Law

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.

Law
9:00 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Task force rolls out strategy to fight trafficking

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Courtesy of Bill Schuette

A state task force says a new approach is needed to address human trafficking in Michigan.

Among its recommendations: Minors who are sold for sex or cheap labor should not be charged with prostitution, delinquency or some other crime.

“A 15-year-old girl who is forced to have sex is a victim and not a criminal,” says state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who convened the commission. “Everyone needs to understand this.”

Advocates who participated say that means doing more than just changing laws. 

“How can we get them into that category of victim and out of that category of criminal?” says Bridgette Carr of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan.

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Law
9:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Detroit’s neglected infrastructure desperate for improvement

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Attorneys are back in a Detroit bankruptcy court this week, arguing over whether the city qualifies for what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The thinking goes like this: Cut the Motor City loose from some of its crushing debt and legacy costs – pegged at around $18 billion.

But even if that happens, the city will still have a huge task ahead of it: making a city infrastructure built for 2 million people work for a population that’s now under 700,000.

(As Rodney Dangerfield might say:) Take the buses. Please.

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Stateside
4:53 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

What is driving the violence in Detroit and Flint?

Joy VanBuhler Flickr

Election Day 2013 is close at hand.

And that's when Detroit voters will decide whether their next Mayor will be Mike Duggan or Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

The winner of the election will inherit the huge challenge of what to do about the crime rate in Detroit.

At least 386 people were murdered in the city last year, and recent FBI statistics put Detroit neck and neck with Flint for the top spot of most violent cities in America.

The high crime rate means those folks who can are getting out of these cities, which makes the economic downward spiral even worse.

What can be done? And do we really know what is driving the violence in cities like Detroit and Flint?

Michigan State University sociologist Dr. Carl Taylor joined us today from East Lansing. His new book "Third City" looks at the challenges in post-industrial Detroit and Michigan. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Law
12:21 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

Couch on the porch? Trash in the yard? Hold tenants responsible, lawmakers say

Credit Jusben / MorgueFile

Renters in Michigan might be held financially responsible if they they don't properly take care of their home under a bill being considered in Lansing. 

For example, if you put a couch on your porch and there's a law against that in your community, or you leave trash lying around  you should be fined, not your landlord. That's the gist of the bill that would put more legal responsibility on tenants.

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Law
5:56 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

Grand Rapids man claims he told US where bin Laden was

Tom Lee
Mlive.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan man claims he tipped federal investigators to the location of Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan years before his killing and is seeking the $25 million reward.

A letter obtained Friday by The Associated Press from a Chicago-based law firm representing Grand Rapids resident Tom Lee says the 63-year-old gem merchant reported the location of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad in 2003.

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Law
3:49 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

Detroit, bankruptcy creditors talking in private

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - While a judge determines the future of Detroit's bankruptcy case, key people are meeting behind the scenes to try to reach deals.

Private mediation sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, at the same time the city tries to convince a judge that Detroit is eligible to fix its debts in bankruptcy court. The trial in front of Judge Steven Rhodes started on Oct. 23.

Law
8:37 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court funds two new courts

Credit The Daily Record / Creative Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court has picked five projects to receive money for court innovations.

One project is a human trafficking court in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  It will determine whether offenders in prostitution cases are victims of human trafficking. If so, the court will offer services, not jail time.

Another involves using social media and technology to improve court communication in various counties.

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Law
8:42 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Lawmakers look to crack down on scrap metal theft

ChrisGoldNY Flickr

Legislation to crack down on scrap metal theft in Michigan has cleared the state House.

Among other things, the legislation would require scrap dealers to wait three days before paying for certain items that are commonly stolen, such as copper wire and air conditioners. It would also require more paper work for scrap metal sales.

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Law
8:37 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Bills would let prosecutors, guards carry concealed guns in pistol-free zones

Daniel Weber Flickr

County prosecutors, assistant prosecutors and jail guards could carry concealed guns in schools and other pistol-free zones under bills before the state Legislature. Elected prosecutors would get a lifetime exemption to the law that forbids most people from carrying concealed guns in pistol-free zones.

