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MI Supreme Court declines to weigh in on federal gun case

 Michigan Hall Of Justice Supreme Court Building In Lansing
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Michigan Hall of Justice Supreme Court building in Lansing

The Michigan Supreme Court has said “no” to a request from a federal judge for help in deciding a complicated case involving 14 guns seized by Saginaw County Sheriff's deputies from a hunting cabin.

Here’s the background: The guns were seized by the deputies in 2017 during a domestic violence call that resulted in a conviction.

A man was convicted of domestic violence but relatives who shared the same hunting cabin say the seized guns are theirs and they want them back.

They say the sheriff’s department, by refusing to hand over the guns, violated their rights under the 4th and 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

U.S District Court Judge Thomas Ludington sent a formal request to the Michigan Supreme Court last November asking for answers to questions regarding the state’s forfeiture law.

The questions focus on timelines for providing notice to parties that may have some ownership interest in seized property.

The request for what’s called a “certified question” is rare. And the justices are typically reluctant to take a case that hasn’t gone through the normal process to land before the state’s highest court.

The response to Ludington’s request was no exception: “On order of the Court, the questions certified by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan are considered, and the Court respectfully declines the request to answer the certified questions.”

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