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 - http://www.ag.state.mi.us)
STATE OF MICHIGAN
BILL SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
CONST 1963, ART 5, § 10:
CONST 1963, ART 7, § 33:
CONST 1963, ART 11, § 7:
Removal or impeachment of public officers.
Any person who has sufficient personal knowledge of the facts and wrongdoing that forms the basis of the charges supporting removal and can verify the truth of the charges in an affidavit signed by that person, may petition for removal of a township officer under MCL 168.369.
While the Legislature’s authority to impeach “civil officers” under article 11, § 7 of the Constitution could be extended by statute to include elected officers of political subdivisions of this State under article 7, § 33, the Legislature has not presently provided for the removal of such officers via impeachment proceedings.
While article 11, § 7 of the Constitution requires the Senate to commence an impeachment trial immediately after adjournment of the current session, the Constitution does not require that the trial be concluded before the next session convenes. Const 1963, art 11, § 7. To accommodate an impeachment trial, the Legislature is free to adjust the date it adjourns session as permitted by article 4, § 13 of the Constitution. Const 1963, art 4, § 13.
Opinion No. 7307 December 19, 2018
The Honorable Steve Marino
Lansing, MI 48909
You have asked several questions regarding the removal or impeachment of public officers. While removal and impeachment have a similar purpose, removal is within the power of the governor and impeachment is within the power of the Legislature. Your questions have thus been separated into two categories: (1) the removal of state and local officers by the governor; and (2) the impeachment of “civil officers” by the Legislature.
As to the first category, removal of officers by the governor, your questions are largely procedural in nature. As to the second category, impeachment by the Legislature, your questions require analysis concerning: (a) the applicability of 1872 PA 62; (b) the scope of the impeachment power; and (c) the effect of the Legislature’s modern calendar on its impeachment power. The procedural requirements for the removal of officers by the governor will be addressed first, followed by the Legislature’s impeachment power and related questions.
I. Removal of state officers or locally elected officers by the governor
There are two constitutional provisions that address the removal of state or local officers by the governor.
A. State officers
Article 5, § 10 of the 1963 Constitution expressly provides that the governor may inquire into any public office, but authorizes removal only as to “elective or appointive” state officers:
The governor shall have power and it shall be his duty to inquire into the condition and administration of any public office and the acts of any public officer, elective or appointive. He may remove or suspend from office for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct in office, or for any other misfeasance or malfeasance therein, any elective or appointive state officer, except legislative or judicial, and shall report the reasons for such removal or suspension to the legislature. [Emphasis added.]
Under this section the governor may exercise his removal authority as to an elected or appointed state officer for the causes stated, with certain exceptions.
First, as noted in the text of § 10, the governor’s removal authority does not extend to legislative officers. Rather, members of the Legislature may be removed through expulsion proceedings conducted by the Legislature under article 4, § 16. Const 1963, art 4, § 16; MCL 168.177. Second, the governor’s removal authority does not generally extend to members of the judiciary, with one caveat. Article 6, § 25 provides that “[f]or reasonable cause, which is not sufficient ground for impeachment [under article 11, § 7], the governor shall remove any judge on a concurrent resolution of two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house of the legislature.” Const 1963, art 6, § 25. Thus, with respect to judicial officers the governor exercises a shared removal authority with the Legislature. And third, the governor’s removal authority does not extend to officers of Michigan’s military because removal of such officers is generally accomplished through a court martial as provided by statute. McDonald v Schnipke, 380 Mich 14, 19-22 (1968); Const 1963, art 3, § 4. See also, MCL 32.1001–32.1148.
Other than these limitations, the governor is generally authorized under article 5, § 10 to remove “elective or appointive state officers” at any time “for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct in office, or for any other misfeasance or malfeasance.”
B. Elected officers of political subdivisions
Article 7, § 33 authorizes the Legislature to provide for the removal of local elected officials: “Any elected officer of a political subdivision may be removed from office in the manner and for the causes provided by law.” (Emphasis added).
