Tuesday, Aug. 1 , 10:15 am to 10:45 am
Michigan Court of Appeals
3020 W. Grand Blvd., 14th floor, Detroit, MI 48202
Following the press conference, at 10:45am, supporters will pack the court. The ACLU asks that we WEAR RED SHIRTS to visibly, but quietly, show our support of the lawsuit.
From the ACLU:
The August 1st Hearing
• In late 2016, Judge Colombo found that our claim against Wayne County was based on a good legal theory but that he did not have the authority to hear the case. Instead, in his view, the proper court to hear the case was the Michigan Tax Tribunal. We disagree. So we appealed his decision to a higher court, the Michigan Court of Appeals.
• On August 1, 2017, the higher court is going to hear our appeal. We will be asking the court to give Judge Colombo the authority to hear the lawsuit against Wayne County because the lower court is the proper place to hear this type of federal discrimination claim.
• What you will see at the hearing is a panel of three judges who will ask the lawyers on both sides of the case questions about the case.
• If we succeed, the case against Wayne County is alive again and we can continue to pursue relief for Detroit homeowners in the lower court.
• Ultimately, we are hoping to stop the unconstitutional tax foreclosures until Wayne County conducts proper and lawful tax assessments on those properties.
History of Lawsuit
• In June 2016, The ACLU of Michigan, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and lawyers from Covington & Burling LLP filed a lawsuit against the Wayne County Treasurer, Wayne County and the City of Detroit. We sued to challenge the illegal and racially discriminatory tax foreclosures that have hit African-American homeowners the hardest in recent years.
• The lawsuit was brought on behalf of seven Detroit homeowners and a coalition of neighborhood associations from throughout the City including the Historic Russell Woods-Sullivan Area Association, the MorningSide Community Organization, the Oakman Boulevard Community Association and Neighbors Building Brightmoor.
• We sued Wayne County because they foreclosed on thousands of homes despite knowing that their property taxes were illegally high. The foreclosures are a type of illegal housing discrimination that has a larger impact on people of color. As a result, this was a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act because racial discrimination in housing is prohibited by the Act.
• In Michigan, homeowners must pay property taxes based on the fair market value of their homes. Cities are required to determine this value by an annual assessment of property values. Homeowners in Detroit and other predominately African-American Wayne County municipalities, however, have been taxed as if their homes were worth much more than their fair market value.
• Most notably, the City of Detroit did not reduce property assessments to reflect declining home values in 2008. But, the lawsuit also alleges that Detroit had failed to conduct meaningful property assessments even before home prices fell dramatically in 2008.