University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Esshaki v. Whitmer VR-MI-0075
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-10831 ( E.D. Mich. )
Additional Docket(s) 20-1336  [ 20-1336 ]  Federal Court of Appeals
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the State of Michigan from enforcing its in-person signature requirement in order for candidates to be placed on the ballot. The District Court granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, which the defendants appealed. The Sixth Circuit ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the State of Michigan from enforcing its in-person signature requirement in order for candidates to be placed on the ballot. The District Court granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, which the defendants appealed. The Sixth Circuit granted a stay of part of the preliminary injunction.


On March 31, 2020, a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in Michigan's 11th District filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiff sued the Governor, Secretary of State, and other state officials for an injunction barring the defendants from enforcing the April 21 deadline for candidates to submit a certain number of signatures in order to have their names placed on the ballot. The case was assigned to Judge Terrence G. Berg.

On April 14, 2020, a Michigan resident seeking a nomination to the 47th District Court Judge incumbent position filed a motion to intervene. On April 15, 2020, a Michigan resident who is an independent candidate for President filed a pro se motion to intervene as a plaintiff.

On April 20, 2020, Judge Berg granted the motion for the preliminary injunction. 2020 WL 1910154. He found that the State's decision to enforce both the stay-at-home order and the statutory ballot-access requirements violated both the First and Fourteenth Amendments and imposed a severe burden on the plaintiff's ability to seek elected office. As a part of the injunction, Judge Berg ordered that candidates who submitted fifty percent of the required signatures could appear on the ballot.

On April 21, 2020, the defendant appealed the preliminary injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The defendant requested that the district court stay enforcement of the preliminary injunction until the Sixth Circuit could rule on the appeal. On April 25, 2020, Judge Berg denied the defendants' motion, finding that the new evidence the defendants presented would not have changed the court's decision to reduce the signature requirement by fifty percent.

On May 5, 2020, the Sixth Circuit granted the motion in part to stay the preliminary injunction. Judges Alice M. Batchelder, Jane B. Stranch, and John K. Bush found that the injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ballot-access initiative was acceptable. However, they found that Judge Berg's remedy--reducing Michigan's signature requirement by 50%, counting electronic signatures, and extending the filing deadline--usurped Michigan's right to conduct its own elections and stayed that portion of the preliminary injunction. Judge Stranch also dissented in part, arguing that only the question of whether the district court could reduce Michigan's signature requirement by 50% was before the court. 2020 WL 2185553.

Shakira Hawkins, a judicial candidate, filed a motion to intervene on May 11 and a motion for TRO and preliminary injunction on May 12. She sought to prevent the defendants from enforcing their March 10 cutoff for forming a candidate committee, claiming that the Sixth Circuit had previously rejected such actions as unconstitutional. Her motion to intervene was granted on May 13.

In a response to the motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on May 15, the defendants requested that any injunctive relief should be limited to Ms. Hawkins alone.

On May 18, Lynn M. Maison, another judicial candidate, also filed a motion to intervene. As of May 18, three judicial candidates - Matt Savich, Deana Beard, and Shakira Hawkins – have successfully intervened in this action. Armand Velardo, a Macomb County Probate Court Judge candidate, also submitted an amicus brief on May 19 in support of the defendant, claiming that ruling for the plaintiff would allow circumvention of the law requiring timely disclosure, while penalizing others who had followed it.

On May 20, the District Court granted the preliminary injunction, noting that that the exclusion of candidates from the accommodations offered by the State based on the March 10th deadline was not narrowly tailored to accomplish a compelling state interest. They also noted that limiting relief to Ms. Hawkins alone would not be in the public interest as there would be other candidates in substantially the same position, and enjoined the defendants from enforcing its ballot-access provisions. Lynn M. Maison's motion to intervene was also granted. 2020 WL 2556754.

On July 27, Brenda K. Sanders, who seeks nomination as an Independent Candidate for U.S. Congress, sought to intervene. The court denied the motion on July 30, finding that Sanders seek to extend the filing deadline or decrease the number of requisite signatures for the November 3, 2020 general election ballot, which is a different remedy than the plaintiff's sought relief, which was for the August 4th primary. They further noted that allowing intervention would potentially delay the adjudication of the original parties’ claims.

The case is ongoing as of May 26.