The phrase “in the manner and for the causes provided by law,” as used in article 7, § 33, “commits to the legislature the whole subject of removal.” Clay v Stuart, 74 Mich 411, 415 (1889); Fuller v Ellis, 98 Mich 96, 100 (1893). The Supreme Court in Buback v Romney, 380 Mich 209, 226 (1968), observed that in the Constitution, “[w]here ‘provided by law’ is used, it is intended that the legislature shall do the entire job of implementation” but “[w]here only the details were left to the legislature and not the overall planning, the Committee used the words ‘prescribed by law.’ ” In other words, because the Constitution provides that any elected officer of a political subdivision can be removed from office in the manner and for the causes provided by law, the entire method and procedure for removal of locally elected officers is the responsibility of the Legislature. Consistent with this responsibility, the Legislature has expressly implemented procedures for the removal by the governor of locally elected officers. See, e.g., MCL 168.207 (county prosecutor, sheriff, clerk, treasurer, register of deeds, drain commissioner, coroner); MCL 168.238 (county auditor); MCL 168.268 (county road commissioner); MCL 168.327 (city officers); MCL 168.369 (township officers); and MCL 168.383 (village officers).
Regarding the procedural requirements for removal of a local officer by the governor, the Legislature long ago enacted provisions providing for the attorney general or the local prosecutor and members of the judiciary to assist the governor in effectuating a removal. The last iteration of this statute is set forth in MCL 201.7, as amended by 1960 PA 145, which provides, in part:
The governor may direct the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney of the county in which such officer may be . . . to conduct an inquiry into the charges made, and the said attorney general or such prosecuting attorney shall thereupon give at least 8 days’ notice to the officer accused of the time and place at which he will proceed to the examination of witnesses in relation to such charges before some . . . judge of probate for the same county, or any judge of probate who may be appointed by the governor for such purpose, and he shall also, at the time of giving such notice, serve upon the officer accused a copy of such charges.
In 1968, the governor attempted to use this statute to remove a county sheriff, but the Court of Appeals held on rehearing that this statute’s provision for a hearing in front of a probate judge “is an unlawful imposition of executive functions on judicial officers in contravention of the provisions of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, art , § 2.” Buback, 380 Mich at 213. On appeal, the Supreme Court noted that article 6, § 1 of the Constitution provides that “[t]he Judicial power of the state [i]s vested exclusively in one court of justice,” which includes the probate court whereas “[t]he removal power [under article 7, § 33] was assigned by the legislature to the executive branch of State government.” Id. at 215, 217.
In an equally divided opinion, the Court (Adams, J., and Kavanagh, Souris, O’Hara, JJ., concurring) affirmed the order of the Court of Appeals that held MCL 201.7 unconstitutional because “[i]t imposes on a probate judge a function in the removal process which is a partial exercise of executive power,” Buback, 380 Mich at 227, and thus was violative of article 3, § 2, which provides that “[n]o person exercising powers of one branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another branch.” The Adams opinion added that its order “should [not] be construed that only the Governor, or the Lieutenant Governor in the absence of the Governor from the State, must conduct such hearing in person where authority to delegate within the executive branch of government is provided by statute[.]” Id. at 228.
Notably, the Buback decision has limited precedential effect. “The clear rule in Michigan is that a majority of the Court must agree on a ground for decision in order to make that binding precedent for future cases. If there is merely a majority for a particular result, then the parties to the case are bound by the judgment but the case is not authority beyond the immediate parties.” People v Anderson, 389 Mich 155, 170 (1973), overruled on other grounds, 470 Mich 602 (2004), citing Hileman v Indreica, 385 Mich 1, 7, n 1 (1971), In re Curzenski Estate, 384 Mich 334, 335, n 1 (1971), Breckon v Franklin Fuel Co, 383 Mich 251, 278-279 (1970), and Kalamazoo v Crawford, 154 Mich 58, 60 (1908). In Buback, there was no majority opinion; it was a four-to-four draw, which left the Court of Appeals’ unpublished order on rehearing in effect. Under these circumstances, Buback is not binding precedent, although it may be considered persuasive authority.
Given the uncertainty surrounding MCL 201.7 and the effect of the Buback decision, the better course of action is to consult the specific removal statutes for the appropriate procedures.
