Law

Law
12:08 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Was it murder or self-defense? Jurors will decide case of man who shot Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride
Credit Family photo

Was it murder or self-defense?

That’s the question jurors will decide in the case of Theodore Wafer, whose trial on charges including second-degree murder is now underway in Detroit.

Wafer is the white, Dearborn Heights homeowner who shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch last fall.

No one disputes that Wafer shot and killed McBride after she knocked on his front door around 4 am on November 2nd.

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Courts
5:16 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Washtenaw judge dismisses lawsuit to block oil drilling project

An oil well.
Credit morguefile

A judge in Washtenaw County today dismissed a lawsuit to prevent oil drilling in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards wants to stop West Bay Exploration from drilling. So it sued the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for what it calls an "unfair and faulty" permitting process.

But the judge ruled that he had no jurisdiction over the case. He said Ingham County is the appropriate court.

Arthur Siegal represents the non-profit group. He said West Bay could start drilling within a week.

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Law
6:47 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Detroit retirees said "yes" to the city's bankruptcy restructuring plan. What's next?

Detroit retirees voted overwhelmingly to approve emergency manager Kevyn Orr's plan of adjustment.

That plan includes the unprecedented "grand bargain"--a mixture of public and private funds that will minimize cuts to city pensions, while protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts' assets from other city creditors.

But retirees aren't the only group of creditors who voted on the plan. Other groups did as well--and not all voted "yes."

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Law
1:55 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Michiganders could lose federal tax credits for Obamacare

A three-judge panel in Washington ruled 2-1 that the law, as written, only allows insurance subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges. That invalidated an Internal Revenue Service regulation that allowed subsidies in all 50 states. (Associated Press)
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal court ruling today could affect tens of thousands of Michiganders who got health insurance through Obamacare.

More than 237,000 of the 272,000 Michiganders who signed up for Obamacare selected a plan through the marketplace with federal financial assistance.  The tax credits helped subsidize health insurance payments for low- and moderate-income people.

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Law
12:37 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Detroit retirees say yes to the "grand bargain" in big victory for Kevyn Orr, DIA

The grand bargain would protect the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection from being sold to pay off the city's debts.
Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

The proposed "grand bargain" that would soften the blow to Detroit pensioners while preserving the city's art collection has cleared a major hurdle.

That's because city retirees have voted for the plan by an overwhelming margin.

As city creditors, pensioners got to cast ballots for or against emergency manager Kevyn Orr's bankruptcy restructuring. The grand bargain is an integral part of that plan of adjustment.

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Law
11:50 am
Mon July 21, 2014

DWSD will temporarily halt controversial water shutoffs

A DWSD spokeswoman insists this is a “pause," not a moratorium, to give people time to pay their overdue water bills.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will stop shutting off water service to people with unpaid bills.  

Curtrice Garner is a DWSD spokeswoman.  She insists this is a “pause," not a moratorium, to give people time to pay their overdue water bills.

“What we are going to do is temporarily stop the shutoffs or collections efforts,” says Garner, “However, after the 15 day period, we’ll commerce what we were doing which is shutting off those who are in delinquent status.”

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Law
11:12 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Jury selection begins in Renisha McBride shooting case

Credit Family photo

DETROIT (AP) - Jury selection starts today in Detroit in the trial of a 55-year-old man who shot to death a young woman who had been knocking on his door in the wee hours of the morning in November.

Prosecutors say Theodore Wafer grabbed his shotgun, opened the front door of his Dearborn Heights home and blasted 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face.
 

McBride was drunk but unarmed when she had gone to get help after crashing her car.

Wafer claims McBride was aggressive and violent and that he acted in self-defense.

Law
6:00 am
Mon July 21, 2014

We should learn whether Detroit retirees approved the "grand bargain" today

We should know how Detroit retirees voted on the proposed “grand bargain” later today.

City pensioners had until July 11th to vote on the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan, formally known as the “plan of adjustment.”

The grand bargain is just one part of that plan.

It would use more than $800 million in combined state and private foundation dollars to backstop city pension funds, minimizing retiree losses.

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Law
5:04 pm
Sat July 19, 2014

Supreme Court orders exam of Michigan judge's mental health

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission wants the judge suspended, but the Supreme Court didn't go that far. The court says the judge must be examined for "psychiatric disorders."
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered a judge to undergo a mental health exam.

The judge's name was not disclosed in an order released Friday. The judge's attorney, Brian Einhorn, says the judge went on leave earlier this year because of a physical problem and remains off the bench. He declined to elaborate.

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission wants the judge suspended, but the Supreme Court didn't go that far. The court says the judge must be examined for "psychiatric disorders."

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Law
3:58 pm
Sat July 19, 2014

Michigan inmate accepts $250 to settle lawsuit

John Jacobson
Credit Michigan Department of Corrections

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - The state Corrections Department has agreed to pay $250 to settle a lawsuit by an inmate who said his health was harmed by exposure to mold and bleach.

John Jacobson says he was told to remove the mold with undiluted bleach but no mask. He says the mold in his cell gave him allergies, and bleach caused nose bleeds, sinus problems and headaches.

The 44-year-old Jacobson was housed at the Cotton prison in Jackson. He's now at a prison in mid-Michigan with 2 1/2 years left before he's eligible for parole for third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

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Law
3:54 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Flint residents criticize state troopers during a community meeting

Lt. Tom Deasy (right) listens as multiple speakers criticize how Michigan State Police troopers are handling their job patrolling Flint's streets
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State Police troopers faced a barrage of criticism during a community meeting in Flint today. Much of the complaints centered on recent fatal auto accidents involving state troopers.

