Michigan's highest court begins new term

A father whose parental rights were involuntarily terminated in a child protective proceeding is challenging a court’s order that he remains responsible for child support, in a case that the Michigan Supreme Court will hear this week as the court holds the first oral arguments of its 2010-11 term.
In In re Beck, a family court judge terminated the father’s rights to his children in a Juvenile Code proceeding.
The father appealed, challenging only that part of the court’s order that required him to continue paying child support.
But the Court of Appeals affirmed the family court’s ruling.
While acknowledging that the Juvenile Code does not address the issue of post-termination child support, the Court of Appeals said that children have a right to financial support from parents, and that right is not dependent on whether a parent retains his or her rights to the child.
Moreover, public policy favors requiring parents whose rights have been terminated to pay child support; otherwise, the full weight of financial responsibility would fall on the other parent, often with assistance from the state, the appellate court reasoned.
The court will also hear arguments in In re Certified Question/Waeschle v Oakland County Medical Examiner, in which the court has agreed to answer a certified question from the federal district court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The plaintiff’s mother died at a nursing home after suffering a closed head injury.
As part of a police investigation, the mother’s body was autopsied and her brain removed for further examination; the brain was later discarded as medical waste.
The plaintiff sued in federal court, alleging that her constitutional rights were violated because she was not informed that the medical examiner had retained her mother’s brain, nor did the examiner return the brain to her.
The certified question is: “Assuming that a decedent’s brain has been removed by a medical examiner in order to conduct a lawful investigation into the decedent’s cause of death, do the decedent’s next-of-kin have a right under Michigan law to possess the brain in order to properly bury or cremate the same after the brain is no longer needed for forensic examination?”
The remaining 14 cases involve issues of child welfare, criminal, environmental, insurance, medical malpractice, procedural, and real property law.
In keeping with a long-standing custom, the court’s seven Justices will hear the first case of the new term in the Old Courtroom in the Capitol building.
The court will then adjourn and resume hearing oral arguments in its courtroom on the sixth floor of the Michigan Hall of Justice.
Court will be held on October 5, 6, and 7, beginning at 9:30 a.m. each day. The Court’s oral arguments are open to the public.

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