C. Procedure for removing elected township officers
Because your question relates to the removal of township officers, the specific statute is MCL 168.369. Section 369 provides six substantive grounds for removal:
The governor shall remove a township officer chosen by the electors of any township, when the governor is satisfied from the evidence submitted that the officer has been guilty of  official misconduct,  wilful neglect of duty,  extortion,  habitual drunkenness, or  has been convicted of being drunk, or  when it appears by a certified copy of the judgment of a court of record of this state that the officer, after the officer’s election or appointment, was convicted of a felony.
With respect to the procedural requirements for removal, section 369 provides that “[t]he governor shall not take action upon the charges made against the officer until  the charges are exhibited in writing, [and]  verified by the affidavit of the party making the charges that the party believes the charges to be true.” Id. (emphasis added). Generally, to constitute a valid affidavit, a document must be (1) a written or printed declaration or statement of facts, (2) made voluntarily, and (3) confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before a person having authority to administer such oath or affirmation. Holmes v Michigan Capital Med Ctr, 242 Mich App 703, 711, (2000), citing People v Sloan, 450 Mich 160, 177, n 8 (1995); Black’s Law Dictionary (7th ed.). Also, an affidavit should be based upon the “personal knowledge of the affiant.” Brooks v Reed, 93 Mich App 166, 173-174 (1979); 2A CJS, Affidavits, § 46 (“affidavits must be made on the affiant’s personal knowledge” since it is “an affiant’s personal knowledge, and not his or her beliefs, opinions, rumors, or speculation, that [is] the proper subject of any affidavit”).
The township officer subject to removal proceedings must then be afforded an opportunity to review and respond to the charges and supporting affidavit:
The officer shall not be removed for misconduct or neglect until . . .  a copy of the charges served on the officer, and  an opportunity given to the officer of being heard in his defense. The service of the charges upon the officer shall be made by handing to the officer a copy of the charges, together with the affidavits or exhibits which may be attached to the original petition if the officer can be found; if the officer cannot be found a copy shall be left at the last place of residence of the officer with a person of suitable age, if a person can be found. If a person cannot be found, a copy shall be posted in a conspicuous place upon the officer’s last known place of residence. [MCL 168.369 (emphasis added).]
Regarding these procedural requirements, Michigan courts have long held that removal “is a power to be carefully used, and . . . in exercising it the statutes must be strictly followed.” Metevier v Therrien, 80 Mich 187, 196 (1890); see also Groesbeck v Bairley, 209 Mich 120, 125 (1920). The power can only be exercised “upon charges which shall specify the particular acts or neglect relied on to make out the cause alleged.” OAG, 1933-1934, p 410 (December 11, 1933), quoting Dullam v Willson, 53 Mich 392 (1884) (internal quotation marks omitted). Furthermore, “the affidavit must allege specific charges and the date and place of their occurrence against each of the officers accused.” Id. at p 409; see also Metevier, 80 Mich at 190–191. Ultimately, “[t]he Governor has no right to order an investigation except upon specific charges,” and “those charges must consist of distinctly stated facts.” Metevier, 80 Mich at 190, 191. And Michigan courts have generally agreed that an officer has a right to a hearing. Dullam, 53 Mich at 407 (Champlin, J.) (officer “is entitled to a reasonable notice of the time and place when and where an opportunity will be given him for a hearing, and he has a right to produce proof upon such hearing.”); Dullam, 53 Mich at 414–415 (Campbell, J., concurring) (officer has right “to examine and cross-examine witnesses”). See also Attorney General v Jochim, 99 Mich 358 (1894) (discussing at length “due process” considerations in context of removal).
Turning to your specific questions, you ask who may petition for the removal of a township officer under MCL 168.369. Section 369 simply refers to “the party making the charges” and does not otherwise define or prescribe who may bring the charges. MCL 168.369. Thus, it appears that any person could seek removal of a township officer through the submission of written charges and an affidavit in support of the charges to the governor. The “party” could be a current township officer, a former township officer, some other public officer or employee, or simply a resident. But, as discussed above, Michigan courts have required that the charges be specific and based on distinctly stated facts that include both the particular acts or neglect relied on to bring the charges, and the dates and places of the occurrence of such acts. Metevier, 80 Mich at 190-191; Dullam, 53 Mich at 407, 413. And the charges must be “verified” in an “affidavit” by “the party making the charges that the party believes the charges to be true.” MCL 168.369.
