law

Law
10:57 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Detroit suburb to sign agreement on police changes

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. – Officials in a Detroit suburb where five police officers were suspended for their roles in videos in which a black man is seen singing or chanting plan to sign an agreement about department changes.

A statement on behalf of Grosse Pointe Park says the city plans to sign an agreement Wednesday partnering with U.S. Justice Department, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and local groups to "increase policing reforms."

The city says the Justice Department and the Department of Civil Rights will help train officers in the latest strategies in community policing. The city also is signing a resolution reaffirming a commitment to diversity as well as human and civil rights.

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Law
4:15 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Strong interest in new peacemaking court in Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County Judge Timothy Connors and Chief Judge Michael Petoskey of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians, confer at Friday's peacemaking education session.
Credit Virginia Gordan

There appears to be a lot of interest in a new kind of court in Washtenaw County.

More than 80 lawyers, mediators, and probation officers packed Judge Timothy Connors' courtroom on Friday.

They were there for a six-hour education session on the Native American philosophy that guides the new peacemaking court. 

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Law
3:27 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

New Michigan law exempts process servers from trespassing laws

Credit Morguefile

In Michigan, people can no longer use trespassing laws to avoid being served court papers at their doors.

At the end of 2013, a new law took effect to exempt process servers from trespassing laws.

State Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) introduced the legislation. He said the law aims to increase safety for process servers.

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Law
3:16 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

ACLU asks for wider federal probe of Saginaw's police department

A screenshot from the cell phone video which shows Milton Hall being shot and killed by Saginaw Police officers.
CNN

Civil libertarians are calling on the U.S. Justice Department to expand a probe into the Saginaw Police Department.

The Justice Department has been examining the case of Milton Hall. He's a mentally ill homeless man who was gunned down by six Saginaw police officers as he threatened them with a knife.

The case has raised questions about how the department deals with African-Americans.

Mark Fancher is with the American Civil Liberties Union. He says his office has received several allegations that Saginaw police officers operate in a racially biased manner.

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Law
5:16 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Michigan man convicted on 'junk science' is now free

Victor Caminata hugs a member of his defense team.
Chris Lamphere Cadillac News

He spent four years in prison after he was convicted in 2009 on an arson charge. But now he is free after a team of lawyers from the University of Michigan's Innocence Clinic proved he was wrongfully convicted.

The Innocence Clinic team said Caminata was convicted on "junk science."

The Clinic has more on Caminata's conviction:

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Law
10:26 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Governor Snyder signs major overhaul of public defense in Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder joins bill sponsors Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) (right) and Sen. Bruce Caswell (R-Hillsdale) (left) at Monday’s indigent defense bill signing.
Jake Neher

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation Monday that will make sweeping changes to the state’s public defense system.

Snyder says the new law is a big step toward making sure fewer indigent criminal defendants are wrongfully convicted. It will create a commission to set statewide standards for public defense. The group will also monitor counties to make sure each one is meeting those standards.

The governor says there’s still a lot of work to do before the state can expect to see improvements. He said, “It will take some time to implement this. But this is something we will be very diligent about the follow-through to make sure it happens right.”

The bills passed the state House and Senate last month with bi-partisan support.

Law
10:38 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Woman, 77, gets probation in church embezzlement

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) - A 77-year-old woman has been sentenced to five years of probation for taking money from a Detroit-area church and has been ordered to repay $50,000.

Helen Gvozdich was sentenced Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, avoiding the possibility of up to two years behind bars. She earlier pleaded guilty to embezzlement in an agreement with prosecutors. Court records say a judge also ordered her to perform community service.

Her lawyer has said she devoted decades to serving the church and was the victim of an unfortunate series of events.

Authorities originally said that in 2008-2009 Gvozdich stole about $79,000 from St. Stevan Decanski Serbian Orthodox Church in Warren. Prosecutors say church officials agreed to accept $50,000 repayment if she pleaded guilty.

Law
12:10 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Court: No review of sentences for current juvenile lifers

Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation
Kevin Rosseel morguefile

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder does not apply retroactively.

The case involved a resentencing request for Raymond Carp. In 2006, Carp was convicted of first-degree murder as a 16-year old.

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Law
12:47 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Charges filed against Michigan medical marijuana centers

Proposed changes to the medical marijuana law in Michigan could add regulations to how users can grow and store the plant.
user elioja Flickr

Michigan voters passed a medical marijuana law in 2008, but state prosecutors say its being abused.

The Times Herald of Port Huron reports on charges being leveled against a marijuana dispensary group:

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges Wednesday against six people connected to an investigation of the Blue Water Compassion Centers in St. Clair, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.

Authorities raided the centers, which distributed information about medical marijuana and other products, on Dec. 9, 2011 in Kimball Township in St. Clair County, Denmark Township in Tuscola County, and Worth Township and Lexington in Sanilac County.

Authorities also raided a greenhouse in Worth Township as well as the home of Debra Amsdill.

Six people face multiple felony charges, according to information and warrant documents from the attorney general’s office.

Debra Amsdill, an owner of the Blue Water Compassion Centers, said she would issue a statement on the charges tomorrow.

Law
10:33 am
Thu November 15, 2012

New Michigan Bar Exam scoring causing a stir in legal community

Joe Gratz flickr

Nearly half the people who took the latest state exam for aspiring attorneys failed.

Among first time test takers, just 62-percent passed; the lowest passage percentage in at least a decade.

Many in the legal community are blaming the sharp drop on the new way the test score is calculated.

Marcia McBrien is a spokeswoman for the Michigan Supreme Court. The court nominates the State Board of Law Examiners (BLE), which oversees the Michigan Bar Examination.

