Op/Ed- Did Timmer & Shinkle defy state legal precedence denying a vote on Michigan Public Act #4

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ROJS News Op/Ed

At ROJS News, we're not lawyers nor do we play attorneys on television. 



During instinctive legal debate April 26, 2012, in Lansing, Michigan on if state voters would be allowed to affirm or nullify Public Act #4; Attorney Herbert Sanders for Stand Up for Democracy team in his argument mentioned the case of Charter Township of Bloomfield v.s. Oakland County Clerk-September 6, 2002.

Legal precedence makes very interesting reading in light of two Republican members of Michigan's Board of Canvassers denying state voters rights determining validity of Public Act #4. Norman Shinkle, who has  a scrubbed Linked-In page, is an Attorney licensed to practice as a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in Michigan. A belief would be with his professional stature, Canvasser Shinkle would know most cases of Michigan Legal Precedent when it comes to Election Law.

Jeffery Timmer is a lobbyist, so to speak and political strategic work, by his Corporate Partnership status in Sterling Group. From Sterling Group's website:

Jeff provides the big-picture strategy for our clients. He is a veteran political and public affairs strategist specializing in public policy issue management, ballot proposal campaigns, and partisan political campaigns. Jeff also serves as Sterling’s Creative Director, overseeing development and production of Sterling’s, well, sterling printed materials and broadcast advertising for our clients. 
That nicely worded paragraph pretty much confirms that Canvasser Timmer, although not a attorney, should know the ends and outs of election law.

Which makes Timmer's and Shinkle's decision April 26, 2012, denying Michiganders a right to vote on a Constitutional Referendum petition for Public Act #4 more complex. Why would they, besides these Canvassers deep ties to Michigan's Republican Party politics, make such a aggrievance decision disallowing the public right to vote?

This is where legal precedent set in Charter Township of Bloomfield v.s. Oakland County- September 6, 2002 gains importance, as the Public Act #4 Petition Referendum vote fight will make its' way to Michigan Appellate Court System in the months ahead.

Let's start our journey into this case with this paragraph cited:

Because the injunction issued in this case does not merely affect the rights of private parties, but the right of the citizens of the City of Detroit to vote on a proposal by their elected charter revision commission, overlain on these basic elements [for injunctive relief] is another.
Our Supreme Court has stated it as follows: 
“ ‘Although there is authority to the contrary, the general rule is that an injunction will not issue to prevent the holding of an election whether or not the election is illegal, and that this is so whether the election relates to the filling of public office or other matters, such as changes in boundaries of political subdivisions and kindred matters.’ ” [Senior Accountants, Analysts & Appraisers Ass'n v. Detroit, 218 Mich.App. 263, 270, 553 N.W.2d 679 (1996), quoting Attorney General v. Ingham Circuit Judge, 347 Mich. 579, 583, 81 N.W.2d 349 (1957) (quoting 43 C.J.S., Injunctions, § 115[b], p. 644).]
Legal Injunctions are defined according to Free Dictionary.com as:
"A court order by which an individual is required to perform, or is restrained from performing, a particular act. A writ framed according to the circumstances of the individual case.
An injunction commands an act that the court regards as essential to justice, or it prohibits an act that is deemed to be contrary to good conscience. It is an extraordinary remedy, reserved for special circumstances in which the temporary preservation of the status quo is necessary."
Again, we're not lawyers, so this is our laymen version opinion of the Charter Township of Bloomfield v.s. Oakland County Clerk-September 6, 2002 Michigan Appellate Court Case.

Moving on, Michigan Appeals Court found and be aware, these paragraphs are a mix of legal ease-101:


"We conclude that the circuit court correctly declined to enjoin the September 11 election because a postelection quo warranto action constituted an adequate legal remedy available to the township.   
In reaching its decision, the circuit court astutely relied on St. Joseph Twp. v. Berrien County Supervisors, 363 Mich. 295, 109 N.W.2d 826 (1961), which we find precisely on point with the instant case and thus dispositive of the township's claim of entitlement to injunctive relief.   In St. Joseph Twp., the plaintiff township filed suit to enjoin the county board of supervisors and the city of St. Joseph from scheduling and holding an election regarding the annexation of property from the township to the city.  
The township alleged the “invalidity of necessary statutory procedures taken prior to the questioned election, and fraudulent participation of 2 city officials in a conspiracy designed to bring about annexation of the involved parcels for the benefit of a housing corporation;  the 2 officials being members of the directorate thereof.”   Id. at 296-297, 109 N.W.2d 826.
 
