Amicus Brief

Bonnie L. Hoff v City of Marquette

Case Year: 2008
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: Open Meetings Act (OMA), quorum
Amicus Counsel:

Don M. Schmidt | Steven D. Mann | Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. | 150 West Jefferson Suite 2500 |Detroit, Michigan 48226

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
2. Michigan State Bar Public Corporation Law Section (PCLS)


A sub-quorum meeting of members of a public body acting individually without delegation or authority from the public body as a whole does not constitute a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The OMA is applicable to meetings at which a quorum is present. The Defendants-Appellants actions did not constitute a violation of the OMA. The Court of Appeals erred in finding that sub-quorum meetings in this case were a
violation of the OMA. The OMA was carefully drafted to prevent decisions by a quorum of a governing body from being made outside the public view. See MCL 15.263(2). The language of the OMA is consistent in its application to situations involving a quorum of a governing body. The Legislature carefully crafted a “bright line” statutory test to determine when meetings of a public body must be open to the public, e.g., when a quorum is present. The decision by the Court of Appeals has blurred this “bright line” statutory test and created situations in which meetings of less than a quorum of a public body constitute a violation of the OMA. This case presents this Court with an opportunity to correct the judicial interpretation by the Court of Appeals and restore the requirements of the OMA as plainly written.


On order of the Court, the motion for miscellaneous relief is GRANTED. The application for leave to appeal the July 8, 2008 judgment of the Court of Appeals is considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

In December 2000, Hoff accepted the position of City Attorney for the City of Marquette. Hoff alleges that she thereafter suffered numerous instances of alleged discrimination during her employment with the City. In May 2004, a special meeting was called, and the agenda included an item regarding
discussion of ”’the confidentiality of City Attorney reports[.]” During the meeting, the City Commission went into closed session, presumably to discuss the confidentially issue. However,
after the closed session, Bradley, seconded by Irby, moved to terminate Hoffs employment. The motion was unsuccessful, but the next day, Bradley allegedly made a “defamatory statement” to a news reporter, stating ‘that he and ‘enough of us’ (commissioners) had ‘lost trust’ in the City Attorney.”
In September 2004, Peterson allegedly threatened Hoff with the elimination of her department. On October 8, 2004, Hoff’s counsel wrote a letter to Irby, stating that Hoff had been
exposed to a hostile work environment and stated that “[m]ore than one citizen has noted the sexism inherent in that position.” Hoff’s counsel stated that this alleged behavior would no
longer be tolerated.

Case Number: 2008-01
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