Law

Stories regarding the legal system

WIXOM, Mich. (AP) - The Oakland County sheriff says authorities are investigating at least 16 shootings for any common threads in many Michigan communities.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard says no one has been injured but there have been "some very close calls." He told reporters Friday that cars and people appear to be the targets. Shootings have been reported in Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties.

Bouchard says the shootings occurred Tuesday through Thursday. Someone shot at five vehicles in Wixom in just a few minutes Thursday.

An update on the public corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his dad, his friend Bobby Ferguson, and former Detroit Water and Sewerage director Victor Mercado.

The Department of Corrections is being sued over how it supervises parolees and handle parole violators.
Eddie Mingus / flickr

A lawsuit filed this week alleges the state Department of Corrections has been too lax in supervising roughly 18,000 paroled felons in Michigan.

The lawsuit was first reported by The Detroit Free Press.

It was filed by the family of an elderly Royal Oak woman who was murdered in her home. Two fugitives on parole have been charged with the killing.

Michigan Court of Appeals
Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals began hearing arguments Tuesday on a case that could determine the fate of Michigan’s “juvenile lifers.”

The case comes in the wake of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June determining  that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for minors constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

MLive’s Jonathan Oosting has more:

user elioja / Flickr

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries and growing cooperatives are on the line with two cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. The court heard arguments on those cases Thursday.

Isabella County Prosecutor Risa Scully said the medical marijuana act does not allow dispensaries where patients can share marijuana with each other.

“The act clearly delineates two methods in which a qualified patient may obtain their marijuana—they may grow it themselves or they may designate a caregiver to grow it for them,” Scully said.

southernfried / MorgueFile

Four Michigan people are suing the state to change the process used to put someone on Michigan's Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. 

The suit claims the registry is an unconstitutional and unfair blacklist of people accused by investigators of harming a child.

Attorney Elizabeth Warner represents the plaintiffs. She says some people are on the list for reporting abuse or neglect, or were victims of domestic violence. Warner says others were never notified that they were put on the list, and have never had a hearing.

ACLU

Michigan jail and prison policies that place teenage offenders in solitary confinement are getting criticized in a new report.

“Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States,” is based on research in U.S. jails and prisons in Michigan and four other states: Colorado, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania

Inventorchris / Creative Commons

Kalamazoo’s Public Safety Department is conducting a study to see if its officers unfairly target racial and ethnic minorities.

The study is not being court ordered, the city isn’t being sued, and there hasn’t been any big incident that sparked the study. Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley says that’s a good thing.

“These types of issues can bring a lot of emotion… and it makes it a lot more difficult to talk reasonably and to talk productively and constructively in how we move forward,” Hadley said.

Hadley says the department wants to try to avoid problems and they’re hoping the study will help.

“Spending money on this type of study I think is really an investment into our relationship with the community; and how important they are in how we operate as a public safety department and how we keep this city safe,” Hadley said.

The leader of another Michigan business is suing the federal government over provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

John Kennedy, CEO of Kentwood-based Autocam Automotive, filed a complaint in a federal court in Grand Rapids Monday. In it, he says his company shouldn’t have to provide employees with health insurance that includes contraception coverage he considers “intrinsically wrong and gravely sinful”.

Ken Mayer / flickr

The Muskegon Correctional Facility has reopened and will employ 240 people.

That is freeing up space for inmates in other parts of the state.

Michigan began closing prisons in 2007 as part of budget cuts. The Muskegon Correctional Facility was shut down in 2009.

Now the 1,300 bed, medium-security facility is open again and the state has begun transferring inmates from other places—mostly from the Ryan Correction Facility in Detroit.

Russ Marlan is a Department of Corrections spokesman.

The Michigan Supreme Court opens its 2012 session this week.
Subterranean / Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court formally opens its 2012 session this week.

Its first cases deal with no-fault insurance benefits, Michigan’s open meetings law, and medical marijuana.      

The first arguments of the court’s session will be on the case of a woman who wants her auto no-fault coverage to pay for her treatments for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She was diagnosed after witnessing her son’s death in a motorcycle accident. She was following him in her car when he was struck by another vehicle.

Booking photo of stabbing suspect Elias Abuelazam
Arlington, Virginia Police Department

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A man charged in a series of stabbings in a Michigan city in 2010 will face no additional trials unless his first murder conviction is overturned on appeal.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton says two murder cases and six attempted murder cases will be suspended against Elias Abuelazam. The action was disclosed Friday at a court in Flint.

