Law

Law
6:23 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Kalamazoo non-profit tries to help answer questions about deferred deportation option

A non-profit organization in Kalamazoo is trying to help young undocumented immigrants sort through a new federal process that could prevent them from getting deported.

The director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the process earlier this month.

Lori Mercedes is the Executive Director of the Kalamazoo-based Hispanic American Council. She says many immigrants have been calling with questions about the process but are nervous about exposing their legal status.

“This brought it up to the light and forced a conversation about it. It made it into an issue; now we have to talk about it,” Mercedes said. “It’s exciting…we can tell our kids go ahead and dream and have hope. There is hope for you after all.”

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Law
11:27 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Inmates in Oakland County jail released due to overcrowding

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says releasing more than 200 prisoners from the overcrowded  County Jail could have been avoided,  if judges had used alternative sentencing.

He  tells The Detroit News he sent a letter to judges earlier this month, notifying them of the "jail emergency and asking for cooperation to help avoid it."

Michigan law requires sentence reductions if prisoners don't pose a high risk.

Bouchard says beds are being used by inmates who don't need to be in jail, and could have been punished differently, avoiding the problem.

Law
10:30 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Pastor in West Michigan accused of embezzling more than $100,000

MLive reports the Pastor of a church with around 750 members confessed to turning in receipts for reimbursement that were never approved.

More from MLive:

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3:26 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Michigan inmate challenges former governor Granholm's commutation reversal

Lead in text: 
A fascinating story about a last second reversal by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. At the end of her term as governor in 2010, Granholm had signed an order commuting Matthew Makowski's sentence of life without parole. Makowski was convicted of first degree murder for setting up a robbery of a co-worker in 1988. But after she was contacted by the victim's family, Granholm reversed her order. Now lawyers are arguing whether she had the authority to rescind her original order.
LANSING, Mich. - Three days before Christmas 2010, a Michigan inmate got a remarkable gift: Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she would commute his life sentence for first-degree murder, ensuring his release after two decades in prison for setting up a robbery that led to the fatal stabbing of a co-worker.
Law
5:01 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Bing hopes judge will lift injunction on 12-hour police shifts

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor's Office City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says a judge’s order blocking 12-hour shifts for police officers will make it harder to balance the budget and keep the city safe.

"Absolutely. No doubt about it," he said. "I think some of the initiatives that we were putting forward was for two different reasons – once again, to make sure we stay within our budget, but also to keep as many police officers on the street as we possibly could and keeping them in the neighborhoods. So this doesn’t help."

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Law
4:49 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Michigan Court of Appeals to hear worker rights proposal

Michigan Hall of Justice where arguments will be heard in the Court of Appeals next week.
User Xnatedawgx Wikimedia Commons

More ballot measure news today as Michigan voters face a November election that will likely include  about a half a dozen ballot measures.

The Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments next week from supporters and opponents of a ballot measure that seeks to add collective bargaining rights for workers into the state constitution.

A group called Protect Our Jobs collected nearly 700,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution challenged the petition, saying the ballot proposal was unconstitutionally broad.

In an order released today, the court says oral arguments in the case will be heard Wednesday in Lansing.

An appeal to the court was made after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 this week on the Protect Our Jobs ballot proposal.

Law
10:48 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Michigan Court: Teachers deduction for retiree health care unconstitutional

Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled unconstitutional a state law forcing school employees to pay 3 percent of their salary toward retiree health care.

A copy of Thursday's 2-1 ruling was released Friday.

The contribution was put into place in 2010, and unions representing teachers filed suit. In 2011, retired Ingham County Circuit Judge James Giddings, who was hearing the case before he stepped down and returned to finish the job, ruled that school employees were paying into a system that may not ultimately benefit them.

The contribution was instituted as part of an effort to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the state. MLive.com reports some unions want the money to be refunded.

Law
10:04 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Former assistant state attorney ordered to pay $4.5M to gay U-M student

Andrew Shirvell

DETROIT (AP) - A jury has awarded a gay University of Michigan student body president $4.5 million in his lawsuit against a former Michigan assistant attorney general who posted about him in an anti-gay blog.

