Michael D. Hanchett is a Co-leader of Plunkett Cooney's Governmental Law Practice Group and a member of the Labor & Employment Law Practice Group.

Mr. Hanchett represents municipalities in both state and federal courts in government liability matters. He has particular expertise in police liability issues, such as search and seizure, use of force, pursuits and corrections law. Mr. Hanchett also has experience representing municipalities in the area of employment law, including discrimination, retaliation and civil rights claims brought under state and federal law. Additionally, he has extensive experience providing general counsel services to municipalities.

In addition to his governmental law and employment litigation practice, Mr. Hanchett has handled insurance coverage matters involving environmental contamination, property damage, arson, construction defect and automobile liability. He also has experience in alleged design defect and personal injury litigation within the construction industry.

A member of numerous professional organizations, Mr. Hanchett routinely speaks and writes about his areas of expertise, and he frequently provides training to police departments on a range of issues such as qualified immunity, search and seizures, and the use of body cameras. Mr. Hanchett also has the distinctions of being identified by Best Lawyers in America as "One to Watch" in the area of municipal law since 2021 and by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a 2024 "Up & Coming" Lawyer.

Representative Client Work

  • Obtained summary judgment in federal court on behalf of a Michigan county and a prosecuting attorney in a $16 million wrongful conviction claim brought by the plaintiff who was incarcerated for 26 years
  • Obtained summary judgment in federal court for officer involved in excessive force case based on qualified immunity
  • Successfully defended municipality in federal court in a police pursuant cases where individual was struck and killed by fleeing suspect
  • Successfully defended municipality in federal court in jail liability case involving the death of an inmate
  • Successfully defended municipality and jail officer in federal court in jail liability cases involving claims of improper strip searches at the jail
  • Obtained summary judgment in federal court for officers on alleged excessive force and illegal search and seizure claims based on qualified immunity where the plaintiff sought over $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages
  • Successfully represented county jail officers in federal court regarding excessive force claims brought by inmate with the court granting summary judgment on all charges
  • Substantial experience working with municipal boards and commissions, defending their actions and designing rules of procedure to guide their activities 
  • Successfully represented insurer in additional insured coverage action arising out of a slip and fall at shopping complex that allegedly resulted in a significant injury to plaintiff
  • Successfully represented insurer on a property insurance claim involving suspected arson
  • Successfully represented insurer in litigation involving environmental contamination claims

Professional Affiliations

  • Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Detroit Young Professionals
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • State Bar of Michigan (Government Law and Labor and Employment sections)
  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association - Eastern District of Michigan (Civil Rights Section, Co-chair; Newsletter Committee, Member)
  • DRI (Construction Law, Insurance Law and Young Lawyers committees)
  • Lawyers for Civil Justice (Fellows Program, 2024)

Community Involvement

  • City of Berkley, Michigan, Zoning Board of Appeals (2019-2021)

Publications and Lectures

  • "From Hook Up to Lock Up - Law Enforcement Liability Issues," Presenter, 24th Annual Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys/State Bar of Michigan Governmental Law Section Summer Educational Conference, June 21, 2024
  • "Nuts & Bolts" of Section 1983 and Qualified Immunity: (Nearly) Everything There is to Know, Panelist, Federal Bar Association Chapter for the Eastern District of Michigan and the FBA Civil Rights Section, Theodore Levin Courthouse, April 5, 2024
  • "Legal Update - Search & Seizure 2023" Seminar, Presenter, LEAF and Michigan Municipal League Presentation, Romulus Senior Center, May 18, 2023
  • Macomb Community College Police and Fire Leadership Program, Speaker, March 2020
  • "Practical Law" television show discussing issues facing police departments with body cameras, Featured Speaker, April 2018
  • "The Law Enforcement Body-Worn Camera Privacy Act: the Implications for Police Departments and How They Can Stay Ahead of the Curve," Author, Oakland County Bar Association Laches magazine, January 2018


  • Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity



  • University of Toledo College of Law, J.D., 2016
  • Ferris State University, B.S., 2013


  • Michigan, 2016
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 2016
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 2021
  • Admitted pro hac vice in Minnesota


Honors & Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recognition, 2021-2022 

  • "Up & Coming Lawyer" Award, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2024