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Law

Stories regarding the legal system

Medical Marijuana
Dank Depot / Creative Commons http://tinyurl.com/oall5zn

Lawyers for Spectrum Health are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a patient who alleges the company told her employer she was a medical marijuana patient.

In court documents, Lisa Richlich’s lawyer alleges her Spectrum Health doctor was negligent and invaded his client’s privacy when the doctor sent medical information to Richlich’s employer.

Richlich was to have neck surgery in the spring of 2015. She asked her doctor to send information to her employer, auto-supplier Gentex, about the surgery so that she could get time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan officials are fighting a court order to start delivering bottled water directly to some Flint homes.

But local activists say that water is needed now, even as the case is appealed to a higher court.

Earlier this month, federal judge David Lawson ordered the state and the city of Flint to deliver cases of bottled water to homes without working water filters.  The filters are needed to screen out lead in the drinking water.

Collin Rose,29, was on the K-9 unit of the Wayne State University police force.
Wayne State University

This has been a developing story. We updated the post as new details were learned.

Update: Thursday, November 24, 10:45 a.m.   The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office says it has a warrant‎ request in connection with the fatal shooting of Officer Collin Rose that is currently being reviewed. An update will be sent out when charges are authorized.

Former Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings will spend a year in jail for misconduct in office and engaging the services of a prostitute.

He was sentenced today on the misdemeanor charges he pleaded guilty to back in August. Originally, Dunnings was charged with more than a dozen prostitution-related counts.

His arrest earlier this year stemmed from a federal investigation into human trafficking.

Prosecutors say Dunnings paid women for sex over several years.

Rosenbaum told us the state’s assertion that there’s no fundamental right to literacy is “nonsense.”
flickr user Thomas Galvez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


On September 13, seven Detroit school children sued state officials.

The suit was filed in federal court in Detroit. It claims that literacy is a fundamental right, and that the state has denied that right by fundamentally excluding Detroit students from the state’s educational system.

Now attorneys for Governor Rick Snyder have fired back. They say there’s no fundamental right to literacy, and this suit is “an attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.”

Kira Stewart-Watkins / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lawmakers are working to help schools with the recent hike in the cost of EpiPens.

In 2013, a new law required schools to have two auto-injectors of epinephrine on site at all times. Epinephrine is the drug used to treat a variety of allergic reactions.

The newly introduced bill would allow schools to get a prescription for epinephrine and give out the drug with a syringe by a trained staff member.

Prison wall
Microsoft Images

Michigan prosecutors are continuing their resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue of juvenile life sentences without parole.

The Supreme Court already ruled that denying parole to juvenile lifers is unconstitutional, except in the rarest of cases.

The ACLU is suing Michigan over the state's vague standards for denying parole to juvenile lifers.

Daniel Korobkin, the Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU of Michigan, says the state is being stubborn in terms of following the Supreme Court’s decision.

National Guardsmen delivered bottled water in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking for a stay of a federal court order that bottled water be delivered to Flint homes.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson issued an injunction last week directing the state of Michigan and city of Flint to begin delivering cases of bottled water to city residents without working water filters.     

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A man sentenced to automatic life in prison as a juvenile could get that sentence reinstated, even though decades of his court files are missing.

That’s what a Wayne County Circuit Court judge has ruled.

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Charles Lewis was convicted of murder and sentenced to automatic life without parole in 1977, when he was 17.

That makes him a so-called “juvenile lifer.” And the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled all juvenile lifers are entitled to a shot at parole or re-sentencing, except in the “rarest” cases.

U.S. Supreme Court justice denies state's appeal to block sex offender ruling

Nov 15, 2016
flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has rejected Michigan's request to put a hold on a lower court decision about the state's sex offender registry law while the state appeals.

Kagan denied on Tuesday Attorney General Bill Schuette's emergency appeal for a stay.

A federal appeals court ruled in August that Michigan unconstitutionally puts additional restrictions on sex offenders long after their convictions.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A U.S. District judge is ordering the government to ensure that every Flint household has safe drinking water. That means home delivery of bottled water.

Federal judge David Lawson issued his order Thursday.

“In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out,” writes Lawson in his order. “Relief is intended to provide a rough substitute for the essential service that municipal water systems must furnish: delivery of safe drinking water at the point of use.”

Rex Roof / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan man who authorities say was trying to return more than 10,000 cans and bottles for 10 cents apiece is avoiding jail time.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus of Howell reports Brian Edward Everidge of Columbiaville was ordered Thursday to pay $1,230 in fines and court costs following his earlier guilty plea to one count of beverage return of nonrefundable bottles.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is interested in the case of a student who was rejected for admission at a Roman Catholic school in Oakland County.

  Under Michigan legal precedent, courts have steered clear of certain decisions made by faith-based schools, saying it would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

  But the Supreme Court last week told lawyers to file arguments about whether that 1994 ruling should be overturned. The order lists other issues, too. It's no guarantee that the court will take action.

MORGUEFILE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Grand Rapids Police will deploy more patrol units and plainclothes officers in targeted areas of the city this weekend as it reacts to an increase in gun violence over the last two months.

Chief David Rahinsky said Friday the initiative called Operation Safe Streets also will include foot and bicycle patrols at times and the deployment of a mobile command post.

He's asking residents to support police responding to crimes and to report crimes they see being committed.

According to Moran, the statistics prove that African Americans are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than white people.
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan Radio is involved with several news media partners in a project called the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. One of the issues we're looking at this year is justice, things such as mass incarceration and wrongful conviction. 

