan's draconian Emergency Manager law - based on its
unconstitutional denial of substantive due process and equal protection rights as well as violation of the federal Voting Rights
Act -- have been dealt another blow by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. In November 2014, the district judge
George Steeh, granted the State's motion to dismiss on all of the plaintiffs' legal claims except for their race-based
equal protection challenge. After a year of intensive discovery on that remaining claim, the plaintiffs were able to file a
claim of appeal to the 6th Circuit on all the other claims that had been dismissed. We traveled to Cincinnati to argue the
appeal on August 4, in front of an extremely right-wing conservative panel, but with hundreds of supporters at our backs
in the courtroom.
On September 14, 2016, the 6th Circuit panel - predictably - upheld all of Judge Steeh's rulings, going steps further
by holding that the State has the power under the law to literally deprive selective local communities of
their right to elect local representatives to govern, regardless of the fact that the State has targeted only those
communities in which a majority of African Americans reside and vote! Precisely because the courts are a
reflection of the ideological views of the judges who preside, we had no delusions about the outcome; indeed,
just knowing who the 3-judge panel was (which we learned of 2 weeks prior to August 4), it would have been
shocking had the outcome been different.
We are preparing a petition to the full Court of Appeals for a rehearing en banc, which we plan to file by
October 3. Assuming that petition is denied, and depending on the outcome of the upcoming election, we will
then consider seeking certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the struggle against Emergency Manager
laws must continue in the streets, in our communities and in the voting booth!
[Pro Bono Legal Team: National Lawyers Guild (MCHR Board member Julie Hurwitz); Sugar Law Center (John Philo);
Mark Fancher); Center for Constitutional Rights (Darius Charney); Cynthia Heenan; Herb Sanders]
All of the activists who were arrested on July 18, 2014 while blocking the Homrich Inc. driveway to prevent further Detroit water shutoffs, have been waiting for rulings from Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway on a number of appeals filed by the City Law Department/Duggan, since November 2015, after: 1) the jury trial of two of the defendants was "stayed" after the jury heard closing arguments and jury instructions, immediately before they were going to go into deliberations to render a verdict; and 2) the bench trial of the remaining five defendants was "stayed" before their trial could begin.
On September 2, 2016, Judge Hathaway finally ruled on the City prosecutor's appeals from the 36th District Court: 1) Claiming that the jury trial of MCHR board member Bill Wylie-Kellerman and his co-defendant Marian Kramer was so "tainted" by evidence of the injustices surrounding the
mass water shut-offs that the prosecution was denied a fair trial and therefore they were entitled
to a mistrial; and
2) Claiming that the not-yet-tried bench trials of MCHR board member Kim Redigan and her co-defendants
Marianne McGuire, Jim Perkinson, Hans Barbe, and David Olson should not be allowed a bench trial and should not be
allowed to present evidence to show that their actions were justified by preventing the imminent harms caused by sudden
water shutoffs in the City of Detroit, i.e. the "duress defense." In his rulings, Judge Hathaway, as expected, issued two
opinions ruling in favor of the City on all these issues.
On September 23, 2016, the legal team filed two Motions for Reconsideration in order to preserve their continuing rights to
appeal further. The legal defense team -- the activist/arrestees and a group of pro bono attorneys and legal workers -
will be meeting over the next few weeks to formulate the strategy for next steps. Undoubtedly, the City continues
to take a highly aggressive approach toward these cases and is continuing to use these cases in an attempt to "chill"
fundamentally protected rights to protest against the inhumane policies causing untold suffering to tens of thousands of
poor and working Detroit residents.
[Pro Bono Legal Team: National Lawyers Guild: Julie Hurwitz (MCHR Board member), John Royal, Allison Kriger,
Rick Haberman, Lee Andrews, with volunteer contribution from Ashley Carter; and Bill Wylie-Kellerman (MCHR Board member),
BREAKING: Homrich 9 will be back in court. Tuesday 11/1 10am in Judge Ruth Garrett's 36th District Court. Michael Hathaway
declared a mistrial in September so we are starting trial all over again. Come to the Rally and press conference out front a
t 9am. Join us in the courtroom for the 10am pre-trial. Stop the Shut-offs. Water affordability.
by Julie Hurwitz MCHR Board Member