Law

Stories regarding the legal system

A musician who was jailed last summer for refusing to stop playing his guitar on a sidewalk is suing the city of Saugatuck in federal court.

The city says the sidewalks are too packed in the summer to allow unrestricted entertainment. Musicians can play in city parks without permits.

Persons with Fungal Infections Linked to Steroid Injections, by State
CDC

UPDATE: This story was updated on 12/18/14 at 9:48 am

Fourteen people face federal charges for mishandling tainted drugs that caused a nationwide meningitis outbreak.

A co-owner of the New England Compounding Center and the supervisory pharmacist face the most serious charges of causing the deaths of 64 people; 23 of those victims were from Michigan.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says his office helped in the federal investigation and he’s pleased to see it led to serious charges.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate may vote in the next day or so on major changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

The bills would create a framework for licensing dispensaries and regulating edible forms of marijuana. 

Critics say the legislation is too vague.  

“I think it’s the equivalent of Obamacare in terms of not being vetted properly,” says Terrence Jungel, with the Michigan Sheriff’s' Association. 

But supporters say the legislation has been under development for years and is not being rushed through in the final days of the Legislature’s lame-duck session.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate Judiciary committee will consider a bill tomorrow that would make it easier for criminals to have part of their records expunged.

House Bill 4186 would allow people convicted of a single felony or a couple of misdemeanors to apply to have them removed from their record.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About 20% of Michigan’s inmates suffer from some kind of mental health condition.

So if the state could divert people away from prison and into treatment, the prison population would drop.

That’s the thinking behind a “diversion” program being tested in a few areas of Michigan.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A new umbrella group says Michigan’s leaders need to hear their concerns about fairness in law enforcement.

The Coalition for Justice and Fairness to Reform Law Enforcement has come up with a list of priorities it wants state and local officials to address, members announced in Detroit Tuesday.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack.
Bridget Mary McCormack for Justice

In 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court has decided 52 cases, dealt with judicial misconduct, and endured another contentious election cycle.

But despite widespread perception of the court as a politically-driven institution split along ideological lines, things behind the scenes are actually quite “collegial and high-functioning,” according to Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

Michigan state capitol.
Jimmy Emerson / flickr.com

Lawmakers are at odds over a bill that would change Michigan's definition of renewable energy to include  electricity generated by burning tires, used oil and industrial waste.

The Republican-backed legislation is pending in the Senate after it was approved last week on a mostly party-line vote in the House.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's police chief says his department needs stun guns, especially after an officer was attacked with a razor blade.

  Chief James Craig tells The Detroit News that he's talked to the mayor about purchasing Tasers. He acknowledges they're controversial and is open to a public discussion about their use.

USFWS

State wildlife officials are looking for wolf poachers in the Upper Peninsula.

Two wolves were killed last month in Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties.

In one case, a tracking collar on one of the wolves was removed. 

MorgueFile /

NILES – Police say four people have been stabbed on an Amtrak train in Michigan.

A suspect is in custody and the four wounded people were taken to hospitals.

The South Bend Tribune in Indiana reports that Niles, Michigan, Police Chief Jim Millin says someone called police from aboard the train Friday night to report a suspicious person. When police arrived at the Niles train station, the attack was already underway.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is bringing a class-action lawsuit against Muskegon County on behalf of current and former female inmates at the jail.

ACLU attorney Miriam Auckerman alleges women at the jail are forced to shower and use the toilet in front of male guards. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Michigan are protesting the death of Eric Garner. It's the second time protesters have come out in two weeks. Previous rallies took place after a grand jury decided not to charge a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Missouri.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Yesterday the choice of whether to add LGBT rights to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was stalled in the House Commerce Committee, and it looks like it will likely stay there.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill that is supposed to protect people exercising their sincerely held religious beliefs from government interference cleared the state House today.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Jase Bolger, was brought up right after Bolger declared dead the effort to add LGBT protections to Michigan's civil rights law.

taliesin / Morgue File

Ypsilanti's city council approved body cameras for police officers at Tuesday night’s meeting in city hall.

Police Chief Tony DeGiusti requested the cameras as part of a series of overdue updates to the department’s deteriorating patrol car cameras, microphones and the DVD burning system police use to make copies of patrol videos for lawyers.

Michigan Dept of Corrections

A convicted killer will get a chance at a new sentence.   

In this case, one hour makes a big difference.

Deandre Woolfolk was about an hour shy of his 18th birthday when he took part in the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl.

Woolfolk and two other men were convicted of murder in the case.

taliesin / Morgue File

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama administration announced that it will dedicate $263 million to body cameras for police officers. 

The White House has said it will match the spending of local law enforcement agencies in hopes of making body cameras more prominent.

Sean MacEntee / creative commons

Federal law enforcement agencies are warning online shoppers to be on the lookout for potential scams this “Cyber Monday” and beyond.