The U.S. District Court jury in Detroit ruled Thursday in favor of Christopher Armstrong. He claims he suffered distress after a blog created by Andrew Shirvell accused him of enticing minors with alcohol and recruiting people to become homosexual.

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Law
2:52 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Benton Harbor tickets protestors for being too noisy, ACLU asks judge to dismiss

Sean Crawford was ticketed for violating Benton Harbor's noise ordinance during a protest in May. He pictured here with the sign and bike horn he used during the protest.
ACLU

The ACLU is asking a Berrien County judge to dismiss charges against three protestors who were ticketed for being too noisy during the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor last May.

The three were taking part in a larger protest against the golf championship, the development of a city park, and the city’s emergency manager.

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Law
11:47 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Michigan Court of Appeals: Casino ballot initiative is 'unconstitutional'

user clarita MorgueFile.com

This morning, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled a ballot initiative that would approve eight more private casinos in the state will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The court ruled the ballot proposal is unconstitutional.

MLive reports that Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch broke the news on his Twitter account this morning.

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11:23 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Kilpatrick must keep lawyer, judge rules today

Lead in text: 
The much anticipated public corruption trial against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, former Detroit Sewer and Water chief Victor Mercado, and contractor Bobby Ferguson is expected to start next month. Jury selection is underway, and today a judge refused to provide Kilpatrick with a new lawyer, someone Kilpatrick says he loves, but does not trust.
Detroit- Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could learn Tuesday whether he needs to replace his taxpayer-funded legal team, a move that likely would delay his upcoming City Hall corruption trial. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds scheduled a 9:30 a.m. hearing to probe a conflict of interest involving his lawyer James C. Thomas.
Law
5:01 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Michigan House Panel to assess state's fireworks law

user hanabi MorgueFile.com

A state House panel will look at how Michigan’s new fireworks law is working, and could recommend changes.

There have been complaints about loud explosions late into the night since the law was passed earlier this year.

State Representative Harold Haugh wrote the law, which allows retailers who buy a license to sell more-powerful fireworks. It also preempts any local fireworks bans on the day before, the day of, and the day after 10 national holidays.

Haugh says the law is a success, and it does not stop local governments from enforcing noise ordinances.

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Law
3:58 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Appeals Court: Sexually abused female prisoners must pay debts before collecting settlement money

Michigan Court of Appeals
user BotMultichill Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals says women who were sexually abused in state prisons must pay the victim restitution and child support they owe before collecting settlement money from their class-action suit.

A three-judge appeals court panel ruled today that an order protecting the names of the women who sued should remain in effect.

But the court also says that where there's a conflict between protecting the women's identities and making sure that they pay victim restitution and child support, the courts must make sure the debts get paid.

Law
8:53 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Effort to decriminalize marijuana possession in Grand Rapids turns in thousands of signatures

Organizers turned in a box full of petitions with 10,226 signatures to the Grand Rapids city clerk's office on Monday afternoon.
Tyler Nickerson Decriminalize GR

A group that’s trying to make marijuana possession in the City of Grand Rapids only a civil infraction turned in more than enough signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.

The group modeled the proposed changes to Grand Rapids’ city charter after Ann Arbor’s. In Ann Arbor, fines for marijuana possession start at just $25 and are not more $100.

Tyler Nickerson is with the group known as Decriminalize GR. It collected more than 10,000 signatures during the petition drive.

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Law
5:31 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Domestic partners head to court for health benefits

Peter Ways, Joe Breakey and daughter Aliza. The picture is part of a press release from the ACLU
http://www.aclumich.org/michiganfamilies ACLU

Five gay and lesbian couples head to federal court in Detroit on Tuesday. They're fighting to win back health coverage for domestic partners of public employees.

One of the couples is Peter Ways and his partner, Joe Breakey. Peter works for the Ann Arbor school district, which like other local public employers, isn't allowed to cover the domestic partners of their staff.

That's thanks to a recent state law. Proponents say the law could save the state several million dollars each year. But the ACLU says it's unconstitutional. 

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Law
2:05 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Kilpatrick case jurors' identities will be kept from public

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Dave Hogg Wikimedia Commons

A judge says the names and hometowns of jurors will only be known by lawyers in the upcoming corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds says she's concerned about the privacy of jurors. At a hearing today, she said jurors will be identified in court by a number in place of their names to everyone except the lawyers.