Hope Brinn - 05/08/2020
Averyn Lee - 08/05/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Voting
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Candidate qualifications
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections
Governor of Michigan
Secretary of State of Michigan
Plaintiff Description A Michigan resident campaigning for Congress in Michigan's 11th Congressional District.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 03/31/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
2:20-cv-10831 (E.D. Mich.)
VR-MI-0075-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
20-1336 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
VR-MI-0075-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
VR-MI-0075-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2]
VR-MI-0075-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for TRO/Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 6 & 6-1 & 6-2]
VR-MI-0075-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Reply Brief in Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 10]
VR-MI-0075-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Motion to Intervene with Supporting Brief [ECF# 11 & 11-1]
VR-MI-0075-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervenor's Complaint for Emergency Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 18]
VR-MI-0075-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunctive [ECF# 23] (2020 WL 1910154) (E.D. Mich.)
VR-MI-0075-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Emergency Motion Under Rule 60(B) for Limited Relief from the Court's Order Granting a Preliminary Injunction, or Alternatively for a Stay Pending Emergency Appeal [ECF# 26 & 26-1 & 26-2]
VR-MI-0075-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Supplemental Brief in Support of Emergency Motion Under Rule 60(B) for Limited Relief from the Court's Order Granting a Preliminary Injunction, or Alternatively for a Stay Pending Emergency Appeal [ECF# 34 (& 34-1 to 34-2)]
VR-MI-0075-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Response to Defendants Emergency Motion Under Rule 60(B) for Limited Relief from the Court's Order Granting a Preliminary Injunction, or Alternatively for a Stay Pending Emergency Appeal [ECF# 36]
VR-MI-0075-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Rule 60(b) Motion and Request for Stay Pending Appeal [ECF# 37] (2020 WL 1979126) (E.D. Mich.)
VR-MI-0075-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 45] (2020 WL 2185553)
VR-MI-0075-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amicus Curiae Briefs by Daniel Finley, ACLU, Michigan Republican Party [ECF# 40, 42 (& 42-1 to 42-3), 43]
VR-MI-0075-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Response to Defendants Proposed Order [ECF# 44]
VR-MI-0075-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervening-Plaintiff Shakira L. Hawkins's Emergency Motion to Intervene [ECF# 47, 49, 50]
VR-MI-0075-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervening Plaintiff Hawkins's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 51]
VR-MI-0075-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Daniel Finley's Response to Motion for TRO - #51 [ECF# 54]
VR-MI-0075-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Response to Intervening Plaintiff Hawkins' Motion for TRO/Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 55]
VR-MI-0075-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervening Plaintiff Hawkin's Reply Brief in Support of Her Ex Parte Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 56]
VR-MI-0075-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervening-Plaintiff Lynn M. Maison's Emergency Motion to Intervene [ECF# 58]
VR-MI-0075-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amicus Brief in Support of the State of Michigan's Response to TRO #55 [ECF# 63]
VR-MI-0075-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion For Preliminary Injunction; Motion To Intervene; Motion To File Sur-Reply [ECF# 64] (2020 WL 2556754) (E.D. Mich.)
VR-MI-0075-0022.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Motion to Intervene with Supporting Brief [ECF# 65, 65-1, 65-2]
VR-MI-0075-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Intervene [ECF# 66] (E.D. Mich.)
VR-MI-0075-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Batchelder, Alice Moore (N.D. Ohio, Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0012
Berg, Terrence George (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0007 | VR-MI-0075-0010 | VR-MI-0075-0022 | VR-MI-0075-0024 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Bush, John Kenneth (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0012
Stafford, Elizabeth A. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-9000
Stranch, Jane Branstetter (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0012
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beard, Deana (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0014 | VR-MI-0075-9001
Esshaki, Eric Steven (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0001 | VR-MI-0075-0002 | VR-MI-0075-9000 | VR-MI-0075-9001
Rohl, Gregory J (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0001 | VR-MI-0075-0002 | VR-MI-0075-0004 | VR-MI-0075-0006 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Sahu, Saura James (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0015 | VR-MI-0075-0016 | VR-MI-0075-0019 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Grill, Erik A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0008 | VR-MI-0075-0018 | VR-MI-0075-9001
Meingast, Heather S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0003 | VR-MI-0075-0006 | VR-MI-0075-0008 | VR-MI-0075-0009 | VR-MI-0075-0018 | VR-MI-0075-9000 | VR-MI-0075-9001
Nessel, Dana M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0008
Other Lawyers Avers, Robert L (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0013 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Cafferty, Michael S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0005 | VR-MI-0075-9000 | VR-MI-0075-9001
Finley, Daniel P (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0013 | VR-MI-0075-0017 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Kordenbrock, Jean E (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0020 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0013 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Spies, Charles R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0013 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Steinberg, Michael J (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0013 | VR-MI-0075-9000
Velardo, Armand (Michigan) show/hide docs
VR-MI-0075-0021

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -