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A little history here–Michigan lawmakers who bar poor from courts

June 9, 2009
The Michigan Hall of Justice at night.
Image via Wikipedia

Legislation was enacted around 2005 in Michigan that stated that any party injured by a medical professional had to PAY ANOTHER DOCTOR TO SAY THE PATIENT COULD GO TO COURT, and while the legality of this political manuevering is still under question, it appears that we can’t get the complete campaign finance information for Michigan’s officals in the year preceding this legislation (2004), because Michigan has no laws that make the campaign contributions completely transparent:

Accountability is
inadequate
The current campaign
finance reporting system in
Michigan falls badly short
in providing timely oversight of
political fundraising and spending.
In many instances, voters can’t tell
who is providing major financial
support to a political campaign
until long after the election. In
some cases, voters never will know.

While this report was put out in 2004, it seems reasonable to assume that by 2005, I could look to see which special interest groups funded the legislators’ votes on approving the affidavit of merit statute.

Particularly of interest to me is the issue of who contributed to the Supreme Court nominations, because justices rule over or must recuse themselves from ruling over cases in which one party has a vested interest.  In other words, if the judges got lots of money for their campaign financing from medical groups, then they shouldn’t be hearing cases of medical malpractice.  Well, in my investigation of med mal law here in MI, it seems that all the surrounding judges may have received money from special interest groups.  Here is an example:

MCFN
MCFN
research shows that the Michigan
Chamber of Commerce spent $1.4
million in the last three weeks
before the November 2004 election
for television advertisements that
touted incumbent Supreme Court
Justice Stephen Markman for
“protecting victims and fighting for
our values.” But since the Chamber
didn’t mention voting, they didn’t
have to report their activity. This
means that the public will never
know who gave the Chamber that
$1.4 million.

How many local doctors are members of the Chamber of Commerce, which made the last ditch advertising efforts worth more than a million dollars?  Would this count as showing that this particular elected justice would be incapable of ruling on a case regarding the affidavit of merit or the medical malpractice industry if the Chamber of Commerce funding was really a group of local physicians?  Sure, the judge would then be barred from hearing the case, but MI voters will never know who gave that funding, because there is no law stating that ALL funding must be disclosed.

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