Stories regarding the legal system

Margaret O'Brien
Margaret O'Brien / senatormargaretobrien.com

Legislation created out of tragedy is scheduled for a vote in the state Senate this week. Larry Nassar is the former Michigan State University sports doctor who sexually assaulted young patients under the guise of treatment for decades. Lawmakers have been working on legislation to prevent a similar case from happening again.

A Community Court graduation with Judge Shannon A. Holmes of Detroit's 36th District Court.
Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center

For most misdemeanor offenses in Michigan, the likely punishment is a fine, jail time, or both. But each Wednesday in Detroit’s 36th District Court, a different vision of justice plays out.

That vision is based on the principles of restorative justice, the backbone of the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center, which operates Detroit’s only community court.  

Aimee Stephens
ACLU of Michigan

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled in favor of a fired transgender funeral director.

Aimee Stephens said she was unlawfully fired by Michigan-based R.G. & G.R Harris Funeral Homes after disclosing she was transitioning from male to female and dressed as a woman.

Razor wire on top of chain-link fence.
Robert Hickerson / Unsplash

The state House has adopted bills that would allow prisoners in advanced stages of illness including cancer and dementia to be paroled for medical reasons.

The House split on the bills with Republicans and Democrats voting on both sides of the issue.

AdeptDrivers / Creative Commons

Last week, Gov. Snyder signed legislation ending the state’s much-hated Driver Responsibility Fees (DRFs). 

A metro Detroit family is going public with allegations, and video, about abuse their elderly father suffered in a Livonia nursing home.

Hussein Younes and his six children are suing Livonia’s Autumnwood nursing home.

Michigan Court of Appeals

The chief judge of Michigan’s Court of Appeals is retiring. 

Michael J. Talbot has served as a judge for four decades. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1998. Talbot is 72 years old.  

Talbot has drawn praise for his skills as a jurist and for his administrative abilities.

While a member of the appeals court, Talbot is credited with cleaning up Detroit's 36th District Court in 2013-14. The district court had struggled with budget problems and employee issues.

detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two Detroit police officers have been charged in an October fatal crash.

Wayne County prosecutors said Friday that 26-year-old Stephen Heid and 28-year-old Ronald Cadez face charges of willful neglect of duty.

Michael Tapp / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for background checks on everyone who buys a firearm. That would include in-store purchases and person-to-person sales.

They say that would help ensure that people prone to violence won’t be able to legally get hold of a firearm.

State Rep. Tim Griemel, D-Auburn Hills, says the state should require checks for in-store and person-to-person gun sales.

“This is the best, most common-sense way to ensure that guns are not in the hands of those who are prone to violence,” he said. 

Republicans are not on board.

U.S. Marine Corps. / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

Moms and other activists against gun violence gathered at the state Capitol today.  They wanted to meet with as many lawmakers as possible.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America wants lawmakers to keep guns out of schools. In the wake of a mass school shooting in Florida, multiple lawmakers have called for school safety measures like arming teachers.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof is the sponsor of that bill. He says his legislation would help make schools safer.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

"It's been a hard row," Macomb County Court Clerk Karen Spranger told a federal district judge Tuesday about the legal and administrative roadblocks placed in the way of her effort to run the office how she wishes. "It's very unfair. This has to stop."

Spranger, representing herself, claims the county, the courts, unions, and the media have conspired to deprive her of her civil rights. That's after a circuit court stripped her of most of her authority for refusing to fill crucial positions necessary to keep county government operating. 

Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats

A Michigan lawmaker charged with putting a no-show employee on his state payroll has turned down a plea deal and will go to trial.

Sen. Bert Johnson, a Democrat from Highland Park, is accused of repaying $14,000 in loans by putting Glynis Thornton on the payroll in 2014. The government says she did no work for $23,000.

Johnson denies the theft charge. He appeared in court Tuesday and told a judge that he rejected a plea deal that carried up to a year in prison.

Ryan Basilio / Creative Commons

The Catholic Church's lobbying arm in Michigan says it has concerns with a bill that would retroactively lengthen the time limit for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits.

Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger
Macomb Daily

On Tuesday, Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger, representing herself, will appear at a hearing in her lawsuit against the county before federal district judge George Steeh.

She is expected to argue that he should recuse himself.

That's because twenty years ago, he was a Macomb County judge, and her lawsuit is alleging a conspiracy led by various Macomb County actors.

Michigan Radio
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers have a plan to fight sexual assault against young people. Some of the bills could have an impact on future lawsuits against Michigan State University.

The school has come under fire recently for accusations that it ignored complaints against former MSU sports doctor, Larry Nassar. Nassar was recently sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting young women. Multiple women are currently suing the school.

Lindsey Lemke says she reported Nassar to an MSU official, but was ignored.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials in Jackson County are asking Gov. Rick Snyder to remove their sheriff from office over insulting remarks about women and minorities.

A letter was sent Friday by the county's Board of Commissioners. Chairman Steve Shotwell Jr. says Sheriff Steven Rand's conduct is a "threat to the core values of the community."

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

There was a fierce debate today leading up to a state House vote to adopt English as Michigan’s official language. The bill cleared the House on a mostly party-line vote.

