Washtenaw Board Sued Over Stand Your Ground

Ypsilanti attorney David Raaflaub has filed a lawsuit against the Washtenaw County board of commissioners over a resolution that the board passed on Oct. 16, 2013. The resolution, which was approved on a 5-4 vote, urged state legislators to repeal Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law. [.pdf of board resolution] [.pdf of Raaflaub complaint]

The complaint, filed on Oct. 21 in the 22nd Circuit Court of Washtenaw County, asks the court to determine two issues: (1) what authority the board has that enables it to “draw conclusions of law,” and (2) what authority the board has to represent the county in seeking changes to state law.

Curtis Hedger, the county’s corporation counsel, stated in an Oct. 24 email to The Chronicle that the county is in the process of retaining counsel who will respond to the lawsuit on the board’s behalf.

The five commissioners who voted in favor of the resolution were Felicia Brabec (D-District 4), Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), Andy LaBarre (D-District 7), Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) and Conan Smith (D-District 9). Voting against it were Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1), Dan Smith (R-District 2), Alicia Ping (R-District 3), and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5).

Reached via email on Oct. 24, Dan Smith indicated that he would bring forward a resolution to rescind the board’s previous action, if it’s determined that the county will incur additional costs – such as fees for outside legal counsel – to defend the lawsuit.

Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law – Public Act 309, the Michigan Self Defense Act – was enacted in 2006. In early September, county board chair Yousef Rabhi had announced his intent to bring forward a resolution urging the state legislature to repeal the law, similar to resolutions passed by the Ann Arbor city council on Aug. 8, 2013 and by the Ypsilanti city council on Aug. 20, 2013. The resolution had originally appeared on the county board’s Sept. 18 agenda, but was pulled from the agenda before the meeting when it became uncertain that it would win sufficient support to pass, given the anticipated absence of some commissioners.

Supporters of the law spoke at the Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 county board meetings, and showed up again on Oct. 16. Many of the speakers were from outside of Washtenaw County, and wore sidearms to the meeting. Some were affiliated with Michigan Open Carry Inc., an advocacy group based in Lansing that has been urging people to attend the Washtenaw County board meetings to protest the proposed resolution. The resolution also attracted the attention of the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action issued an alert on Oct. 11 calling the resolution “misguided” and providing contact information for the nine county commissioners.

The extensive public commentary on Oct. 16 included more than three dozen speakers on both sides of the issue, but dominated by supporters of the Stand Your Ground law. The county had extra security on hand at the meeting.

Raaflaub is a member of the Washtenaw County Republican executive committee. He was the Republican candidate for county commissioner in District 6 in the November 2012 election, running against incumbent Democrat Ronnie Peterson, who won that election.


  1. By Alan Goldsmith
    October 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm | permalink

    Kudos to the five board members for passing this resolution. Raaflaub is a failed political hack with an eye on his next campaign.

  2. By Mike
    October 25, 2013 at 3:40 am | permalink

    A County board of Commissioners for ANY county does not have the right or authority to lobby for legislation. That is NOT their function. Their function is to run their OWN county, not the state. If people want legislation enacted or repealed they need to go to their elected State Officials.

  3. By Ray
    October 25, 2013 at 9:41 am | permalink

    Kudos? Really? Considering there were two rapes, two assaults that resulted in a trip to the hospital and a murder, all in the span of two days around and on the campus of Eastern Michigan University, this is the best elected officials can come up with. The victims were truly the victims of false security promised by political hacks that are blind to reality and bend on a racial agenda that does not exist when it comes to self defense. Their list of “statistics” fall short of the truth regarding self defense, as recent studies released by the DOJ, CDC, and FBI, all backed by Obama’s executive orders, debunk the commissioners claims listed in their letter to the Govenor.

  4. By Alan Goldsmith
    October 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm | permalink

    So I’m guessing Ray and Mike are afraid to give their real names because President Obama is reading the Chronicle today and ready to send in Federal Marshalls to take away their firearms?

  5. By Ray
    October 25, 2013 at 7:21 pm | permalink

    Alan, your comment does nothing to contribute in keeping people alive. Stick to the story.

  6. By Peter Zetlin
    October 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm | permalink

    Well, guns actually do kill people.


    September 19, 2013 — Ionia road rage shootout

    Initial investigation shows the Ionia men, ages 43 and 56, pulled into the car wash parking lot after a road rage incident. They exited their vehicles and eventually drew handguns and exchanged fire, police said. It wasn’t clear what the two men were arguing about.

    Life EMS transported the men to Sparrow Ionia Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

    Police said both men, whose identities have not been released, held permits to carry concealed weapons.

  7. October 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm | permalink

    This suit should be summarily (and cheaply) dismissed. Quo warranto is used to determine by what right (or warrant) a person holds office, and for certain matters involving the loss of rights of a corporation. See generally Michigan Court Rule 3.306. It has nothing to do with lobbying efforts. Counties and municipalities (including Ann Arbor City) routinely lobby the Legislature.

    Also, a citizen may not start a quo warranto suit just by filing it. MCR 3.306(B)(2) says that except for suits by the attorney general, suits for quo warranto “may be brought by the prosecuting attorney of the proper county, without leave of court, or by a citizen of the county by special leave of court.” So Raaflaub has to ask the Circuit Court “mother, may I?” and get permission to file the suit before filing it. He hasn’t gotten permission.

  8. By Ray
    October 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm | permalink

    “Well, guns actually do kill people”
    After a person pulls the trigger or do the guns just take it upon themselves to kill a person? Enlighten me. /s

  9. By RLEmery
    October 27, 2013 at 5:44 am | permalink

    So a group of politicians, wish to infringe upon the inherent natural laws of self-defense, outside of their authority, and you are complaining about that David Cahill, LOL!

    Progressives, no problems breaking the rules or the law when they do it, what a hypocrite!

  10. October 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm | permalink

    Just as a technical point, although the the filing includes Raaflaub’s P-number, it also indicates that the filing is “pro se” – that is, he’s representing himself. Given that he’s currently suspended by the state bar from the practice of law, I think that’s the only option (i.e., he could not represent some other party while he’s suspended).