Leyton says additional trials would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Abuelazam, a native of Israel, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after a first murder trial last spring.

People convicted of first-degree murder in Michigan are automatically entitled to an appeal. Abuelazam's is in the early stages.

Abuelazam defense attorney Ed Zeineh called the prosecutor's decision appropriate.

An attempted murder case is pending in Ohio.

Broneah Inc.'s trademark on the M-22 highway route marker.
USPTO

Several weeks ago I posted on the debate taking place over the trademark owned by brothers Matt and Keegan Myers.

They've captured the love people have for northwest Michigan and Leelanau County with their M-22 business.

M-22 has been a success, but they've also been working to keep others from selling stuff emblazoned with a Michigan state road sign symbol.

DETROIT (AP) — The new Detroit Crime Commission is getting a $1 million federal grant to help fight crime on the city's east side.

The money will be used to develop a "data-driven approach" to identify issues fueling crime. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says she's putting an assistant prosecutor in place to concentrate on Detroit's east side.

U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., will present a symbolic check to the Detroit Crime Commission on Tuesday. The commission is a nonprofit group formed last year to act as a liaison between the public and law enforcement agencies.

It is staffed by retired law enforcers and led by Andrew Arena, the former head of the Detroit FBI.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More and more Michigan ex-cons are killing people after they leave prison, a problem that the state Department of Corrections and its employees union blame on each other.

The Detroit Free Press says 88 probationers or parolees committed 95 homicides in 2010 through Aug. 31, 2012. Ex-cons under state supervision killed 21 people in 2010, 38 in 2012 and 36 in the first eight months of 2012.

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan inmate who blamed prison officials for his bad teeth has another cavity to fill: a $353 bill for his failed lawsuit.

A judge has ordered Jerry Flanory to pay for transcript costs, copy fees and a nominal $20 for the state's cost of the one-day trial. The money will go to the state of Michigan.

Flanory claimed his teeth and gums suffered because he was cut off from toothpaste at a prison in the Upper Peninsula. The state denied the allegations and said the Flint man had only five teeth when he entered prison.

Thousands of state employees are applauding a judge’s ruling that they shouldn't be forced to pay for their pension benefits.

An Ingham County Circuit Court judge said today that a rule requiring state employees cough up four-percent of their salaries to keep their pensions is unconstitutional.

She said it’s effectively a pay cut, something only the Michigan Civil Service Commission has the authority to enact.

Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000, the largest state employee union in Michigan.

southernfried / MorgueFile

Organized gangs that steal from retail stores in Michigan are not only driving up prices, they're putting the public at risk. 

taliesin / MorgueFile

A Michigan judge has ruled a case against the Boy Scouts of America can go ahead.

In 2009, an assistant Scoutmaster with the Chief Okemos Council, which serves Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties, was accused of molesting two Scouts.  

Roger Young was charged with criminal sexual assault and possession of child pornography. He committed suicide later that year.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Holland minister who’s been pushing for equal protection for gay, bisexual and transgender people says he’ll consider staging another protest. That’s in spite of a jury this week convicting him of trespassing for his first protest.

Reverend Bill Freeman is upset Holland City Council voted not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination laws. One night last October Freeman decided to occupy city hall to try to get city council to change its mind and join more than a dozen other Michigan cities with similar laws. He was arrested for trespassing when the building was closed that evening.

“It’s time for the City of Holland to join the 21st century,” Freeman said, referencing changes to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and President Obama’s recent support of gay marriage. “The City of Holland knows what the right thing is and that is not to allow discrimination of anybody,” Freeman added.

Natalie Kolb / Image used with permission of The State News

Update: September 27, 2012 1:15 pm 

The Ingham county prosecutor won't press any charges in the alleged assault and hate crime involving MSU student Zachary Tennen - and Tennen's family supports that call.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — No charges will be brought following an investigation into an assault on a Michigan State University student who claimed he was punched and had his jaw broken because he's Jewish, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - After a day off, the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has resumed with a former state senator in the witness chair.

Prosecutors on Thursday asked former Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow about approving state grants in 2000 when Kilpatrick was a member of the House.

The government alleges that Kilpatrick illegally funneled tax dollars to his pal, Bobby Ferguson. Kilpatrick, his father, Ferguson and the city's former water boss are charged with a racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.

