Law

Law
4:38 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Judge decides not to rule today on Michigan's gay marriage ban

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman decided not to rule on Michigan's gay marriage ban this morning.

He said he wanted to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage.

Rick Pluta was at today’s hearing in Detroit and he joined to talk about this surprise decision.

He talked with us about the takeaway from today's hearing.

Law
3:49 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Meet the man behind the bear cub bill

Dean Oswald
oswaldsbearranch.com

The Michigan House approved a bill Thursday to allow tourists to come in close contact with bear cubs.

The bill only really affects one bear sanctuary in the Upper Peninsula.

Meet Don Oswald of the Oswald Bear Ranch.

“I have 31 bears here right now. They’re my babies,” Oswald said.

You can find YouTube videos of Oswald bottle feeding his “babies,” usually given to him after their mother bears are killed in logging or cars accidents.

He says he’s gotten about a dozen bears from state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan; from Ohio, Minnesota, New York and South Dakota. Some come from breeders who can’t sell the bears, Oswald said.

“If I don’t have them they’re going to be euthanized,” Oswald explained.

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Breaking
10:20 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Court decision on Michigan's same-sex marriage ban will wait

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer with their kids.
Rowse/DeBoer

This morning, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman heard arguments for and against Michigan's 2004 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions.

There was some speculation that Judge Friedman could rule on the case today.

Instead he decided to wait before issuing his decision.

He said he wanted to wait to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on two cases dealing with same-sex marriage. Those cases are set to be heard later this month.

MPRN's Rick Pluta was at the hearing this morning and live tweeted the hearing.

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Law
4:56 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

The ACLU wants to know what some Michigan law enforcement agencies are doing with military equipment

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking police departments in Michigan for information about their use of military-style weapons and tactics.

The ACLU sent public records requests this week to police departments in Detroit, Flint and Dearborn, as well as the Michigan State Police.   Similar requests were sent to cities in 22 other states.

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Law
2:38 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Live from Michigan's Supreme Court

Michigan's Supreme Court now streams oral arguments.
Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan’s Supreme Court is now streaming oral arguments live on the web.

The court has been broadcasting its caseload since 1996 through Michigan Government Television.  When that service stopped in December, the court decided streaming was the right solution.

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Law
6:39 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Stateside: Snyder appoints new justice to state Supreme Court

Newly appointed Michigan Supreme Court Judge, David Viviano
http://www.macombcountymi.gov

Governor Snyder has appointed a new Justice to the state Supreme Court.

The appointment comes after former Justice Diane Hathaway resigned last month after being indicted for bank fraud.

For many Court watchers, Chief Judge of the Macomb County Circuit David Viviano is a surprise pick.

Rick Pluta,  Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network was at the announcement. He spoke with us to tell us more about Judge Viviano.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

Law
3:28 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Michigan Court of Appeals rules against former school teacher, who was fired after reporting abuse

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals has tossed a big jury award in a former Detroit school teacher's whistleblower lawsuit.

In 2004, Beverly Garvin claims a fourth grade student told her that two boys had forced her to perform oral sex. Garvin says she reported the alleged assault to her superiors and nothing happened. Garvin says when she persisted, including contacting police, she was transferred and eventually fired. 

A jury awarded Garvin $750 thousand in damages. 

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Law
11:19 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Michigan locking up fewer kids, but is that good enough?

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Fewer teens and kids are incarcerated now in Michigan than fifteen years ago. A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says youth incarceration in the state has dropped 44 percent since 1997.

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Law
12:20 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Michigan Governor rejects Flint crime fighting proposal

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Flint consistently makes the list as one of the country's most violent.

Genessee County  Sheriff Robert Pickell says he has a plan to cut down on crime in Flint, but it would cost $3 million. That's $3 million Pickell would like from the state.

Ron Fonger of the Flint Journal reports Gov. Snyder has rejected Pickell's plan:

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Law
11:05 am
Mon February 25, 2013

City of Warren wins appeal over Christmas display

Christmas display flicker.com user ub1

WARREN, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled against a group that wanted to add an anti-religion message to a Christmas display at Warren city hall.

