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MI Supreme Court opens 2023-24 session

Extra wide exterior shot of state Supreme Court building.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court opened its 2023-24 session Wednesday with its first oral arguments.

One of the first cases was about exactly when a train operator had a duty to pull the brakes when he saw a person walking along the track. The plaintiff is the family of an injured teenager who was wearing earbuds and did not hear the warning whistle.

The family sued Grand Trunk Western Railroad, arguing there was a point at which it became clear the 14-year-old did not hear the warning blast and the operators had a responsibility to stop or slow the train. The railroad said there is a presumption that someone walking on train tracks is aware of their surroundings.

There are criminal justice cases dealing with the use of polygraphs in the questioning of suspects and the rules for when police officers can block in a vehicle before approaching a driver for questioning.

And the court is considering a case on the October docket dealing with a neighbor who used a drone to take unauthorized aerial pictures of someone else’s property during a zoning fight.

On Thursday, the court will hear arguments on whether Lake Superior State University, Eastern Michigan University, and Central Michigan University owe students refunds of tuition, housing costs, and fees after the schools pivoted in 2020 from in-person classes to online learning during COVID-19.

The first of two days of oral arguments immediately follow the court’s final act of the last session — an order issued Tuesday that cleared the way for James and Jennifer Crumbley to face charges of involuntary manslaughter related to the Oxford high school shooting.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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