Policy Workshop: Advancing Economic Justice Through Michigan Court Reform
In this course, students will work to promote economic and racial justice and prevent systemic abuse of consumers by effecting change in Michigan's consumer debt collections litigation process.
2020 has exposed the failures of many of our society's most critical systems. Unfortunately, civil courts are among the entities that are quietly contributing to economic crisis at the household level. Each year, more than 10 million Americans are sued in civil court for debt collections, and Black people are disproportionately targeted by these lawsuits. Multiple breakdowns in the debt collections litigation process have resulted in 70% of debt collections cases ending in default judgment. Defendants in these cases often experience onerous wage garnishments and bank account seizures, doing long-term damage to these households' financial security. With income loss from COVID-19 leaving stacks of bills unpaid, even more debt collections litigation looms on the horizon.
In the first part of the course, students will learn about the problems in the debt collections litigation system from national experts, attorneys, judges, and individual consumers. In the second part of the course, students will conduct research to determine what solutions could make the biggest improvements in Michigan and write policy memos proposing implementation of those solutions through legislation or court rule changes. In the final phase of the course, students will seek to meet with lawmakers, court officials, and/or other stakeholders to advocate for the policy changes that can help drive Michigan courts toward the fulfillment of the ideals that they strive to uphold.
Students will be graded on their engagement with the material in and outside of class, their work on a group policy memo, and their presentations to policy makers and/or stakeholders proposing their policy change recommendations.
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