courts

Stateside
4:12 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Go to court in your pajamas with this new technology

Credit The Daily Record / Creative Commons

How can you resolve a minor civil infraction or a traffic ticket without stepping foot in a courtroom? Use the Online Court Project.

The first-of-its-kind technology was designed by J.J. Prescott and his team to help people who have been charged with minor offenses interact with courts online, without needing to hire an attorney.

J. J. Prescott is a law professor at the University of Michigan and co-director of the Empirical Legal Studies Center.

Prescott says the law is very complicated, and people who go to court to solve minor infractions often don’t know what is actually happening.

“If they have questions or if they think something is not quite right with how the ticket or the fine has been issued, they really don’t know what to do,” Prescott says.

Calling an attorney can be very expensive. Prescott argues that people end up going to the courthouse, spending a lot of time there with questions, and they leave still confused and caring less about how the issue was resolved.

He says the technology allows people to have a guided interaction with decision makers.

“Essentially, this allows litigants to raise questions, to ask for a change in their current status, and to do that in a way that’s unlike just calling into the court,” Prescott says.

The project has been operating as a pilot program in Washtenaw County. Prescott says he has received positive responses to the technology.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Law
8:22 pm
Sun June 22, 2014

Judge orders break in sailor's child custody case

ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan judge has called a time-out in a child custody dispute involving a sailor aboard a U.S. submarine.

Lenawee County Judge Margaret Noe released an order Sunday, delaying some matters until at least Oct. 22.

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Stateside
4:45 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

The future of mental health courts in Michigan

A gavel.
Brian Turner Flickr

The Michigan state House approved a package of bills that could lead to more mental health courts around the state. Now the omnibus bill is being sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But how exactly do these courts work? Which defendants would be allowed to be a part of a mental health court — and which would not?

One champion of the mental health courts is Judge Milton Mack, the chief probate judge in Wayne County. He explains what’s driven him to take on this cause, and what sort of human toll he’s seen from the bench.

Listen to the full interview above.

Law
8:37 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court funds two new courts

Credit The Daily Record / Creative Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court has picked five projects to receive money for court innovations.

One project is a human trafficking court in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  It will determine whether offenders in prostitution cases are victims of human trafficking. If so, the court will offer services, not jail time.

Another involves using social media and technology to improve court communication in various counties.

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Law
12:46 pm
Sat September 21, 2013

West Michigan federal judge knocks mandatory minimum sentences

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A federal judge in Grand Rapids is speaking on behalf of judges across the country as Congress considers whether to ease up on mandatory minimum sentences.

Robert Holmes Bell is chairman of the criminal law committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference. In a letter this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bell says mandatory minimum sentences in federal court waste tax dollars and produce "unjust results."

Law
12:52 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Abuelazam gets life without parole, other Flint stabbing cases remain

Mug shot of Elias Abuelazam
Arlington, Virginia Police Department

A prosecutor handling charges from a 2010 stabbing spree in the Flint area says he'll talk to victims and relatives about offering plea deals to close the remaining cases.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton says he needs to balance their feelings with the costs of taking eight more cases to trial. Elias Abuelazam was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday, a month after being convicted in the first murder trial.

Abuelazam still faces two murder trials and six attempted murder trials. He's also charged with attempted murder in Toledo, Ohio.

It's not known if the 35-year-old Abuelazam is even interested in settling the remaining cases. The next court hearing won't occur until near Labor Day.

Politics
4:42 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Judges dismiss challenge to Michigan House redistricting

New congressional district maps close up of southeast Michigan.
Michigan House of Representatives

DETROIT (AP) - A coalition of labor and civil rights groups appears to have lost a lawsuit challenging new boundaries for Detroit seats in the Michigan House.

A three-judge panel said a majority was in favor of ending the case, and a written opinion will follow. The judges heard arguments Friday on the state of Michigan's request to dismiss the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the new map is illegal because it dilutes the political representation of minorities and forces some black incumbents to run against each other in Detroit this year. The boundaries were approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican.

John Bursch of the attorney general's office defended the map, noting the 10 House seats in Detroit have a majority black population.

Courts
5:37 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Inkster judge placed on paid suspension, script to be flipped

Even though she's been on paid administrative leave since last April (and now she's on a paid suspension), Judge Sylvia James is still listed at the Judge in Michigan's 22nd District Court.
screen grab from City of Inkster website

Last April, Inskster District Court Judge Sylvia James was placed on administrative leave with pay after city officials leveled charges of financial mismanagement against her.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Alvarez reported, James "could not explain why court funds were used to pay for travel, clothing, and other expenses."

Another judge took her place, and the State Supreme Court started looking into the charges.

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Law
4:30 pm
Wed January 26, 2011

State Bar Association says Michigan needs court reform

The 58th District Court in Ottawa County. The State Bar says the courts in Michigan need reform.
Rich Evenhouse Flickr

The Michigan State Bar wants to change the way the state's courts work.

A task force of judges and lawyers are recommending changes they say will save the state money.

The Judicial Crossroads Task Force suggests:

  • consolidating trial courts
  • giving business cases higher priority
  • and letting existing judges retire without replacing them

Michigan has 246 separate courts and 586 judges.

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Michigan Supreme Court
9:10 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

Chief Justice Young calls for cuts in the courts

Newly appointed Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young.
justicebobyoung.com

Newly appointed Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young is calling for budget cuts in Michigan's judiciary, reports Rick Pluta of the Michigan Public Radio Network.

Pluta reports that Chief Justice Young "says he will call for combining courts and cutting judges in areas where there are fewer people and fewer cases." Young said:

"The Legislature will either do something rational to reduce the size and cost of the judiciary, or it will do something irrational. I think it is most rational to reduce redundancy rather than to cut into the judiciary in ways that will disable it from fulfilling its constitutional duties."

Pluta says "a 2009 report by the State Court Administrator says the state could save $2 million by eliminating more than a dozen judgeships in metro Detroit and northern Michigan."

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Opinion
1:21 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Commentary: Fixing Our Courts

Marilyn Kelly, who is now Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, has given her life to Michigan’s legal system.

Now in her last term on the bench, she doesn’t like a lot of what she has been seeing lately. Besides deciding cases, Michigan’s Supreme Court is charged with overseeing all the other courts.

And she fears that the public is losing respect for the judiciary, in part because of the way judges are chosen. Especially higher-level judges, those who sit on appellate and supreme courts.

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Courts
11:42 am
Thu September 2, 2010

Juror posts "guilty" on Facebook before trial ends

The judge who caught the juror says it's a problem that is likely to get worse.
Alton Creative Commons

You're supposed to keep an open mind when sitting as a juror in a trial. If you can't, it's definitely not a good idea to broadcast your prejudices about a case on the web.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Hadley Jons, while sitting on a jury in a resisting arrest case "wrote on Facebook that it was 'gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY.'"

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Breaking
10:39 am
Thu August 26, 2010

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Weaver resigns

Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver
justiceweaver.com

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth "Betty" Weaver is resigning. Weaver is a Republican, but she was expected to run for re-election this November as an independent. Justice Weaver openly feuded with some of her Republic colleagues on the court.

 

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