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Law
12:20 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Flint's City Council President will oppose a new emergency manager

Scott Kincaid, Flint City Council President
City of Flint CityOfFlint.com

Flint's City Council President opposes the appointment of a new emergency manager for his city.

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Law
11:39 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Feds want southern Michigan militia leader to serve prison time

David Stone Sr.
U.S. Marshall Service

DETROIT (AP) - Prosecutors are urging a judge to send the leader of a southern Michigan militia to prison for possessing a machine gun and other illegal weapons.

David Stone is returning to Detroit federal court next week. In March, he and other members of the Hutaree were cleared of conspiring to rebel against the government, but Stone pleaded guilty to a gun crime.

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Law
4:00 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

MI Supreme Court approves EM Law referendum for Nov. ballot

Michigan Hall of Justice
Subterranean Wikimedia Commons

Update Aug. 3 4:00 p.m.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon said at a press conference following the Supreme Court ruling, that putting the Emergency Manager referendum on the ballot means the state will have to revert to previous legislation about Emergency Financial Managers.

Dillon says the current Emergency Managers running cities in Michigan will all be re-appointed except for Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown.

Brown has served as Mayor of Flint within the last five years, and is not eligible to be an Emergency Manager under the old law.

Dillon says the state will name a new Emergency Manager for Flint.

Aug. 3 1:30 p.m.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered the referendum on the state’s emergency manager law onto the November ballot.

A divided court ruled the ballot campaign’s petitions met the letter of the law, that the type on a critical portion of the petition was, in fact, 14 points, which is what the law requires.

The Supreme Court decision requires a state elections board to put the challenge to the emergency manager law on the November ballot.

At that point, the emergency manager law is suspended, but what happens next is not certain. In a statement today, Gov. Rick Snyder said:

While I fully support the right of all citizens to express their views, suspension of the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act may adversely affect Michigan communities and school districts mired in financial emergencies. It promises to make eventual solutions to those emergencies more painful.

One of the act’s primary goals is to identify financial emergencies before they become full-blown crises. Suspending the law limits the state’s ability to offer early intervention and assistance, and eliminates important tools that emergency managers need to address financial emergencies as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This is critical given the state’s responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, regardless of the city in which they live or the school district they attend.

Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette say the old emergency manager law is resurrected -- the seven emergency managers currently serving will continue, but with diminished authority.

The referendum drive says otherwise – that there is no emergency manager law, and the emergency managers are out of a job.

It could take another court fight – or extraordinary action by the Legislature to settle the question.

Others have also released statements on the ruling:

  • American Federation of Teachers Michigan President David Hecker:

The Michigan Supreme Court has listened to reason and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who signed petitions calling for the repeal of PA4. Michigan voters know that the Legislature granted extreme powers to unelected Emergency Managers in this bill, and deserve the right to vote on this issue in November.

  • Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:

We respect the Michigan Supreme Court’s opinion, protecting the constitutional right of citizens to use the petition process. However, the Financial Stability Agreement (FSA) remains in effect and is still a critical tool to help fiscally stabilize the city...

The Financial Advisory Board will also remain in tact as will its oversight function to make sure the City is moving forward in restructuring. The court’s decision is not expected to affect the bond issue we need to maintain the city’s cash flow, and the city must complete the bond issue to fund city operations. The bottom line is the City’s fiscal challenges remain, and Public Act 4 was one tool to help us.  Without P.A.4, we will continue to execute our fiscal restructuring plan.

  • Flint Mayor Dayne Walling:

The legal decision does not change anything about the City of Flint's finances, however. It is my hope that there can be cooperation at all levels in the public and private sectors to address the deep rooted challenges we face in Michigan's communities. This is a time when we need to stop fighting over control and instead work together in equal cooperation.

Law
6:30 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Federal court allows Nativity scene on public highway

Example of a creche, though not the one displayed in Macomb county

A Macomb County man has the right to display a Nativity scene in a public road median. That’s according to a federal appeals court ruling. It reverses a Detroit judge’s decision.

John Satawa's family has been displaying a crèche in this busy highway median every Christmas for decades. But the county asked him to take it down when it got complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  Satawa sued, and now the federal appeals court is siding with him.

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