Cline, Cline & Griffin Secures a Court of Appeals Victory

Cline, Cline & Griffin secured a Court of Appeals victory over Michigan's Secretary of State and the Board of State Canvassers in the case of a Genesee County Circuit judge.


Cline, Cline & Griffin attorneys Tim Knecht, Paul Vance and Nancy Chinonis recently represented Genesee County Circuit Judge Bernhardt 'Chris' D. Christenson before the Michigan Court of Appeals in an action to uphold a writ of mandamus that was appealed by the Michigan Secretary of State and the Board of State Canvassers.


Judge Christenson, who was running for judicial office in 2020, had his nominating petitions challenged by another candidate for circuit judge. The challenge was over the use of Judge Christenson’s business address in the heading of the nominating petitions instead of using his residential address. Cline, Cline & Griffin successfully argued before the Michigan Court of Claims that the plain language of this state’s election law does not require use of a candidate’s residence address on nominating petition headings. On this basis, the Michigan Court of Claims granted Judge Christenson’s request for a writ of mandamus and ordered the Secretary of State to accept Judge Christenson’s petitions and be added to the August 4, 2020 primary ballot for Genesee County Circuit Court Judge.


Michigan’s Secretary of State and the Board of State Canvassers appealed the Court of Claim’s decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals arguing that the Court of Claims erred in its interpretation of the plain language of the state’s election law and that granting Judge Christenson the extraordinary remedy of mandamus relief was improper.


In a published opinion on March 11, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the order from the Michigan Court of Claims, holding that Judge Christenson demonstrated his entitlement to mandamus relief and that the Court of Claims correctly interpreted the state’s election law in finding that the law does not require use of a candidate’s residence address on nominating petition headings. As such, Judge Christenson’s nominating petitions were sufficient and Michigan’s Secretary of State and the Board of State Canvassers were duty bound to have placed his name on the August 4, 2020 primary ballot.


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