Outside Legal Counsel PLC

OLC Files Amicus Brief to Restore Juries to Lawsuits Against the State

For Immediate Release | Dec 28, 2023

Attorney Philip L. Ellison of Outside Legal Counsel PLC filed an amicus brief on behalf of Bay County builder and property developer whose current lawsuit about police tactics is being refused a jury trial.

An amicus brief, the name given to a brief filed by a "friend of the court," seeks to have the Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court look to tradition and history to find that that lawsuits against State government should be subject to the same type of jury trials that local governments are subject to when citizens sue about wrongdoing.

Currently, lawsuits heard in the Michigan Court of Claims are not provided with the option to have a jury trial rather than a judge trial.

The amicus brief points out that the law in effect before Michigan became a state, known as the Northwest Ordinance, protected the right to a jury trial since the Nation's early founding.

The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, and of the trial by jury; of a proportionate representation of the people in the legislature; and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law.
Michigan's first Constitution explained that a jury is a right that "shall remain inviolate." Later revisions provide that a right to a jury trial "shall remain."

  • Link to Amicus Brief