Law

Law
2:58 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Ann Arbor's controversial crosswalk law could be repealed

Crosswalk
Credit Morguefile

The Ann Arbor City Council will vote tonight on whether to repeal the city's crosswalk ordinance.

State law requires cars to stop only after pedestrians have entered a crosswalk.

But the Ann Arbor ordinance also requires cars to stop for pedestrians who are waiting on the curb.

Councilman Stephen Kunselman (D-Ward 3) said the local ordinance creates unsafe conditions.

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Law
4:44 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Listen to reaction from Renisha McBride's family after murder charges filed

Renisha McBride's parents, Walter Simmons and Monica McBride speak at a press conference today.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The parents of Renisha McBride spoke to the media today after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced that her office would charge the man responsible for McBride's death with second degree murder.

Theodore Wafer, a 54-year-old from Deaborn Heights, was arraigned in court today. His attorney said Wafer's gun went off accidentally.

Walter Simmons and Monica McBride say they are happy that Wafer was charged.

Listen to their reaction below: 

 

Law
2:17 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

What we know and what we don't know about the Renisha McBride case

Family photo

A 19-year-old woman was shot in the face and killed while standing on the front porch of 54-year-old homeowner in Dearborn Heights, an inner-ring suburb of Detroit.

The 19-year-old, Renisha McBride, was black.

The homeowner, Theodore Paul Wafer, is white.

There have been 40 other murders in Detroit since October 1, but this is the one in the spotlight. In a city plagued by so many racial complexities, this story resonates with people.

Here's what we know

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Breaking
11:17 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Man who shot Renisha McBride charged with murder in the second degree

Family photo

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced today that the man who shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2nd will be charged with murder in the second degree, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Second degree murder is non-premeditated murder. It can carry a sentence in Michigan of up to life in prison.

The man has been identified as Theodore Paul Wafer, a 54-year-old from Dearborn Heights.

McBride's family says she was seeking assistance after a car accident. A toxicology report showed McBride was intoxicated at the time. The homeowner said his gun discharged accidentally. 

Here is the 911 dispatch call that came in after the shooting:

We will have more on this story later. McBride's family is expected to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today.

*This post has been updated.

Law
10:44 am
Fri November 15, 2013

WATCH 11 a.m. announcement in Renisha McBride case

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced today that she is charging the man who shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride with second degree murder.

Here is the press conference courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:

Watch live streaming video from freeplive at livestream.com

*This post was updated at 12:15 p.m.

Law
7:00 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy judge rejects bid to keep loan terms secret

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case has denied a bid to keep some details of a controversial loan agreement secret.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled Thursday that the city must disclose all the terms of a proposed loan from the British financial giant Barclays. That loan deal is as complex as it is controversial.

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Law
8:44 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

State lawmakers look to crack down on urban blight

AcrylicArtist Morgue File

Many property owners who break anti-blight laws would face tougher penalties under bills approved Thursday in the state House. Under the legislation, the worst offenders could spend up to a year behind bars.

State Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Township) says a number of Michigan cities have good anti-blight laws on the books. But she says the consequences for breaking those laws aren’t tough enough to deter people.         

“So it puts the teeth into what those cities are trying to do in eliminating blight,” said Price.

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Law
4:31 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Lawmakers consider tougher penalties for animal neglect and cruelty

Puppy Mill
Credit Wikimedia

Two bi-partisan bills that subject pet shop operators and breeders to rules against animal neglect and cruelty are on their way to the Michigan House.

Senate Bills 285 and 286 also toughen penalties for animal neglect or cruelty, depending on the offender's prior convictions and the number of animals involved.

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Law
7:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Lawmakers begin review of alleged right to work violations

Lawmakers in Lansing may have to cut revenue sharing with local governments to fill the $1.8 billion budget hole.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Republican state lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of alleged violations of Michigan’s new right to work law.

A newly-formed state Senate committee Wednesday heard testimony from three teachers who are part of a lawsuit against the Michigan Education Association (MEA). They say the union bullied and threatened them when they tried to leave.

Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) chairs the Senate Compliance and Accountability Committee. He says the MEA also failed to alert teachers about how and when they could leave the union.

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Law
5:48 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Plan to sell medical marijuana at pharmacies clears state Senate

Credit USFWS

Pharmacies would be able to sell medical marijuana in Michigan under a measure approved by the state Senate today. But there’s no guarantee that will happen – even if it’s signed into law.

The legislation would only be implemented if the federal government decides to regulate marijuana as a prescription drug. And there’s no clear indication that’s in the cards.

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Law
5:35 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

Credit Matthileo / Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. This comes one day after Governor Rick Snyder signed the court shakeup. And it caps a fast and controversial path to shaking up the court.

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Law
9:13 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Grand Rapids looks to regulate increasingly popular ‘couch surfing’ rentals

The Coys offer guest rooms in their Heritage Hill home near downtown Grand Rapids for rent on airbnb.com.