It is my opinion, therefore, that any person who has sufficient personal knowledge of the facts and wrongdoing that forms the basis of the charges supporting removal and can verify the truth of the charges in an affidavit signed by that person, may petition for removal of a township officer under MCL 168.369.
II. Impeachment of civil officers by the Legislature
The Legislature’s power to impeach civil officers for corrupt conduct in office or for crimes or misdemeanors has been constitutionally provided for since 1835. See Const 1835, art 8, §§ 1-2. Answering your questions requires an interpretation of the impeachment power as currently provided for in article 11, § 7 of the Constitution, which states:
The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeaching civil officers for corrupt conduct in office or for crimes or misdemeanors, but a majority of the members elected thereto and serving therein shall be necessary to direct an impeachment. [Const 1963, art 11, § 7.]
Section 7 further provides that “[w]hen an impeachment is directed, the house of representatives shall elect three of its members to prosecute the impeachment.” Id. Also, “[e]very impeachment shall be tried by the senate immediately after the final adjournment of the legislature,” and “[n]o person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the senators elected and serving.” Id. Finally, “[j]udgment in case of conviction shall not extend further than removal from office, but the person convicted shall be liable to punishment according to law.” Id.
A. The relationship between article 11, § 7 and 1872 PA 62
The majority of your questions concern the Legislature’s impeachment power as provided for in article 11, § 7 of the Constitution. But your request also refers to 1872 PA 62, Chapter 6, Impeachments, MCL 6.1 et seq. Public Act 62 was enacted in 1872 to implement the impeachment provisions of Michigan’s Constitution of 1850, see Const 1850, art 12, §§ 1-4, in preparation for the impeachment of a state land commissioner, see 1 Official Record, Constitutional Convention 1961, p 838; Author Unknown, Special Session of the Legislature, Detroit Free Press (March 30, 1872), p 3. The constitutional provisions were later reenacted in the 1908 Constitution without significant change, see 1908 Const, art 9, §§ 1-4, and again in 1963, although in the current Constitution the provisions were consolidated into one section. Const 1963, art 11, § 7; 1 Official Record, Constitutional Convention 1961, p 838. The statutory provisions in Chapter 6 were recodified in 1948 and have never been amended or expressly repealed.
Article 3, § 7 of the 1963 Constitution provides that the “common law and the statute laws now in force, not repugnant to this constitution, shall remain in force until they expire by their own limitations, or are changed, amended or repealed.” (Emphasis added). Under this provision, Chapter 6 of the Michigan Compiled Laws relating to impeachments remains operative to the extent it does not conflict with article 7, § 11. See, e.g., OAG, 1963-1964, No. 4282, p 345 (April 1, 1964) (statute authorizing removal by governor remained in effect).
Chapter 6 provides procedural clarifications with respect to the impeachment process. First, the act requires that the senate try impeachment charges “at the state capital.” MCL 6.4. It further states that “[t]he senate sitting upon the trial of an impeachment shall have the same power to compel the attendance of its members, as when engaged in the ordinary business of legislation.” Id. The act also provides that the person against whom the articles of impeachment are filed is allowed the assistance of counsel and is entitled to receive “a copy of the articles of impeachment” and “a reasonable time to answer the same.” MCL 6.5 and 6.6. In addition, the act gives the Senate the “power to enforce obedience to its process by attachment and punishment as contempt of the process of a court of record.” MCL 6.10. Likewise, the act provides that the prosecuting members of the house of representatives, as well as the impeached civil officer “shall severally be entitled to process for compelling the attendance of persons, or the production of papers and records for the trial of impeachment.” MCL 6.13.
A review of Chapter 6 reveals that the Legislature did not add or delete any substantive rights or powers created by the Constitution. Rather, the statutes provide a more thorough procedural process for conducting impeachment trials under article 11, § 7. The drafters of the 1963 Constitution were aware of Public Act 62 and noted that “[t]hese provisions on the impeachment process seem to be generally adequate for their purpose,” and were “still in effect.” 1 Official Record, Constitutional Convention 1961, p 838. Because the statutory provisions of Public Act 62, as set forth in Chapter 6 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, do not conflict with article 11, § 7, the statutes remain in full force and effect.
