In The News

In The News

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Governor Whitmer's Executive Orders: 118 in Total - Where Do We Stand?

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols

We will not try to cover everything in our lives in Michigan with this update. June 15th will see many services and sectors of our economy resume. Not everything but many things. This article with cover what is going on in the law – and there is a lot going on in the law; courts re-opening but zooming, the landlord-tenant cases will resume (soon) but in a somewhat confusing way, no jury trials until at least the end of the month (who will want to go in front of a jury unless your incarcerated and got a dead bang winning case), auto-insurance reform will take effect in July and business interruption claims with insurance companies are going to be “a thing.” Let us not forget election law and the debate over absentee voting.

Executive Order (EO) 2020-110 caused a lot of confusion especially when EO 2020-114 & 115 followed in its footsteps within days. On June 1, EO 2020-110 said “…retailers will be allowed to resume operations on June 4.” Period. Retailers include such stores as tanning salons. They are not licensed by the state, they sell products and that includes time in the tanning booth or bed.

Then, EO 2020-115, 3 days later, ordering that the operation of facilities offering non-essential personal care services was rescinded on June 15, 2020. For tanning salons, whether a ticket was issued was based on where the salon was located because some county prosecutors interpreted the 2nd order to prohibit them from opening. I guess it is a matter of “see you in court.”

Courts are starting to re-open. The Michigan Supreme Court issued an Administrative Order (A0) 2020-18 on Friday June 12, which re-starts the “clock” for statutes of limitations on the “court rule” side. Because the MSC cannot legislate, the governor had to issue an EO on Friday the 12th that rescinded an earlier EO to that effect. The short version is that the statutes of limitations are “tolled” for 102 days.

It will continue to be important that if you have a matter pending in any Michigan courthouse that you check with the court first or with your attorney. The State Bar of Michigan (which is the association that regulates attorneys and the practice of law in Michigan) has tried to create a master list for every local court: https://www.michbar.org/generalinfo/CourtLAOs but if you look carefully, you will see that it is pretty outdated. Look at the court’s website or call your lawyer.

If you are on jury duty – like me – you do not have to worry about Jury duty until June 22, 2020. Again, check with the court by going on the website or if it is not clear call the jury clerk. Every court will have 1 person whose assignment is to communicate with juries.

Evictions for non-payment of rent are still on hold but if you are a landlord, that does not mean you have no recourse for someone who damages your property or threatens others on the property if they are a tenant or without recourse if they fail to pay rent. EO 2020-118, which was issued on June 11, 2020 you can still demand payment and even file suit for non-payment. Which you still are not allowed to do is evict someone or demand possession of your premises. The court is temporarily unable to refuse to adjourn hearings in Landlord-Tenant cases. It appears that all of these restrictions last through June.

The “mask” rule and other workplace protections: It still is unclear what the penalty is for someone who refuses to wear a mask at work or out in public in an area in which masks are “required.” The Court of Claims ruled that EO 2020-98 went too far in its penalty clause that invoked the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) and a felony prison sentence and whopping fine.

Does that mean it is a misdemeanor if your workplace falls short in the lengthy and ad hoc requirements for establishing and following a workplace safety plan? EO 2020-114 makes reference to MIOSHA as well as the Governors Emergency Powers Act but does not explicitly say whether a violation is a misdemeanor. Paragraph 15 of this 16 page order says that the rules “have the force and effect of regulations adopted by the departments and agencies with responsibility for overseeing compliance with workplace health-and-safety standards and are fully enforceable by such agencies.” This is why I do not think a police officer can validly write a misdemeanor “appearance ticket” and a local prosecutor cannot prosecute a violation of EO 2020-114 (like if you’re “caught” at a tanning salon before June 15th).

More confusion for you – more fun for your lawyer. Enjoy the beautiful weather in any event and know that we are creeping closer to the next phase.

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.