The Monday after Thanksgiving has become the busiest online shopping day of the year for American consumers.

And the FBI says it’s noticed a significant uptick in fraud schemes that start then, and last through the holiday season.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - A lawmaker from western Michigan is leading an effort to possibly save millions of dollars in the criminal justice system.

  Rep. Joe Haveman, a Republican from Holland, hopes to bring a pack of the bills to the House floor this week that would make changes in the parole process and create a commission to study sentences.

  Haveman wants to try to get more people out of prison if they're eligible for parole and not a risk to the public. He's been working with prosecutors, judges, sheriffs and defense lawyers on a compromise.

DETROIT  - A three-judge panel will hear former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal for a new trial.

  Documents show oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 13 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

  Kilpatrick wants his corruption conviction overturned. He is serving a 28-year sentence at a federal prison after a jury last year convicted him of two dozen crimes, from tax evasion to bribery. He appealed, saying there was a conflict involving his attorneys, among other reasons.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT  (AP) - A worker's compensation claim in Michigan could require a full tank of gas.

  The Michigan Supreme Court says a person injured on the job has no right to have a worker's compensation hearing in the same county. The court recently reversed a decision from the state appeals court in the case of Lawrence Younkin, who injured his back in Genesee County.

  Younkin sued after officials consolidated offices and moved some hearings to Eaton County from Flint, a distance of roughly 70 miles.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - Law enforcement officials in Detroit say they have arrested dozens of people and seized illegal weapons and drugs in a coordinated enforcement effort.

  The Detroit Police Department said in a press release Wednesday that the effort dubbed "Operation Wild Turkey" focused on two precincts on the city's east side. City police worked with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A former Kent County commissioner was sentenced to a year in jail this week.  Michael Wawee Junior pleaded no contest earlier this fall to a felony embezzlement charge.

Wawee is accused of overcharging families for the engraving of grave markers while working as a salesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.

The Republican from the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker was arrested earlier in February. He resigned later that month.

Wawee will also have to pay more than $200,000 in restitution. He’ll be on probation for three years.

Detroit won’t be quite ready to exit bankruptcy until next month, city lawyers told Judge Steven Rhodes at a hearing Monday.

Judge Rhodes has already approved the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. But the city must still complete a couple steps before it officially leaves Chapter 9.

It needs to make sure its two-year budget reflects the plan’s terms, and release details of the plan to financial markets.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Sixteen people were charged in an indictment unsealed today, for operating a fraudulent telemarketing scheme involving losses of $20 million and almost 300 victims around the country.

According to the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, the telemarketing ring called people offering them cheap deals on homes in Detroit, claiming the houses were bank-owned and up for a sale at a price way under their market value.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A federal judge in Detroit has refused to toss out a legal challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law. Judge Joseph Caram Steeh will allow a trial on the claim the law violates equal protection rights in the U.S. Constitution.

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court / court.mi.gov

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide next year whether the state’s right-to-work law applies to unionized civil service employees.

Four unions representing 35,000 state civil service workers filed the challenge. They say the right-to-work law does not apply to them because of the Michigan Constitution and the independent authority it gives the civil service system.

The right-to-work law was adopted two years ago by the Legislature during a contentious “lame duck” session. It says a union cannot compel an employee to pay union dues or fees as a condition of holding a job.  It’s not known how many workers have opted out of union membership since then.

The unions say the law does not trump the independence of Michigan’s Civil Service system because that is part of the Michigan Constitution. They say union membership is a condition to be negotiated with the state Civil Service Commission. The unions lost 16 months ago at the state Court of Appeals in a split decision. The majority opinion said the law applies equally to all employers.

The right-to-work law says a union cannot compel an employee to pay dues or fees as a condition of holding a job. It does not yet apply to state employees because they work under contracts adopted before the law took effect. 

Rick Pluta / MPRN

The legal team for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse filed its appeal today with the U.S. Supreme Court. They want the court to rule that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and others like it across the country are unconstitutional.

This is speedy timing as Supreme Court appeals go. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled less than two weeks ago, upholding same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The Ohio and Tennessee same-sex marriage appeals were filed last week. Now, Kentucky, and Michigan have filed. The goal is to get the case on the Supreme Court’s calendar in the current term.

“We’re very, very hopeful that the Supreme Court will take one of our cases,”said Dana Nessel, an attorney for DeBoer and Rowse, the lesbian couple from Hazel Park who sued the state of Michigan over its same-sex marriage ban. The two nurses want to get married so they can jointly adopt the children they’re raising together.

user Marlith / Flickr

A debate is shaping up in the Michigan House on whether Michigan’s civil rights law should be expanded to protect gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination. There’s also a fight brewing on whether those protections should extent to transgender people.

And House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) said he would only support adding “sexual orientation” (but not “gender identity”) to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the Legislature adopts a law to grant exceptions for many people with religious objections.

Pages