B. The scope of article 11, § 7
Specifically, you ask whether the Legislature’s authority to impeach “civil officers” includes elected officers of political subdivisions. When interpreting a constitutional provision, the primary goal is to determine the initial meaning of the provision to the ratifiers, the people, at the time of ratification. Nat’l Pride At Work, Inc v Governor, 481 Mich 56, 67 (2008). “[T]he primary objective of constitutional interpretation, not dissimilar to any other exercise in judicial interpretation, is to faithfully give meaning to the intent of those who enacted the law.” Id. To effectuate this intent, the plain meaning of the terms used in the constitution must be applied. Toll Northville Ltd v Northville Twp, 480 Mich 6, 11 (2008).
Article 11, § 7 provides that “[t]he house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeaching civil officers.” (Emphasis added). But the phrase “civil officers,” which first appeared in the 1835 Constitution, is not defined or otherwise prescribed. Moreover, no court has interpreted the term “civil officers” as used in article 11, § 7, or its previous iterations. Examples of “civil officers” are included in the text itself, which refers to the impeachment of the “governor or lieutenant governor,” and “judicial officer[s].” Const 1963, art 11, § 7; MCL 168.66. And by statute, the Legislature has interpreted its impeachment power to extend to the offices of attorney general and secretary of state, MCL 168.83, and to members of the state board of education and the boards of state universities, MCL 168.293. The Legislature has also codified its impeachment power as to all judicial offices. See MCL 168.403 (supreme court justice); MCL 168.409k (court of appeals judge); MCL 168.423 (circuit court judges); MCL 168.443 (probate judges); MCL 168.467 (district court judges). In addition, the Legislature has provided that an emergency manager appointed under the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, 2012 PA 436, are “subject to impeachment and conviction by the legislature as if he or she were a civil officer under” article 11, § 7. MCL 141.1549 (emphasis added). But this language suggests the Legislature did not consider an emergency manager to be a “civil officer,” only that he or she should be subjected to impeachment like a civil officer.
Thus, from the Constitution and statutes the term “civil officers” includes the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, members of the state board of education and members of the boards of state universities, and all judges within Michigan’s “one court of justice.” Const 1963, art 6, § 1. These officers would generally be considered state officers. See, e.g., Schobert v Inter-County Drainage Bd of Tuscola, Sanilac, and Lapeer Counties, 342 Mich 270, 280-282 (1955) (discussing meaning of the term “state officer”).
But the term “civil officer” is frequently understood to include state and local officers. “The expression ‘civil officer’ means any officer who is not a military officer and includes all officers connected with the administration of the government except military officers.” 67 CJS, Officers and Public Employees, § 8, citing Landis v Futch, 122 Fla 837 (1936) and State v Clark, 21 Nev 333 (1892). This exclusion of military officers is consistent with Michigan’s Constitution as discussed above. Schnipke, 380 Mich at 19-22; Const 1963, art 3, § 4. The phrase civil officer “primarily, if not solely has reference to municipal and state officers.” 67 CJS, Officers and Public Employees, § 8, citing Advisory Opinion to Senate, 108 RI 551 (1971) (emphasis added). See, e.g., Attorney General v Common Council of City of Detroit, 112 Mich 145, 161-162 (1897) (discussing whether city mayor held “office under this state” for purposes of Const 1908, art 5, § 15).
Assuming for purposes of this opinion that the term “civil officers” in article 11, § 7 is broad enough to include local officers, the relationship between that section and article 7, § 33 must be reviewed. “[E]very provision in our constitution must be interpreted in the light of the document as a whole, and no provision should be construed to nullify or impair another. All constitutional provisions enjoy equal dignity, and a fundamental rule of construction requires construction of every clause or section of a constitution consistently with its words, to protect and guard its purposes.” Nat’l Pride At Work, Inc v Governor, 274 Mich App 147, 167 (2007). “If there is a conflict between general and specific provisions in a constitution, the more specific provision must control in a case relating to its subject matter[.]” Id. See also Schnipke, 380 Mich at 20 (holding that article 3, § 4 of Constitution prevailed over article 5, § 10 as the more specific constitutional provision with respect to the removal of military officers).
