Law

Law
6:12 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Right to Life supports only part of so-called "heartbeat package"

A fetal ultrasound at approximately 7 weeks
Credit Flckr

Legislation in the state House proposed by state Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, would require abortion providers to use ultrasound to detect a fetus's heartbeat – and offer the woman a chance to hear it.

That bill has the support of Right to Life of Michigan.

But the group does not support Hooker's two other bills that make it a crime to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected.

Ultrasound can generally detect a heartbeat at about seven weeks.

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Law
10:23 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Bill would change who can make end-of-life decisions in Michigan

Credit Vu Bui / Flickr

Friends, partners or neighbors in Michigan who make legal medical decisions for a person when alive are not allowed the same right when the person passes away.

House Bill 5162 would change that by allowing someone who is not related to the individual to be designated as his or her funeral representative.

Anita Clos, assistant director of medical social work at the University of Michigan, says social workers witness the trauma families experience because of the way current law works.

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Law
12:18 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Attorney "stunned" and "skeptical" after GM admission of "incompetence and neglect"

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Dozens of people are suing General Motors over its ignition switch problem.

Texas attorney Bob Hilliard represents about 70 families suing GM in a variety of state and federal courts.

He says his clients were “stunned” to hear GM CEO Mary Barra admit the problem was a result of "incompetence and neglect."

“I don’t think that GM can come into a court of law anymore and argue it wasn’t their fault,” says Hilliard.  He says the only thing GM can argue now is “what is the value of the loss.”

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Law
4:27 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Attorney general shifts tactics in Lansing casino case

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is proposing a $245 million dollar casino in downtown Lansing
Credit Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

As expected, Michigan’s attorney general has dropped an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to block a Lansing casino project.

But the legal fight is far from finished.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state of Michigan could not sue the Bay Mills tribe to block it from operating a casino located off its reservation. The court ruled that the tribe has sovereign immunity.

The state was using the same legal strategy in an appeal in a case involving a proposed Lansing casino.

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Law
1:59 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Second chance for a clean record in "teen court"

A teen court program in Detroit works to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system.
Credit Jennifer Guerra

For a kid caught stealing a $30 bracelet from a store,  juvenile court would likely be the next stop.

But a "teen court" program in Detroit gives some teenagers a chance to avoid the juvenile justice system. It's one of about 1,000 programs across the country.

The teen court model still doles out consequences for kids who break the law, but the idea behind it is less about punishment and more about getting kids on the right path. Teenagers are involved in every aspect of the program. They are "lawyers" and "jury members," not just defendants.

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Law
3:22 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

State Supreme Court changes child welfare practice, says "one-parent" rule unconstitutional

Credit photo courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled a practice by the state's child welfare system is unconstitutional. 

Yesterday the State Supreme Court struck down a 12-year-old rule they said violated the constitution because it allowed the state to punish both parents for abuse or neglect of a child for whom only one parent was responsible, even when parents were not living together.

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Law
7:00 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Ruling that puts Conyers on the ballot also a victory for Michigan ACLU

The court ruling that put Detroit Congressman John Conyers back on the primary ballot is also a victory for voting rights advocates.

A federal judge recently declared a Michigan law that required petition circulators to be registered voters unconstitutional.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office has now opted not to appeal.

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Law
4:49 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

ACLU files lawsuit to force Michigan to recognize same-sex marriages

Samantha Wolf and Martha Rutledge are among the plaintiffs in the ACLU's case. They said, "we were so excited when we got married, but it felt like such a blow to have that taken away so soon."
Credit ACLU

The ACLU of Michigan has filed a lawsuit that seeks to force Michigan to recognize the marriages of around 300 same-sex couples.

The couples married on Saturday, March 22 after a federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage the day before. Several county clerks had opened their offices to allow the marriages to go forward. A federal appeals court later issued a stay on the ruling, which put a hold on any more marriages from taking place.

And Gov. Snyder later announced that the state would not recognize the marriages that took place on that Saturday.

From the ACLU’s press release:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold.

"As a matter of law and fundamental fairness, the state is obligated to extend the protections that flow from marriage to all those who celebrated their weddings last month," said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director.

The ACLU has more on the families who have joined the lawsuit. You can read more here.

Law
10:59 am
Thu May 29, 2014

DIA vows court battle to protect museum's collection, as city tries to put a price tag on it

Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts is firing back at creditors who say the city should use the museum’s assets to pay them off.

The DIA filed a formal objection to those creditors in bankruptcy court this week, just as city lawyers acknowledged an ongoing effort to put a price tag on the museum’s entire collection.

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Law
6:01 am
Wed May 28, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court ruling may pave the way for Lansing casino

In January, 2012, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans to build a 245 million dollar casino next to Lansing’s downtown convention center. But a legal challenge by the state has put those plans on hold.
Credit Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week may pave the way for casino gambling in Michigan’s capitol city.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says a $245 million casino project has been “cleared for takeoff” by the high court’s decision in a different casino case.

State officials sued to close an off-reservation casino opened by the Bay Mills tribe. But the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the state of Michigan, saying the tribe has sovereign immunity.

