The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



STATE OF MICHIGAN

JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL


ATTORNEYS:

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW:

LEGISLATURE:

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION:

Validity of 2000 PA 112 defining "resident" for purpose of admission to state bar


2000 PA 112, which defines the term "resident" for purposes of qualifying for admission to the state bar, does not violate Const 1963, art 4,  24, which requires that a law not embrace more than one object that must be expressed in its title.

2000 PA 112, which defines the term "resident" for purposes of qualifying for admission to the state bar, does not constitute special legislation under Const 1963, art 4,  29, which requires approval by two-thirds of the members serving in each house of the Legislature.


Opinion No. 7068

December 6, 2000


Mr. William E. Rheaume, President
State Board of Law Examiners
200 Washington Square North
Lansing, MI 48909


You have asked two questions regarding 2000 PA 112, a statute which amends the qualifications for admission to the bar of this state.

Your first question asks whether 2000 PA 112, which defines the term "resident" for purposes of qualifying for admission to the state bar, violates Const 1963, art 4,  24, which requires that a law not embrace more than one object that must be expressed in its title. You specifically ask whether 2000 PA 112 embraces more than one object, namely the unauthorized practice of law and residency requirements for admission to practice law in Michigan.

The Revised Judicature Act of 1961 (RJA), 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.101 et seq; MSA 27A.101 et seq, provides for the powers and duties of the courts of this state, and the judges and officers of these courts. RJA section 934, which establishes qualifications for admission to the state bar, requires that an applicant be a resident of one of the states or territories or the District of Columbia. 2000 PA 112 amended section 934 to define "resident" as follows:
"Resident" includes, but is not limited to, a member of the military service of the United States or its allies who holds a temporary visa or permanent resident visa issued by the United States immigration and naturalization service.

Const 1963, art 4,  24, provides, in pertinent part, that:
No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title.

In People ex rel Drake v Mahaney, 13 Mich 481, 494 (1865), the Michigan Supreme Court explained the one object requirement of what is now art 4, 24:
The history and purpose of this constitutional provision are too well understood to require any elucidation at our hands. The practice of bringing together into one bill subjects diverse in their nature, and having no necessary connection, with a view to combine in their favor the advocates of all, and thus secure the passage of several measures, no one of which could succeed upon its own merits, was one both corruptive of the legislator and dangerous to the state.

The object of a statute is its general purpose or aim. Advisory Opinion re Constitutionality of 1972 PA 294, 389 Mich 441, 467; 208 NW2d 469 (1973). A statute may include any provision that furthers the general purpose or aim. Kuhn v Dep't of Treasury, 384 Mich 378, 388; 183 NW2d 796 (1971). All matters germane to the object of the statute may be included as well as those which directly relate to, carry out and implement the principal object. Advisory Opinion re Constitutionality of 1972 PA 294, supra. City of Livonia v Dep't of Social Services, 423 Mich 466, 499; 378 NW2d 402 (1985). Const 1963, art 4,  24, is to be construed reasonably, and not in a narrow or technical sense. Kuhn, 384 Mich at 387.

One purpose of Const 1963, art 4,  24, is to prevent combining diverse and unrelated subjects in one bill to secure the support of legislators who might oppose certain of them if acting on them separately. Commerce-Guardian Trust & Savings Bank v State, 228 Mich 316, 330; 200 NW 267 (1924), cert den 268 US 700; 45 S Ct 636; 69 L Ed 1164 (1925). State Mutual Rodded Fire Ins Co v Foster, 267 Mich 118, 120; 255 NW 174 (1934). Const 1963, art 4,  24, is violated only when the subjects of a bill are so diverse in nature as to have no necessary or logical connection. Builders Square v Dep't of Agriculture, 176 Mich App 494, 497; 440 NW2d 639, lv den 433 Mich 912 (1989). For example, a state department appropriations act, which requires the department to offer to sell specified state land, violates Const 1963, art 4,  24. Mandating the department to offer state land for sale to a particular purchaser is not germane, auxiliary, or even incidental to the object of making a fiscal year department appropriation, even where the department manages the state land in question. OAG, 1997-1998, No 6997, p 191 (October 23, 1998).

2000 PA 112 (Act 112), an amendatory act, must comply with Const 1963, art 4,  24. It must have a single object, and its provisions must be embraced in the object expressed in its title. The title to 2000 PA 112 states:
AN ACT to amend 1961 PA 236, entitled "An act to revise and consolidate the statutes relating to the organization and jurisdiction of the courts of this state; the powers and duties of such courts, and of the judges and other officers thereof; the forms and attributes of civil claims and actions; the time within which civil actions and proceedings may be brought in said courts; pleading, evidence, practice and procedure in civil and criminal actions and proceedings in said courts; to provide remedies and penalties for the violation of certain provisions of this act; and to repeal all acts and parts of acts inconsistent with or contravening any of the provisions of this act; and to repeal acts and parts of acts," by amending sections 916, 934 and 2950b (MCL 600.916, 600.934 and 600.2950b), section 934 as amended by 1980 PA 271 and section 2950b as amended by 1994 PA 403, and by adding section 2950c.