The court says the Warren mayor did nothing illegal when he refused to post a sign that said, "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell."

The Freedom from Religion Foundation of Madison, Wis., sued Warren in 2011. The Detroit suburb displays secular and religious symbols between Thanksgiving and Christmas, including a nativity scene, Santa Claus house and sleigh.

The appeals court said Monday that Warren's display is not an illegal endorsement of religion. The court says the city is not required to "add all comers to the mix."

Law
8:54 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Michigan hospital, nurses settle discrimination suit

Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A Michigan hospital has settled a lawsuit that accused it of agreeing to a man's request that no black nurses care for his newborn.

Hurley Medical Center and four nurses who sued said Friday the lawsuit was "amicably resolved."

The Flint hospital says the conduct wasn't consistent with hospital policies and that it "fundamentally opposes" racial discrimination.

The suit was filed by nurse Tonya Battle, who alleged a note was posted on an assignment clipboard reading, "No African American nurse to take care of baby.

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Law
7:08 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Group wants Michigan judge's Facebook ruling overturned

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - A consumer advocacy group objects to a judge ordering a Detroit area man to remove comments critical of a restaurant class-action lawsuit on his Facebook page.

Public Citizen said Friday that Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen Macdonald's ruling violates the First Amendment. The group filed a motion to have the injunction removed.

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2:36 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Jury deciding whether Kilpatrick met the definition of extortion

Lead in text: 
The jury is in its fourth day of deliberations in the Kwame Kilpatrick public corruption trial. The Detroit Free Press takes a look at what the jurors are grappling with. The biggest charge against the three is violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer argued throughout his public corruption trial that the former Detroit mayor never demanded anything from anyone. Defense attorneys argued the same for his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, saying he never demanded anything from businessmen who were trying to land city deals -- and he even got stiffed by some of them.
Law
4:18 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

ACLU says Michigan law enforcement agencies need a uniform policy on the use of tasers

A handheld stun gun which discharges high-voltages to penetrate clothing, followed by low-voltages to cause Neuromuscular Incapacitation.
user Rama / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is raising questions about how Michigan police officers and sheriff’s deputies use tasers.

Tasers have become an important tool for law enforcement agencies across Michigan.    The devices are used to incapacitate individuals with a high voltage electric shock.

But the ACLU says there is not a uniform policy among Michigan law enforcement agencies for when to use a taser.

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Law
3:53 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Michigan company caught 'dumping' Chinese honey in the U.S.

A bottle of Groeb Farms honey (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Michigan company has been charged in a scheme federal officials have dubbed ‘Honeygate.’

Michigan-based Groeb Farms is one of the nation’s largest honey suppliers.   The company buys honey in 42 states and around the world.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Groeb Farms and another honey supplier were involved in a scheme to dump Chinese honey in the United States. 

Federal officials say the Chinese honey was declared as other commodities and shipped through third countries. The defendants in the investigation dubbed "Project Honeygate" are accused of evading anti-dumping duties totaling more than $180 million.

Groeb Farms has agreed to pay a $2 million fine. 

“We take full responsibility for and deeply regret any errors that were made in the past regarding the import of honey,” said Groeb Farms CEO Rolf Richter in a written statement. 

Some of the honey contained antibiotics not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in honey.   None of the charges allege any instances of illness or other public health consequences attributed to consumption of the honey.

The investigation is continuing.

Law
3:49 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

State House panel moves to keep legal blood alcohol limit at .08

State House panel moved to keep legal blood alcohol limit at .08
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Bills to keep Michigan’s legal blood alcohol limit for drivers at point-zero-eight are getting little to no opposition in the state Legislature. A House panel today unanimously approved the legislation.

Without it, the state’s legal limit would revert to .10 in October. That’s when the law that sets it at .08 expires.

Republican state Representative Andrea LaFontaine says it’s common sense legislation.