Supporters of the legislation – which cleared the state House Judiciary Committee Thursday – say guards and prosecutors face threats on and off the job.

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Law
6:47 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

GOP lawmakers want court of claims out of Ingham circuit

Joe Gratz Flickr

Lawsuits filed against the state would go to a new division of the Michigan Court of Appeals under a bill approved today by the state Senate.

Right now, the Michigan Court of Claims is part of the Ingham County Circuit Court. That’s where Lansing and the state capital are located.

“It makes absolutely no sense,” said state Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge). “You’re only going to draw from 3 percent of the population. What would they have said if I said, I’m going to put them all into Eaton County or all into Clinton County? That also would make no sense.”

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Law
8:53 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Conference looks at prescription drug abuse

v1ctor Casale Flickr

A two-day conference in Lansing is looking at ways to fight abuse and trafficking in prescription narcotics.

Health and law enforcement agencies say prescription drug addiction is a growing problem among teenagers.

Detroit U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says southbound U.S. 23 and I-75 have become corridors for prescription drug traffic.

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Law
3:12 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

ACLU warns 84 Michigan cities and towns to change their local panhandling laws

Ernest Sims was one of the plaintiffs in the case. He was ticketed and arrested in Grand Rapids, Michigan for panhandling.
ACLU-Michigan

Dozens of Michigan communities are getting letters from the American Civil Liberties Union warning them that their anti-panhandling laws may be unconstitutional.

Over the summer, a federal appeals court ruled Michigan’s anti-panhandling law was unconstitutional. 

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Law
5:38 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Baby Bree is going home as court returns daughter to medical marijuana patients

Steve and Maria Green say they did nothing illegal or to warrant the removal of their daughter, Bree (6 months).
Jake Neher/ MPRN

Two medical marijuana patients have won a legal battle to have their infant daughter returned to them.

Today, an Ingham County judge OK'd a deal that will allow an infant girl, known as Baby Bree, to be returned to her parents.

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Law
4:51 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Companies can't use religion as grounds to avoid contraception coverage

Plan B, also known as the 'morning after pill,' is a form of contraception.
IaIvanova Creative Commons

A federal appeals court ruled against a southeastern Michigan natural foods company that claims it should be exempt from the contraception provision in the federal health care law. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion today.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide workers with insurance that covers contraception.

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Law
8:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Is Detroit eligible for bankruptcy? Crucial trial starts today

A trial to determine Detroit’s fate in municipal bankruptcy starts Wednesday.

Judge Steven Rhodes will hear arguments from city lawyers about why Detroit qualifies for Chapter 9 protection.

University of Michigan law professor and bankruptcy expert John Pottow says some city creditors will argue that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was pre-determined--and there was no good-faith bargaining process, as the federal bankruptcy code requires.

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Law
3:59 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Kmart settles whistleblower prescription drug allegations

Kmart pharmacy
Kmartworld.com

The state of Michigan is getting part of a national settlement involving Kmart and prescription drugs.

The U.S. Justice Department says Kmart has agreed to pay $2.55 million to settle allegations of false prescription claims by its national pharmacy centers to government health insurance programs. 

Kmart allegedly violated the False Claims Act. The Justice Department says the retailer billed government health care programs, like Medicaid, for all drugs included in a prescription when it dispensed only a portion of the prescribed drugs.

Law
2:00 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

Proposed license plate scan regulations get thumbs-down from police

Credit sideshowmom / MorgueFile

More police agencies are using license plate readers while they're out on patrol, and that has some people worried about privacy.

The state House Criminal Justice Committee is discussing a bill that would limit the use of license plate readers  and require a purge of data after 48 hours.

The readers are usually mounted on patrol cars and automatically scan vehicle license plates. The scans are then cross-referenced for outstanding warrants or stolen vehicles, and in some cities, even unpaid parking tickets.

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