Daily Briefs, May 10

Pothole on the docket at state Supreme Court
EVELINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case about a northern Michigan pothole.
Arthur and Elaine Whitmore say they were injured in 2006 when their motorcycle hit a pothole in Charlevoix County’s Eveline Township. Michigan law says government can be liable if it knew or should have known about a road defect.
The Charlevoix County Road Commission says the Whitmores have failed to show that the agency had notice of a single, specific pothole that caused the accident. That will be a key issue for the Supreme Court.
The court last week agreed to hear arguments at a later date. Justices will decide whether to take a full appeal or order some other action.

Marleau: Legislation will help put an end to mortgage fraud
State Sen. Jim Marleau said Friday that a bipartisan, nine-bill package currently being considered by the Legislature would give prosecutors the tools they need to help put a stop to mortgage fraud in Oakland County and throughout the state.
“The importance of this issue cannot be stressed enough. Mortgage fraud affects every taxpayer and resident in Michigan and across the country,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “This legislation addresses one of the costliest and most troubling problems facing homeowners.”
The package creates a new crime of residential mortgage fraud and authorizes new sentencing guidelines and increased penalties for crimes such as forging deeds.
Marleau’s measure, Senate Bill 252, increases the maximum penalty for violating the notary public law to four years in prison. Under current law, the maximum penalty is one year.
“Notaries can play an important role in the mortgage fraud process. While most notaries act in good faith and compliance with the law, those who do not need to be punished to the fullest extent,” Marleau said.
Marleau outlined the reforms at a press conference in the Oakland County Courthouse. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Bill Bullard also spoke at the conference.
Schuette praised Marleau and his fellow legislators for working to strengthen state law to protect homeowners from the devastating consequences of mortgage fraud.
“Michigan homeowners deserve every possible legal protection against mortgage fraud,” Schuette said. “These reforms will give prosecutors and law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on criminals and protect homeowners.”
Johnson, who earned a national award for her efforts to fight mortgage fraud while serving as Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds, also thanked Marleau: “I applaud Senator Marleau’s legislation, which will help protect families and homeowners against mortgage and deed fraud and toughen the penalties for notary publics involved in fraudulent real estate acts. We must protect homeownership and the American dream for people who work so hard to purchase their own homes.”
Bullard agreed.
“In light of the fraudulent signatures our investigation uncovered that were solicited by big banks and financial institutions on mortgage foreclosure documents, I thank Senator Marleau for giving law enforcement additional tools,” Bullard said. “We must do everything we can to ensure the integrity of property records to protect homeowners and bring some sanity back to the mortgage system.”
SBs 43, 44, and 249 through 253 were recently approved by the Senate Banking and Finance Committee and are now before the full Senate for further consideration. House Bills 4462 and 4478 are before the House Committee on Judiciary.