There's a nationwide network of legal clinics that are working to litigate claims of actual innocence by prisoners. Many of these clinics base their work on DNA evidence which has led to clearing the names and the release of hundreds of people. 

At the University of Michigan, the Michigan Innocence Clinic operates a little differently. It pursues cases in which DNA evidence is not available. 

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state agency responsible for Michigan’s medical marijuana program says changes are in store. That’s after an audit found it’s not tracking doctors who approve medical marijuana cards.         

The report by the state Auditor General found one doctor was responsible for more than 11,800 medical marijuana cards -- one-fifth of all the cards approved. Another 22 doctors approved more than half of all medical marijuana cards.

Genesee County Jail
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A jury has awarded nearly $37 million to a man who was arrested for drunken driving and taken to the Genesee County jail where he was pepper-sprayed, hit with a stun gun, and restrained face-down with a hood over his face.

The verdict in favor of William Jennings was returned Thursday in Detroit federal court. He sued five former or current county officers, accusing them of excessive force after an arrest in 2010.

More than half of the multimillion-dollar verdict came in the form of punitive damages.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In 1967, many American cities were rocked by civil disturbances, including Detroit. Black people rose up against police brutality and unfair treatment.

Razor wire at a Detroit police station.
Tim Jones / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Heather Ann Thompson has been in the news recently because of the success of her new book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, a nonfiction finalist this year for the National Book Award.

The land around Little Traverse Bay, including Petoskey and Harbor Springs, is part of the area in question.
Flickr user Charles Dawley / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A treaty signed in the 1800's could dramatically change the political, environmental, and cultural landscape in northern Michigan.

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians have gone to federal court and are suing the state of Michigan.

The tribes claim a treaty signed in 1855 declared a reservation for them on what is today 337 square miles of land and 103 miles of lake shore. That land includes the cities of Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Good Hart, part of Charlevoix, as well as two islands in Lake Michigan.

Brandy Gutierrez was evicted from her house in Lincoln Park. She says no one told her it had gone into tax foreclosure until it was too late.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In Wayne County, tens of thousands of properties go into tax foreclosure every year.

Most are in Detroit. But it happens in the suburbs too.

Some suburban communities have started buying those tax-foreclosed homes, and turning them over to developers.

But many of the affected homeowners didn’t know that until it was too late to save their homes.

Some tried to fight anyway. But this month, that fight came to a bitter end.

VIDEO: Interview with Russell Simmons

Oct 31, 2016
Russell Simmons.
DPTV

We sat down with entrepreneur, author, clothing line creator, and film and music producer Russell Simmons to get his take on the state of police and justice for Chapter 6 in our Detroit Journalism Cooperative series: Justice.

Simmons talks about the frequency that African Americans are being killed by police which has shocked a nation. He also speaks about the importance of having African American police officers in urban areas like Detroit.

Watch the clips below:

Michigan Dept of Corrections

DETROIT (AP) - Workers have been paid overtime to search for a missing court file as a man seeks a new sentence in the death of an off-duty Detroit police officer.

  For nearly 40 years, Charles Lewis has been serving a no-parole sentence for the death of Gerald Swyitkowski. But Lewis was 17 at the time of the shooting and now is entitled to a hearing to determine if he'll be eligible for parole.

  But Wayne County authorities can't find the court file from the 1976 case. Lewis' attorney, Valerie Newman, says it's "impossible" to represent him without the records.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan appeals court has broken new ground with its interpretation of a law involving drugs near schools.

  Two people were charged in Oakland County with possessing drugs for delivery within 1,000 feet of a school. But the appeals court says prosecutors needed to show that the men planned to actually deliver the drugs to someone within that school zone.

  In a 2-1 decision Friday, the appeals court agreed that Judge Phyllis McMillen correctly dismissed the enhanced charges.

Inside Jackson Prison.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The prison reform movement in Michigan – and across much of the nation – is one of the rare issues in this contentious era that attracts support from individuals, public officials and organizations with a wide variety of agendas and political views.

U.S. Attorney

A Detroit immigration attorney accused of bribing a federal special agent is also being accused of defrauding former clients.

Attorney Brad Thomson represents some of Charles Busse's former clients. He says Busse made promises he couldn't keep, filed unnecessary documents, and that some people were deported to their home countries because of his mistakes.

Thomson says given the federal charges facing Busse, there may not be much money left over for his clients, and it may be difficult or impossible to reopen some deported immigrants' cases.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents who filed a class-action lawsuit related to the water crisis got good news and bad news this week.

A Court of Claims judge in Grand Rapids dismissed portions of the lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis The lawsuit alleges state and local officials, including Governor Rick Snyder, violated the constitution and denied them life, liberty, and property without due process.

Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court

Black and white residents of southeast Michigan differ in their perceptions of how people of color are treated in local courts, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

About half – 49%– of African-Americans surveyed said blacks were treated worse in the courtrooms, but just 16% of whites agreed. Nearly two-thirds – 64% – of whites said they think blacks are treated the same as whites, but only 40% of African Americans agreed that treatment is similar.

Gorchow told us that we need to be more skeptical of polls.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan is appealing a court order that blocks the state’s ban on Election Day “selfies” with ballots in polling places. A federal judge ruled earlier this week the “ballot selfies” ban violates First Amendment free speech rights.

The state says it’s late in the game to be changing the rules. The election is now less than two weeks away.

ACLU Michigan

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint against a Flint-area Catholic hospital with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The complaint says Ascension Health and its subsidiary, Genesys Health System, would not allow doctors to perform a medically necessary tubal ligation on a pregnant woman with a brain tumor.

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