Update 11/20/13: This week Grand Rapids City Commission voted to create a task force to study this issue deeper. See this new post for updated information.

The growing number of people renting out a room or just a couch in their homes on websites like airbnb.com has some cities considering how these set-ups should fit into local zoning regulations, business permits and taxes.

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Law
5:42 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Governor signs bill to move Court of Claims

Governor Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill that will shake up pending litigation against the state, and legal challenges to some of his administration’s most-controversial policies. The measure moves the Michigan Court of Claims out of the Ingham County circuit. Instead, those cases will be handled by judges on the state Court of Appeals.

“I thought it was an improvement over existing practice, which is very limited in terms of the judges that represent the citizens of our state, so it’s an improvement so I signed it,” said Snyder, adding that one county’s voters should not be choosing judges who make decisions on big claims against the state.

“It really allows statewide representation in terms of judges across the state to hear cases as opposed to the 3 percent of the population that’s represented by Ingham County judges.”

But the new law also moves lawsuits challenging the state’s emergency manager and right-to-work laws out of a venue run by judges elected in a predominantly Democratic county. The Court of Claims was placed in Ingham County four decades ago.

Law
3:56 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

What really happened the night Renisha McBride died?

Pallbearers carry Renisha McBride's casket.

Hear the full story above.

It's been a weary, awful November in metro Detroit so far. 

A week ago Saturday, 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot dead by a 54-year-old white homeowner in Dearborn Heights.

She was killed on his porch. Her family says she was looking for help after her car crashed, more than 2 hours earlier and about six blocks away in Detroit.

Police haven't released the homeowner's name yet. But his attorney says he thought McBride was an intruder, and that the gun went off accidentally. An autopsy confirms she was shot in the face.

So far, he hasn't been arrested. The Wayne County Prosecutor's office announced Monday that it had "begun the warrant review process," but was awaiting more evidence from Dearborn Heights police before deciding on charges.

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Law
7:22 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Closing arguments set to begin in Detroit bankruptcy trial

Closing arguments start Friday in Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility trial.

Witness testimony wrapped up this week, with former State Treasurer Andy Dillon and one of Governor Snyder’s top aides, Rich Baird, both taking the stand.

Dillon testified that he was “skeptical” after seeing Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s June proposal to city creditors, which included steep cuts to unsecured creditors, including pensions.

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Law
7:20 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Protesters call for answers, justice in Renisha McBride's death

Renisha McBride
Credit Family photo

Questions persist - and outrage is growing - over the death of a young unarmed Detroit woman in a suburban community.

Renisha McBride was shot to death on the porch of a Dearborn Heights home last weekend.

The circumstances surrounding her death remain murky. The man who killed her reportedly told police he thought McBride was breaking into his home, and he shot her accidentally.

The man has not been arrested or even identified.

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Law
5:51 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Bridge card ban at liquor store, casino, strip club ATMs moves ahead

Indiana Public Media Flickr

Michigan is one step closer to banning bridge card holders from using ATMs inside liquor stores, casinos, and strip clubs.

The state House passed the legislation Thursday with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“The use of the bridge card should be used as it is for the intent originally, making sure that families and children can have food on their table and providing for the necessities of life,” said bill sponsor Rep. Dale Zorn (R-Ida).

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Stateside
4:45 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

The future of mental health courts in Michigan

A gavel.
Brian Turner Flickr

The Michigan state House approved a package of bills that could lead to more mental health courts around the state. Now the omnibus bill is being sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But how exactly do these courts work? Which defendants would be allowed to be a part of a mental health court — and which would not?

One champion of the mental health courts is Judge Milton Mack, the chief probate judge in Wayne County. He explains what’s driven him to take on this cause, and what sort of human toll he’s seen from the bench.

Listen to the full interview above.

Law
1:50 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Former state Treasurer Andy Dillon finishes Detroit bankruptcy testimony

Former state Treasurer Andy Dillon.
Associated Press

Former state Treasurer Andy Dillon finished his testimonial in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, bringing his three-day testimonial to a close.

On Tuesday, Dillon defended his recommendation for Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, saying it was a “last-resort option.” But some of Detroit's creditors are arguing that the decision to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy was not exactly a last resort, but instead a quick decision that overlooked an opportunity to continue negotiations.

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Law
12:39 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Michigan's High Court to rule on life-without-parole sentences for minors

California inmates will be housed in a Baldwin prison beginning in 2011
Flickr user Still Burning Creative Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the state's juvenile lifer law applies retroactively to more than 300 inmates. The question is whether those inmates are entitled to parole hearings or if the decision only applies to current and future cases. 

The U.S. Supreme Court decision still allows life-without-parole sentences for minors. But it said courts have to hold hearings to decide whether there are circumstances like abuse or neglect, or whether a defendant was coerced into committing the crime.

The Michigan Supreme Court has also agreed to decide another question: whether minors convicted of assisting in a murder can be given life-without-parole sentences at all. The question is whether that violates the state constitution.

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