As discussed above, article 7, § 33 provides that “[a]ny elected officer of a political subdivision may be removed from office in the manner and for the causes provided by law.” Const 1963, art 7, § 33. This section of the Constitution is specific to locally elected officers and entrusts the Legislature with providing for their removal by statute. Construing article 11, § 7 and article 7, § 33 together, it is reasonable to conclude that the Legislature may provide by statute for the removal of locally elected officers (as “civil officers”) via impeachment proceedings under article 11, § 7. See, e.g., MCL 141.1549. But the Legislature presently has not done so. Rather, as discussed above, the Legislature has assigned by statute removal authority as to locally elected officers to the executive branch of government, specifically, to the governor.
It is my opinion, therefore, that while the Legislature’s authority to impeach “civil officers” under article 11, § 7 of the Constitution could be extended by statute to include elected officers of political subdivisions of this State under article 7, § 33, the Legislature has not presently provided for the removal of such officers via impeachment proceedings.
C. The effect of the Legislature’s modern calendar on its impeachment power
Finally, you ask whether the Legislature’s modern practice of adjourning session in December impacts the Legislature’s duty to comply with article 11, § 7.
Article 11, § 7 provides that “[e]very impeachment shall be tried by the senate immediately after the final adjournment of the legislature.” (Emphasis added). See also MCL 6.4. Article 4, which governs the legislative branch, provides both the date when the Legislature convenes and the date of its final adjournment for the session. Specifically, article 4, § 13 provides that:
The legislature shall meet at the seat of government on the second Wednesday in January of each year at twelve o’clock noon. Each regular session shall adjourn without day, on a day determined by concurrent resolution, at twelve o’clock noon. . . . [Emphasis added.]
Accordingly, the Constitution allows for the Legislature to decide when its final adjournment will occur or, when it adjourns “without day.”
While the Legislature may not have always done so, by choice it now generally adjourns in late December. See, e.g, Bishop v Montante, 395 Mich 672, 677 (1976) (noting Legislature’s “consistent late December sine die adjournments”). Because the Constitution requires the Legislature to begin the next session on the second Wednesday in January, the Legislature may be adjourned only for a few weeks before the new session must commence.
You question whether this short adjournment period provides sufficient time for the Senate to conduct an impeachment trial. Your question implies that the Senate must conclude an impeachment trial before a new session commences. While article 11, § 7 expressly provides that the trial must commence “immediately after adjournment,” it is silent as to when a trial must conclude. In other words, § 7 neither requires that an impeachment trial conclude before a new session commences nor prohibits a trial from continuing into a new session. MCL 6.7 provides that the Senate must appoint the time and place of the trial and may adjourn the impeachment trial from time to time, but likewise does not address when a trial should conclude:
When issue shall be joined in an impeachment, the senate, sitting as a court for the trial of the same shall appoint a time and place for the trial thereof. At the time and place so appointed, the senate, as a court, shall proceed to hear, try and determine the impeachment, and may from time to time, if necessary, adjourn the trial to any other time or place at the state capital.
While the requirement that the trial commence “immediately after adjournment” suggests the framers contemplated a trial would commence and conclude during the adjournment, the Constitution does not so require. Moreover, as you note, “rushing” an impeachment trial may give rise to due process concerns. Although no Michigan court has so held, presumably the Legislature would apply due process considerations in an impeachment trial, as the courts have held that due process considerations apply in removal proceedings. And affording due process in the removal context has been interpreted to require “having specific charges of misconduct communicated to the officer, and established by proof, with a full opportunity to the respondent to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and be heard on the facts and the law.” Dullam, 53 Mich at 414–415 (Campbell, J., concurring). In the absence of a constitutional command or statutory provision, it cannot be concluded that an impeachment trial must be completed during a legislative adjournment and may not carry over into the next session. See, e.g., In re request for Advisory Opinion of 2011 PA 38, 490 Mich 295, 312 (2011) (declining to “read into” the Constitution a limitation on Legislature’s ability to tax).
