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Snyder signs bill to allow for courtroom expert testimony by video

Thursday, March 29, 2012

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation allowing expert witnesses to testify by video in trial court cases.

In his recent Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety, the governor emphasized his support for expanding video technology in courts.

House Bill 4647, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Heise, allows trial courts to permit expert witnesses to testify by video if all parties agree. This authorization takes advantage of new technologies to create better efficiency in court proceedings. It also cuts down on the sometimes exorbitant costs to individuals and taxpayers of bringing in nonlocal or out-of-state experts.

"Expert witnesses are a key component of many trials and this legislation makes it more convenient and less expensive to hear from the best witnesses available," Snyder said. "I appreciate the Legislature's support in addressing public safety concerns and providing for an efficient, modernized justice system."

Video testimony will be allowed in both civil and criminal cases. The bill now is Public Act 68.

The governor also signed:

H.B. 4691, also sponsored by Heise, which exempts nursing mothers from jury duty with verification from a physician, lactation consultant or certified nurse midwife. Breastfeeding benefits the health of both mother and child, and the jury selection and trial process are not conducive to providing this care for an infant. Additionally, the court would need to provide regular breaks and access to facilities for nursing women if they were required to serve. The bill now is P.A. 69.

H.B. 5332, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Haveman, which allows businesses that are part of a unitary business group - which typically are required to file as a single unit - to file a separate Michigan Business Tax return to claim up to $75 million in Michigan Economic Growth Authority battery credits if they meet certain job-creation requirements. Last year, the Legislature replaced the job-killing Michigan Business Tax with a flat, 6-percent Corporate Income Tax. However, businesses still can file under the MBT to claim certain credits like the MEGA battery credits. The bill now is P.A. 70.

Senate Bill 992, sponsored by state Sen. Arlan Meekhof, which encourages continued business investment in Michigan by ensuring clarity in certain types of commercial loans. Nonrecourse loans - those in which borrowers' personal assets are not at risk - are prohibited under the bill from including any language that alters that agreement to put borrowers' personal assets at risk. The bill now is P.A. 67.

Visit www.legislature.mi.gov for more information on the bills.

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