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Law
3:39 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Despite judge’s approval, Grand Rapids waits to decriminalize marijuana

Protestors circled Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth's office in December, demanding respect for 'proposal 2'.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The City of Grand Rapids is waiting before it implements a charter amendment that decriminalizes marijuana possession. Voters passed the initiative last November.

But the Kent County prosecutor is suing the city to prevent it from taking effect. The prosecutor argues it’s against state and federal laws for Grand Rapids police officers to issue only a civil infraction for marijuana possession. It would be sort of like a parking ticket. Ann Arbor has had similar rules for decades.

The prosecutor tried to get a restraining order to stop the city’s administration from implementing the charter, while the judge heard the merits of the case.

But Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan said it was okay for the city to make the change before he decides the case. Sullivan declined the restraining order because he said the prosecutor couldn’t prove it would cause any immediate harm.

Mayor George Heartwell, one of a few elected city leaders who supported the charter change, said he was “pleased” by that ruling. In late January, Heartwell said the city would implement the change within about a month.

But now, Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom says the city will wait for a decision on the actual merits of the case.

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Law
12:10 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Michigan drivers with no child safety seat may pay up

Child safety seat.
Miki Yoshihito Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan drivers may no longer be let off the hook if child passengers aren't in a safety seat.

Violators now can avoid up to $103 in fines and court costs if they buy a child safety seat before the court appearance date on their citation.

But under a bill passed 35-1 by the state Senate on Wednesday, judges would no longer be required to waive the court penalties. Supporters say repeat offenders aren't buying car seats in good faith.

The legislation specifically addresses violators of a requirement to secure children under age 4 in a safety seat. Michigan also requires children under age 8 to be in a booster seat.

The bill was sent to the House for its consideration.

Law
4:58 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

State House approves bill to add more people to sex offender registry

Michigan State Police

People convicted of crimes such as possessing child pornography and indecent exposure might soon be added to the state’s public sex offender registry.

Lawmakers in the state House today voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation.

Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin was one of only three votes against it. He admits it’s not a popular position to take.

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Law
4:43 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

National Action Network to rally over 'no-black-nurses' lawsuit

Hurley Medical Center in Flint (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Update 4:43 p.m.

The CEO of the Hurley Medical Center in Flint denied accusations that it kept black nurses from caring for an infant after a father made a request to do so.

From the Flint Journal:

Hurley CEO Melany Gavulic said the father was informed that his request could not be granted...

Gavulic said the request was not granted and that all nurses remained available to care for his baby.

“We (Hurley) value the support of the patients who entrust us with their care and the dedication of our physicians and staff,” she said. “This includes nurse Battle and her quarter century of professionalism and dedication.”

Gavulic declined to comment or answer questions regarding the lawsuit.

11:24 a.m.

The Flint Journal's Ron Fonger reports that Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) will hold a rally today outside the emergency room of the Hurley Medical Center in Flint.

The  Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the Michigan chapter of NAN, said the Hurley story is being watched across the nation.

"There is growing concern around the country about how this could be in 2013," Williams said today. "There will be growing pressure as Hurley continues to be quiet."

The group is protesting the treatment of an African-American nurse who claims she was barred from treating an infant after the father made a request that no black nurses be allowed to treat his child.

The Flint Journal reports the incident occurred last fall. The suit claims the father went to the nurse's supervisor with the request.

The father, who is not named in the suit, told the supervisor that he did not want an African American nurse taking care of his baby, the suit alleges. The father allegedly rolled up his sleeve and showed a tattoo that was believed to be a swastika while talking with the supervisor, the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, the supervisor then reassigned the infant to a different nurse.

On Nov. 1, 2012, a decision was made to grant the father's request that no African American nurses care for his child, the suit alleges.

In a statement, Hurley Medical Center says it "does not comment on past or current litigation."

Robin Erb of the Detroit Free Press spoke with legal scholars about the case.

Requesting care based on religious principles or sex appears to be requests hospitals try to accommodate, but others draw the line on requests based on race.

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