The general aim of Act 112 is to amend the RJA as it relates to the powers and duties of courts, judges and other officers, and to court practice and procedure. Consistent with that general aim, Act 112 amended sections 916, 934 and 2950b of the RJA and added new section 2950c. It amended section 916 to state that a domestic violence victim advocate appointed by the circuit court does not violate the unauthorized practice of law proscription when providing assistance to such victims. It amended section 2950b to extend immunity to domestic violence victim advocates appointed by the court. It added section 2950c to empower the circuit court to appoint domestic violence victim advocates and to delineate the general authority of these advocates. The amendment of sections 916 and 2950b and the addition of section 2950c of the RJA deal with the powers of courts and their agents and provide immunity for the court's representative in domestic violence cases. Thus, they further the general purpose of the RJA and are germane to its object.

Act 112 also amended section 934(2)(b) of the RJA to make members of the military service of the United States or its allies holding appropriate visas issued by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service eligible for admission to the state bar, assuming the applicants are otherwise qualified by good moral character and by knowledge to practice in Michigan courts. The title to Act 112 specifically refers to courts, judges, and other officers thereof. (Emphasis added.) Attorneys are officers of the court. Ayres v Hadaway, 303 Mich 589, 596-597; 6 NW2d 905 (1942). Accordingly, the Act 112 amendment of section 934(2)(b) furthers the object stated in the title to Act 112 and is germane to the general purpose of the RJA.

By addressing both residency requirements for admission to the practice of law and whether domestic violence victim advocates are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, Act 112 does not embrace more than one object. Both provisions relate to the overall statutory purpose of revising the powers and duties of courts, their officers, and their practices and procedures. By stating that a domestic violence victim advocate may provide in-court assistance to a victim, the act clarifies the practice and procedure in state courts. And likewise, by amending the residency requirements for admission to the practice of law, the act clarifies the practice and procedure in the courts by expanding who may gain admission to the state bar.

It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your first question, that 2000 PA 112, which defines the term "resident" for purposes of qualifying for admission to the state bar, does not violate Const 1963, art 4,  24, which requires that a law not embrace more than one object that must be expressed in its title.

Your second questions asks whether 2000 PA 112, which defines the term "resident" for purposes of qualifying for admission to the state bar, constitutes special legislation under Const 1963, art 4,  29, which requires approval by two-thirds of the members1 serving in each house of the Legislature.

Const 1963, art 4,  29, provides in pertinent part that:
The legislature shall pass no local or special act in any case where a general act can be made applicable, and whether a general act can be made applicable shall be a judicial question. No local or special act shall take effect until approved by two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house and by a majority of the electors voting thereon in the district affected.

The test for determining whether a statutory enactment constitutes special legislation was set forth in Rohan v Detroit Racing Ass'n, 314 Mich 326, 22 NW2d 433 (1946). A general law is one which operates uniformly on all persons in like circumstances. A special law is one which treats some persons differently than other similarly situated persons. Const 1963, art 4, 29, does not prohibit a statutory classification, even a narrowly drawn one, so long as there is a rational basis for that classification and everyone falling within the classification is treated in the same manner. Rohan, 314 Mich at 350. The propriety of a particular classification rests in the sound discretion of the Legislature and will be upheld if it is reasonable and not arbitrary. I.d. at 351.

Section 934(2)(b) of the RJA, as amended by Act 112, includes within the term "resident" all persons who are members of the military service of the United States or its allies and who hold appropriate visas issued by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. In designating persons in the military forces of this country or its allies to be eligible for the practice of law in Michigan courts, the Legislature applied the provisions of section 934(2)(b) of the RJA to all similarly situated persons in the military service. The statute does not make any individual differentiations within that classification. Thus, the enactment of Act 112 is a general act and not a special act. Courts will not review a statutory classification unless it is "palpably arbitrary." Straus v Elless Co, 245 Mich 558, 563; 222 NW 752 (1929).

It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your second question, that 2000 PA 112, which defines the term "resident" for purposes of qualifying for admission to the state bar, does not constitute special legislation under Const 1963, art 4,  29, which requires approval by two-thirds of the members serving in each house of the Legislature.




JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
Attorney General

1 2000 PA 112, which amended section 934 of the Revised Judicature Act of 1961, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 104 to 0. 2000 Journal of the House 788 (No. 37, April 27, 2000). It passed the Senate by a vote of 36 to 0. 2000 Journal of the Senate 678 (No. 41, May 4, 2000). Thus, even if a two-thirds majority vote of members serving in both houses of the Legislature were required, Act 112 received more than that level of support.