Finally, it must be noted that the Constitution mandates that the Senate conduct an impeachment trial if the House directs an impeachment, regardless of the so-called “modern legislative calendar.” Neither the House nor the Senate is free to disregard the Constitution. See, e.g., Common Council of City of Detroit v Engel, 202 Mich 536, 543 (1918) (“It cannot in reason be otherwise than that all powers of the Legislature . . . are under and by virtue of the Constitution subject to general constitutional mandates[.]”). If the Legislature is concerned that an impeachment trial, an extremely rare occurrence, cannot be accommodated during the relatively short adjournment periods the Legislature now provides for itself, the Legislature may resolve to adjourn earlier under article 4, § 13.
It is my opinion, therefore, that while article 11, § 7 of the Constitution requires the Senate to commence an impeachment trial immediately after adjournment of the current session, the Constitution does not require that the trial be concluded before the next session convenes. To accommodate an impeachment trial, the Legislature is free to adjust the date it adjourns session as permitted by article 4, § 13 of the Constitution.
 Although not referred to in your request, there is another mechanism available for removing or ousting an elected official – the power of “recall,” which applies to “all elective officers except judges” as set forth in article 2, § 8 of the Constitution. Const 1963, art 2, § 8.
 There are numerous statutes codifying the governor’s removal authority as to various officers including, but not limited to: MCL 24.265 (removal of environmental rules committee member);
MCL 32.1067 (removal of military appeals tribunal); MCL 35.1243 (removal of war centennial commission member); MCL 168.83 (removal of attorney general and secretary of state); MCL 168.293 (removal of state board of education members and boards of state universities); MCL 209.102 (removal of state tax commission members); MCL 285.317 (removal of farm produce authority board member); MCL 286.943 (removal of rural development board member); MCL 324.1905 (removal of Natural Resources Trust Fund board members); MCL 324.43532b (removal of wildlife council member); MCL 333.16121 (removal of occupational board and task force members); MCL 339.303 (removal of occupational code board member); MCL 339.5305 (removal of skilled trade board member); and MCL 791.201 (removal of corrections commission member).
 The governor, however, is authorized to remove a member of the “military appeals tribunal,” which tribunal reviews decisions rendered in a court-martial. MCL 32.1067.
 In your request, you suggest that 1872 PA 62, MCL 6.1 et seq., applies to removal proceedings under article 7, § 33. But, as explained later in this opinion, Chapter 6 of the Michigan Compiled Laws further implements the Legislature’s impeachment power under article 11 § 7.
 This last statement suggests that the governor must personally preside over a removal hearing unless a statute provides for a delegation. In addition to Buback’s limited effect, the statement appears to be obiter dictum and thus not binding. See Pew v Michigan State Univ, 307 Mich App 328, 334 (2014) (“[D]ictum does not constitute binding authority. Dictum is a judicial comment that is not necessary to the decision in the case.”) (footnotes omitted).
 While there are differences between various removal statutes, compare, for example MCL 168.207 (providing that “[t]he governor may remove” certain county officers) with MCL 168.369 (providing that “[t]he governor shall remove” certain township officers) (emphasis added), the procedural requirements and substantive grounds for removal are largely similar.
 Research disclosed only two instances in which a civil officer was impeached. In 1872, a commissioner of the state land office was impeached, but was acquitted on trial. 1 Official Record, Constitutional Convention 1961, p 838. Additionally, in 1943, a probate judge was impeached by the House of Representatives, convicted in a trial by the Senate, and ultimately removed from office. Id.
 Black’s Law Dictionary provides that “[t]he term adjournment sine die (or adjournment without day) usually refers to the close of a session of several meetings: (a) where the adjournment dissolves the assembly — as in a series of mass meetings or in an annual or biennial convention for which the delegates are separately chosen for each convention; or (b) where, unless called into special session, the body will not be convened again until a time prescribed by the bylaws or constitution — as in the case of a session of a legislature.” ADJOURNMENT, Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).
 See, e.g., 2015 House Concurrent Resolution No. 19 (providing that “when the Legislature adjourns on Friday, December 18, 2015, it stands adjourned without day”); 2016 Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 33 (providing that “when the Legislature adjourns on Wednesday, December 28, 2016, it stands adjourned without day”); 2017 House Concurrent Resolution No. 17 (providing that “when the Legislature adjourns on Thursday, December 28, 2017, it stands adjourned without day”).