The government's main claim is that Kilpatrick received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash through bribery, extortion and other methods when he was mayor, from 2002 to fall 2008. He resigned four years ago in another scandal and now lives in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Republican state Representative Bob Genetski
Photo courtesy of Rep. Genetski's office

A jury has found Rep. Bob Genetski (R-Saugatuck) guilty for driving drunk earlier this year in East Lansing.

Genetski's defense was that blood alcohol tests were conducted improperly. The jury sided with the prosecution.

More on today's verdict from the Holland Sentinel:

Rep. Bob Genetski's face betrayed no emotion as the jury foreman said "guilty," the one-word verdict in his drunken driving trial.

Genetski was whisked away immediately to fulfill requirements of probation until his sentence is handed down by East Lansing District Judge David Jordon. The judge ordered Genetski to set up a substance abuse screening schedule.

The lawmaker will not be talking to the media, according to his attorney, Mike Nichols.

Genetski is campaigning for a third term in Michigan's House of Representatives.

The Sentinel reports Genetski faces "having up to 6 points added to his driving record;" a $1,000 annual driver responsibility fee for two years; and being ordered to community service.

Tom Varco / Wikimedia commons

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is asking, "Got Drugs?"

As part of a "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day" the Michigan State Police and the DEA will collect accumulated unwanted, or unused prescription drugs. The goal is to safely dispose of the medications.

State police say the service is free and anonymous, and drugs may be dropped off without questions.

Drop spots will include 29 state police posts.

You can find the drop off locations here.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The DEA says this is the fifth "Take Back Day" they have organized. Last April, the agency says "a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons)" of unwanted or expired medications were turned in for disposal.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart says the effort is part of the fight against prescription drug abuse.

"While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities. Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new piece of equipment may soon help Michigan State Police catch online child predators.

Detective Sergeant Jay Poupard has spent years tracking online child predators for the Michigan State Police.

He says the way predators try to contact children online has been changing, from direct contact to harder to trace indirect methods, like file sharing.

“It hasn’t decreased. It’s just moved into another part of the virtual world,” says Poupard.

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Operators of a Haiti orphanage are suing journalist Mitch Albom and one of his charities, claiming the best-selling author broke terms of an agreement about running the orphanage after the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

The Caring and Sharing Mission charity and its Inkster, Michigan founder, the Reverend John Hearn, filed a lawsuit in a Pontiac court this week claiming the Detroit Free Press columnist and his A Hole in the Roof Foundation didn't follow an operating agreement they entered into with the Port-au-Prince mission after the quake.

A screenshot from the cell phone video which shows Milton Hall being shot and killed by Saginaw Police officers.
CNN

Earlier this month it was announced the Saginaw police officers who shot and killed a homeless, mentally ill man would not face criminal charges. 49-year-old Milton Hall was killed by Saginaw Police July 1, after police say he refused to drop a knife. Six officers fired several dozen shots at Hall.

Now we hear that some officers will be disciplined internally by the Saginaw Police Department.

Kate Wells

Justice still hasn’t been done in the case of a fatal police shooting of a mentally ill man in Saginaw this summer.

That was the message at a community forum this week, where some 200 residents came out to express frustration with local law enforcement, and with the county prosecutor for declining to press criminal charges against the officers. 

Among the mostly African American crowd at the forum, the primary question seemed to be: why was so much lethal force used on July 1st, the day Milton Hall was shot by police 11 times?

DETROIT (AP) - Defense lawyers in the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are objecting to news coverage and asking a judge to move the case out of town.

The attorneys cited a story Monday in the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper said a juror in a recent trial involving Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson didn't disclose certain information about herself.

Ferguson's lawyer, Gerald Evelyn, said Tuesday that the story was an "outrage" and would intimidate jurors in the Kilpatrick case. Jury selection is expected to end this week.

Judge Nancy Edmunds says the story was distressing, but she isn't stopping jury selection. Free Press attorney Herschel Fink says the remarks by defense lawyers are "self-serving."

Kilpatrick is on trial with Ferguson, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and former water boss Victor Mercado.

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - An FBI sting operation has led to corruption charges against a former Pontiac city council member.

Federal authorities say Everett Seay accepted $25,000 from a man who needed city approval to open a money-handling business in Pontiac. The government says Seay was told the shop would be used to launder drug profits.

Seay also is accused of helping transport 35 pounds of cocaine for $15,000. The cocaine was fake, and the man who wanted to open a money-handling business actually was an undercover agent. The alleged crimes occurred in 2008 and 2009 when Seay was on the Pontiac council.

Seay was due in court Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment. Two other people also were charged.

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