“The goal here is for those who pass the bar exam to have a certain level of competence and we think that’s what we’re doing,” McBrien said.

The board changed the formula it used to score the test in February and July this year.

Markedly more people failed both of those exams compared to previous years.

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Developing
2:00 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Updates on the I-96 shooter

A sketch of the man suspected of random shootings in a four-county area along I-96 in Michigan.
MSP

Update Thursday, November 1, 2:00 p.m.

A series of shootings on or near I-96 has Michigan motorists thinking twice about driving the interstate.

A police task force reports 24 confirmed shootings since October 16. Here is a summary of what we've learned since then:

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Education
11:48 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Former charter school director in Muskegon charged with falsifying count records

Image of the homepage for the WayPoint Academy charter school in Muskegon.
www.4waypoint.com

Student Count Day just took place across Michigan earlier this week. The amount of state aid a school receives is dependent on the number of students attending.

Now we hear news about a charter school director who may have falsified student count records.

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Police
12:56 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Saginaw police officers disciplined in wake of homeless man shooting, mother still looks for answers

A screenshot from the cell phone video which shows Milton Hall being shot and killed by Saginaw Police officers.
CNN

Earlier this month it was announced the Saginaw police officers who shot and killed a homeless, mentally ill man would not face criminal charges. 49-year-old Milton Hall was killed by Saginaw Police July 1, after police say he refused to drop a knife. Six officers fired several dozen shots at Hall.

Now we hear that some officers will be disciplined internally by the Saginaw Police Department.

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Crime
11:02 am
Mon September 17, 2012

A violent weekend in Flint, Michigan, homicides hit 50

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

The Flint Journal reports this morning about three killings over the weekend, bring the total number of homicides to 50:

Three homicides in as many days has brought the city's total to 50 slayings for the year.

The latest was a shooting and hit and run that left one man dead...

The city didn't record its 50th homicide last year until late October.

In 2010, the city set a record for the number of homicides at 66. That's in a city with a shrinking population.

Law
1:02 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Owners of M-22 logo promise to "go down fighting"

State route M-22 winds through Michigan's scenic Leelanau County.
Larry Page wikimedia commons

Several years ago, brothers Matt and Keegan Myers had an idea - capitalize on the love people have for the Leelanau County area by selling t-shirts, hats, coffee cups, bumper stickers, wine, and other items with the state highway M-22 logo on them.

State highway M-22 winds through the scenic coastal areas northwest of Traverse City, and along the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan's "pinkie."

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Offbeat
10:37 am
Fri August 24, 2012

With no trace of bedbugs, Detroit court back in session

The much pilloried bedbug.
Piotr Naskrecki CDC/Harvard University

Yesterday, 36th District Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller cleared her courtroom after bedbugs were reportedly seen on a man sitting in the courtroom.

Today, the Associated Press reports the court is back in session:

Court officials say a pest control company was called in to investigate and found no evidence of the presence of bedbugs. A release called it a "false alarm."

The man was accompanying a witness to a hearing before Miller. His daughter later said she knew there were bedbugs in her father's house.

Miller said Thursday the evacuation was "for everybody's well-being." Her staff was sent home after Miller was unable to move her cases to another courtroom.

Law
10:30 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Pastor in West Michigan accused of embezzling more than $100,000

MLive reports the Pastor of a church with around 750 members confessed to turning in receipts for reimbursement that were never approved.

More from MLive:

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3:26 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Michigan inmate challenges former governor Granholm's commutation reversal

Lead in text: 
A fascinating story about a last second reversal by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. At the end of her term as governor in 2010, Granholm had signed an order commuting Matthew Makowski's sentence of life without parole. Makowski was convicted of first degree murder for setting up a robbery of a co-worker in 1988. But after she was contacted by the victim's family, Granholm reversed her order. Now lawyers are arguing whether she had the authority to rescind her original order.
LANSING, Mich. - Three days before Christmas 2010, a Michigan inmate got a remarkable gift: Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she would commute his life sentence for first-degree murder, ensuring his release after two decades in prison for setting up a robbery that led to the fatal stabbing of a co-worker.
Law
6:01 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Juvenile lifer ruling requires authorities to track down victims

There is some question on the reach of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says it may only apply going forward and not to the 366 juvenile lifers currently serving in Michigan prisons.

Dawn Van Hoek directs the State Appellate Defender Office, which represents some of the juvenile lifers. She disagrees and said every juvenile sentenced to life without parole should get a new hearing.

“I think they’ve already signaled, the Supreme Court has, and, you know, you have to wonder why even bother if you’re not going to apply it to the hundreds of people who were affected nationwide by these unconstitutional laws,” said Van Hoek.

That would also require the state to track down the families of murder victims who have a right under Michigan law to testify at sentencing hearings.

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Law
9:32 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Three things people in poverty worry about that you probably don't

Many little things can conspire to keep people from climbing out of poverty.

Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity project takes of look at some of them in his report, When Working Hard Doesn't Necessarily Get You Out of Poverty.

He writes, “life is hard for people in poverty. But, … you still have no idea what it’s like to live with poverty day after day.”

Here are three things that the average middle class person probably doesn’t worry about.

  1. "If you’ve got a college degree, and you’re on salary, would taking your daughter to school really be a major factor in losing your job?" It was for the father Dustin Dwyer spoke to in his story.
  2. Losing your kids to the foster care system, not because you do horrible things, but because you don’t have the resources.  University of Michigan law professor Vivek Sankaran says that happens more often than you'd think.
  3. Not being able to pay your parking tickets and losing your license.
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