Republicans say it would reflect what’s already the practice in state government.

State Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, said the bill is a waste of time.

“We have roads to fix, schools to improve, mental health services to fix," she said. "Any reasonable observer would conclude this bill is only meant to be inflammatory and divisive."

Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Lawyers for wrongfully convicted ex-prisoners are crying foul over the dismissal of their clients claims on the grounds of a missed deadline that they dispute.

The exonerated former inmates are seeking damages under the recent Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act. The 2016 law is intended to compensate people for the years they were wrongly imprisoned.

Gabi Silver represents one of the ex-prisoners, Konrad Montgomery, who spent more than three years in prison for a crime he did not commit. 

Wilson X / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will consider changing the rules that allow courts to permanently remove children from their parents.

The bills are on their way to the governor’s desk. One would prevent the state from automatically asking that a parent’s rights be terminated just because they had their rights terminated to other children.

 “It absolutely is a due process issue," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a bill sponsor. "And it’s a protection of the poor.”

Stateside 2.21.2018

Feb 21, 2018

Today on Stateside, we learn Wayne and Washtenaw county leaders plan to pursue a mass transit plan, with or without Macomb and Oakland counties. And, we hear from the lieutenant who filed a federal lawsuit against the Jackson County sheriff, calling him a "multi-faceted bigot."

SalFalko / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Governor Rick Snyder has suggested Michigan should restructure the state’s juvenile justice system. However, little has been done.

Paul Elam, president of Public Policy Associates and an advocate for juvenile justice, recently wrote an opinion piece in Bridge Magazine, which indicated the youth in the juvenile justice system don’t have the luxury of time.

marijuana bud
Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

The legal confusion surrounding medical marijuana in Detroit has grown even more confusing with a judge’s surprise ruling last week.

Detroit voters passed two ballot proposals that laid out new rules governing how and where medical marijuana is permitted, transported, and sold in the city. It effectively overturned parts of an existing city ordinance that restricted where dispensaries could locate.

Michigan State Police

State Sens. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, Vincent Gregory, D-Lathrup Village, and Margaret O'Brien, R-Portage, have introduced bills to try to reduce tensions that can arise for drivers and police officers alike during traffic stops.

The so-called "What to do if stopped by blue" legislation would require driver's education to include training for how to act during a traffic stop by police.

The training would be developed by the Michigan Secretary of State and the Michigan State Police.

An aerial view of Little Caesar's Arena.
Michigan Radio

An African American carpenter says he suffered racial discrimination and harassment on the job during the construction of Detroit’s Little Caesar’s Arena.

Harold Wilson is suing Hardman Construction, the contractor he spent just two days working for in 2015.

Wilson says he had trouble getting hired, despite a need for skilled tradesmen and Detroit resident workers. A city ordinance requires that 51% of all employees working on major development projects in Detroit be city residents.

scales of justice
North Charleston / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A federal lawsuit alleges that a Michigan sheriff made insulting remarks against blacks, women and Hispanics and mocked a lieutenant for his work-related hearing loss.

Jackson County Lt. Tommy Schuette filed a federal lawsuit against the county and Sheriff Steven Rand on Monday. The lawsuit states that many of Rand's derogatory comments were recorded.

The Michigan State Capitol
Aunt owwee / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan drivers will get a tax cut, and those who owe extra fees assessed for certain traffic infractions will see them waived under bills approved by the Legislature.

The House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation Wednesday after Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders reached a deal. Snyder will soon sign the tax reduction and debt forgiveness plans into law.

The bills gradually raise Michigan's personal tax exemption to $4,900 by 2021 — $600 higher than under current law. That's roughly a $25 tax cut per person, or $100 for a family of four.

Convicted criminals could be required to listen to victim impact statements at sentencing. That’s if a bill continues to make its way through the state Legislature. It was voted out of a House committee today, and is waiting for a full House vote.

State Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, is a bill sponsor. She says the bill stems from the murder of a woman in Muskegon County. At his sentencing, the defendant was allowed to leave the courtroom during statements made by the victim’s family.

Daniel / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Today, the State House Judiciary Committee continues its review of legislation that would change Michigan's civil asset forfeiture laws.

Current law allows police officers to take and keep property from people even when they have not been charged or convicted of a crime.

Among other things, the legislation would require a criminal conviction before police can seize property under the civil asset forfeiture process. Supporters of this reform, like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the ACLU of Michigan, say it protects people's property rights and civil liberties.

Larry Nassar
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University have responded to initial inquiries from Congress regarding their handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

A Senate subcommittee made the institutions' answers public Tuesday.

Former Saginaw credit union CEO pleads guilty to 13 felonies

Feb 13, 2018
Saginaw County Sheriff's Office

The former CEO of Valley State Credit Union in Saginaw has pleaded guilty to 13 felonies. Stanley Hayes was charged after he stole $710,000 from the credit union.

The 45-year-old Hayes was the credit union's CEO from 2005 until he was fired in 2016. While he was CEO, credit union funds were used to conceal financial strain the bank was facing as well as personal expenses such as insurance and property taxes.