It was a sometimes emotional three hour meeting between Flint residents and state police commanders.

Many people, including family members of two women killed in auto accidents linked to car chases involving state troopers, blasted the state police.

“You don’t even have a 'Plan B' when you’re chasing somebody,” a woman in the audience, “That just doesn’t make any sense, to come here as a professional and kill people who were not even involved in what you were dealing with.”

Dozens of Michigan State Police troopers are patrolling Flint city streets and assisting with investigations in the city.  The troopers are augmenting Flint's depleted police department, which has been decimated in recent years by budget cuts.

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Law
5:31 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

AG Schuette won’t give details on his opposition to medical marijuana bills

Credit bobdoran / Flickr

The state attorney general is not saying why he opposes bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan. Some top lawmakers are now urging Bill Schuette to detail his concerns.

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Law
5:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Future of medical marijuana bills uncertain after clearing state Senate panel

Credit user elioja / Flickr

Two bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan are one step closer to becoming law. A state Senate panel approved the legislation Wednesday.

But it is not clear what will happen to the bills now that they are going to the full Senate.

House Bill 4271 would let communities decide to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of cannabis.

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Law
8:34 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

The battle continues over bringing undocumented children to Michigan

Dozens of protesters staged a protest outside the Wolverine facility on Monday.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The courts may be the next step for groups fighting plans to bring dozens of undocumented children to a facility in Michigan.

Tens of thousands of undocumented children have flooded across the southern U.S. border since the beginning of the year.  Wolverine Human Services is negotiating a contract to bring up to 120 boys between 12 and 17 years of age to its facility in Vassar, Michigan.  

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Law
7:45 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Some Flint residents want state troopers to leave town

About 40 Michigan State Police troopers assist the Flint police department on a daily basis. They perform mainly patrol and investigation functions.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Frustration of about the presence of Michigan State Police troopers patrolling Flint hit the street today.

Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis organized a rally that brought out more than 100 people to Flint city hall.  Davis says state troopers are driving on city streets “like renegades and cowboys.”

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Law
2:18 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Energy giant faces criminal trial on bid-rigging in Michigan lease sale

Credit World Resources Institute

You might recall that earlier this year Michigan’s attorney general filed charges against two energy giants.

Encana Oil and Gas USA and Chesapeake Energy were accused of colluding to lower the price of land leases for oil and gas exploration.

Last Friday, a Michigan Cheboygan County District Court judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy Corp must face a criminal trial, citing evidence of a conspiracy between the companies.

Reuters quoted Judge Maria Barton of Michigan’s Cheboygan County District Court:

"The direct and circumstantial evidence established that the parties did in fact strike an agreement to bid-rig the State sale." 

Part of that evidence could have come from Encana Oil. That company struck a plea deal with the State of Michigan in exchange for its help in Michigan's anti-trust case Chesapeake Energy. Encana also agreed to pay a $5 million fine.

This past May, MPRN's Rick Pluta reported:

 If Encana lives up to its end of the bargain, the state will drop other criminal charges at a sentencing hearing in 11 months.

Chesapeake Energy is the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas.

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Law
6:38 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Detroit "grand bargain" ballots were due today

Credit Sam Beebe

Today was the deadline for Detroit retirees to vote on the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan, known formally as a “plan of adjustment.”

The California firm tallying the votes had to receive them by today.

All creditors get to vote on the plan of adjustment. But pensioners’ votes are particularly key—especially when it comes to the future of the “grand bargain.”

That’s the deal to use more than $800 million in public and foundation money to minimize pension cuts, and protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection from being sold to pay off creditors.

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Law
11:07 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Central American children, if they come to Michigan, would stay just 2-4 weeks

Protesters placed flags in front of the high school, where a community meeting was held to address some of the rumors swirling.
Credit Alyse Guenther / Michigan Radio

Some 200 people and about a dozen media outlets stuffed into an airless high school cafeteria in Vassar, Michigan last night.

The small town of some 2,600 has been thrown into the center of the immigration debate during the past few weeks.

That's because a local juvenile center, Wolverine Human Services, is in talks to temporarily house as many as 120 of the unaccompanied Central American children flooding into the U.S.

And so far, Vassar appears very, very against that idea. 

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Breaking
4:46 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Michigan Supreme Court rules juvenile lifers not entitled to re-sentencing hearings

Credit user FatMandy / flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court says felons sentenced as juveniles to life without parole won’t get new sentences.

That’s despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says it’s cruel and unusual punishment.

The question was whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller vs. Alabama applies retroactively in Michigan to more than 300 inmates sentenced as juveniles to life without parole, or if it only applies to future cases.

A four-to-three majority on the state Supreme Court says it would present too many financial and logistical barriers to go back and find lost witnesses and evidence for new sentencing hearings.

The Miller decision says mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional because they don’t take into account each child’s circumstances.

States have split on how to handle the Miller decision, which suggests the issue could yet be headed back one day to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Law
12:30 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Music duo Insane Clown Posse loses gang lawsuit

Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse, known as Juggalos and identified by their grease facepaint, have been accused by the FBI of gang activity.
Credit Jen Sadler / flickr

DETROIT - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at scrubbing an FBI report that describes fans of the rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse as a loosely organized gang.

Detroit federal Judge Robert Cleland says the government isn't responsible for acts by local police agencies that use the 2011 report.

Fans of Insane Clown Posse are known as Juggalos. The FBI report labels the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang," although that description isn't part of the most recent national report on gangs.

Juggalos say their reputations have suffered because they have jewelry or tattoos with the group's symbol, a man running with a hatchet.

The lawsuit was dismissed last week. The Insane Clown Posse is Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, known as Shaggy 2 Dope.

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