The trial court dismissed the township's action five days before the scheduled annexation election, which occurred as planned and resulted in approval of the annexation measure.  Id. On the township's appeal of the dismissal of its action, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's determination that the township had an adequate remedy at law: 
The chancellor's principal reason for dismissal was that of adequacy of a legal remedy under the statute. He was right.   The conclusion receives support by the fact, shown in the present record, that the plaintiff township and its supervisor have, since conduct of the election and within the allowed period, filed under the statute an information in the nature of quo warranto to test the validity of such election.  [Id. at 297, 109 N.W.2d 826 (citations omitted).] 
The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the township's action seeking injunctive relief.  Id. at 298, 109 N.W.2d 826."
So if we're reading this correctly, St. Joseph Township County, Michigan elected officials made an attempt to stop the citizens of St. Joseph, Michigan city to vote, on annexation. Afterwards, a lower trial court dismissed the plaintiff (St. Joseph County's) lawsuit based in part on alleged 'fraudulent actions' by of two city officials, shouldn't deny the people's right to vote. 
Ad-hoc group, Citizen's for Fiscal Responsibly, challenged the validity of the 202,000 plus signatures collected by Stand Up for Democracy team Public Act #4 petition on April 26th. The group made an argument in front of Michigan's Board of Canvassers that signatories of Public Act #4 petition might not have known what documents they signed, due to 'font-size'.

In light of legal precedent set in St. Joseph Township v.s. the city of St. Joseph City (1961), it would appear Michigan Board of Canvassers should have sided with Stand Up for Democracy counter-argument. Based on the fact, each person that signed its' petition known or should have known what measure the petition sought to have relief for, a Constitutional Referendum to confirm or nullify Public Act #4. 

Another point made by the Citizens for Fiscal Responsibly Group on April 26th which is owned and operated by Canvasser Jeffery Timmer, the Stand Up for Democracy Team didn't certify their petitions with Michigan's Department of Elections prior to signature collections. According to the Appeals Court decision in Charter Township of Bloomfield v.s. Oakland County Clerk (2002), the Stand Up for Democracy Team wasn't required to take this action first.
The township next contends that the annexation petitions did not contain the signatures of twenty percent of the required electors residing within the annexation area because four petitioners, who registered to vote in the township near the same time that they signed petitions, were not qualified and registered electors, as required by M.C.L. § 168.482(4).   
We initially address the township's assertion that the Oakland County Clerk did not properly certify the petitions because the clerk failed to verify the signatures of the petitioners by comparing them with the township's records, which contained signatures of its registered voters.   We find this claim wholly lacking merit.....   
We are not persuaded by the township's argument because it ignores the plain language of M.C.L. § 42.34(5), the subsection pursuant to which the instant annexation petitions were circulated.....  
To the extent the township raises a legitimate conflict between M.C.L. § 42.34(5), the specific statute pursuant to which the petitions were circulated to annex charter township property to Pontiac, and M.C.L. § 168.482(4), a subsection of the Michigan Election Law prescribing general and standardized petition language, we must conclude that the more specific statute controls.  Gebhardt v. O'Rourke, 444 Mich. 535, 542-543, 510 N.W.2d 900 (1994);  People v. Ellis, 224 Mich.App. 752, 756, 569 N.W.2d 917 (1997) (explaining that the more specific statute is treated as an exception to the general one). 
It appears Shinkle or Timmer had no rights to nullify by their votes, an election on Public Act #4 Constitution Referendum, at all based on a 1996 Michigan Supreme Court ruling in Senior Accountants, Analysts & Appraisers Ass'n v.s. Detroit (1996). This case was cited in Charter Township of Bloomfield v.s. Oakland County Clerk (2002) decision and agrued by Stand Up for Democracy Attorney at April 26th Board of Canvassers meeting.
"Because the injunction issued in this case does not merely affect the rights of private parties, but the right of the citizens of the City of Detroit to vote on a proposal by their elected charter revision commission, overlain on these basic elements [for injunctive relief] is another.   Our Supreme Court has stated it as follows: 
“ ‘Although there is authority to the contrary, the general rule is that an injunction will not issue to prevent the holding of an election whether or not the election is illegal, and that this is so whether the election relates to the filling of public office or other matters, such as changes in boundaries of political subdivisions and kindred matters.’ ” [Senior Accountants, Analysts & Appraisers Ass'n v. Detroit, 218 Mich.App. 263, 270, 553 N.W.2d 679 (1996), quoting Attorney General v. Ingham Circuit Judge, 347 Mich. 579, 583, 81 N.W.2d 349 (1957) (quoting 43 C.J.S., Injunctions, § 115[b], p. 644).]"
The next steps for Stand Up for Democracy Team and legal council is to take their case before the Michigan's Appeals Court and if necessary Michigan Supreme Court. 
One other avenue of possible adjudicative relief is for the Stand Up for Democracy Team to argue their case before U.S. Supreme Court based on the 15th and the Suffrage language contained within the 19th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
"Suffrage is often conceived in terms of elections for representatives; however, suffrage applies equally to initiative and referendum. Suffrage describes not only the legal right to vote, but also the practical question of whether a question will be put to a vote. The utility of suffrage is reduced when important questions are decided unilaterally by elected or unelected representatives."
ROJS News will continue to follow the on-going debate if Michigan Voters will be able to decide to re-affirm or deny Michigan's Public Act #4.

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