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Stateside
4:37 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

The number of women going to prison is rising quickly

The number of women being put behind bars is rising.
Credit Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

There's no arguing the fact that more women are being put behind bars. 

The female prison population in this country rose 646% from 1980 to 2010, largely because of drug offenses. That adds up to 112,000 women in state and federal prisons. 

So what happens once these women are paroled?

Jennifer Cobbina is an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. She's the lead author of a study on female parolees that was published in the journa Race and Justice. She joined us on Stateside.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Law
10:54 am
Tue May 27, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court rules against the state of Michigan in casino case

The high court on Monday disagreed with state officials who want to shutter the Bay Mills Indian Community's casino about 90 miles south of its Upper Peninsula reservation.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court says Michigan can't block the opening of an American Indian casino.

The high court on Monday disagreed with state officials who want to shutter the Bay Mills Indian Community's casino about 90 miles south of its Upper Peninsula reservation. Michigan argues that the tribe opened the casino in 2010 without permission from the U.S. government and in violation of a state compact.

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Law
5:31 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Report: Flint man requests new trial in Iran

Amir Hekmati was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying. Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death sentence, and the country's Revolutionary Court resentenced him to 10 years in prison for "cooperating with hostile governments"
Credit Hekmati family

DETROIT (AP) - A news agency reports that a retired U.S. Marine from Michigan has requested a new trial in Iran, where he has been imprisoned since 2011 after being accused of spying.

Thirty-one-year-old Amir Hekmati is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona and was raised in the Flint, Michigan, area.

He was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying. Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death sentence, and the country's Revolutionary Court resentenced him to 10 years in prison for "cooperating with hostile governments"

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Law
6:00 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Christian leaders speak up for same-sex marriage: "We stand with the God of compassion"

Christian leaders speak out for same-sex marriage rights at Detroit's Salem Memorial Church.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Metro Detroit clergy leaders stood together Thursday to send a clear message: They support same-sex marriage and equal rights for LGBT people.

They also strongly condemned some of their fellow Michigan Christian leaders who are fighting to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Last week, a group of about 200, mostly Michigan-based black pastors declared that “the fight is on” to protect “traditional” marriage.

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Law
8:18 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Building unions OK giving to Detroit retiree costs

On Monday, U.S. District Court released a statement from bankruptcy mediators saying that the Michigan Building and Constructions Trades council "will be participating in the so-called `grand bargain' by making material contribution toward health care costs for Detroit's retirees."
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Mediators in Detroit's federal bankruptcy case say that building trade unions have agreed to contribute to a fund to cover retirees' benefits.

Some legislative Republicans have made union contributions to the pensions a condition for state aid, designed to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection from sale to cover the costs.

A state House committee is to vote Tuesday spending $195 million to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy.

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Law
1:01 pm
Sun May 18, 2014

Flint man nears 1,000 days in an Iranian prison

Amir Hekmati will soon pass one thousand days in an Iranian prison.
Credit The Hekmati family

The family and friends of a retired U.S. Marine from Flint are taking their campaign to gain his release from an Iranian prison cell to the White House on Monday.

Iranian officials arrested Amir Hekmati nearly three years ago while he was visiting relatives.

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Law
6:36 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Campaign looks to make more Michigan immigrants U.S. citizens

Cenia Fraire talks about becoming a US citizen.
Credit via Michigan United

Immigrant advocates in southeast Michigan have launched a push to make more people US citizens.

The New Americans campaign is on the ground in eight U.S. cities, including metro Detroit.

The area is home to large numbers of people who are permanent residents, but haven’t taken the steps to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Diego Bonesatti, legal director for the pro-immigrant group Michigan United, says that’s in part because the immigration process has become a lot more complex in recent years.

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Law
8:17 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Religious groups say 'The fight is on' over same-sex marriage

Rev. Stacy Swimp leads defenders of traditional marriage First Baptist International World Changers church in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A coalition of about 200 mostly Michigan-based black pastors says “the fight is on” when it comes to same-sex marriage.

A federal judge overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has appealed that ruling, and it’s now headed to the US 6th Circuit court of appeals.

The pastors condemned the ruling in an event at First Baptist International World Changers church in Detroit Wednesday.

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Law
11:16 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Former Kent County Commissioner reaches plea deal with prosecutors in sex case

Gary Rolls (file photo)
Credit File photo / Kent County Sheriff

A former Kent County commissioner will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty this week to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors dropped four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct against former Kent County Commissioner Gary Rolls. He could’ve faced life in prison if convicted on those more serious charges.

Instead, Rolls pleaded guilty to a lesser charge plus illegal use of a computer and tampering with evidence.

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Law
5:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

New program to help families of Michigan prisoners

Credit Larry Farr / Morguefile

Helping prison officials and the families of prisoners communicate better is the goal of a pilot project at three Michigan prisons. So is providing support to the families of prisoners.

The privately funded Family Participation Program will partner with the Michigan Department of Corrections.

MDOC spokesperson Russ Marlan says it's hard for family members to negotiate the unfamiliar world of prisons. 

He said having an independent liaison for each prison will make it easier for family members to get their questions answered.

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