Law

Law
12:42 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Metro Detroit LGBT center hosts 100-day "rolling" hunger strike

Hunger Strike- Day 1
Johnny Jenkins Affirmations

Yesterday, Affirmations Lesbian/Gay Community Center in Ferndale began what they call a "rolling" hunger strike that will last until the general election in November.

Organizers say the 100-day event protests the "extreme anti-equality environment in Michigan" of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender population.

The hunger strike will be comprised of 24-hour shifts in which volunteers will refrain from eating or drinking anything but water. The strikers will be on display inside the front windows of the Affirmations building on 9 mile road.

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Law
2:47 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court rules MSU ordinance violates free speech

MSU Library
user Jeffness Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a Michigan State University ordinance is unconstitutional today.

Back in 2008, MSU law student Jared Rapp received a parking ticket on campus. Rapp reportedly yelled at the parking attendant, took his photo and demanded his name. 

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Law
4:04 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Michigan Senate panel approves anti-abortion bill

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Rick Jones
Michigan Senate Republicans

The state Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would require clinics and doctor’s offices where abortions are performed to be licensed and inspected. Critics of the bill say its real purpose is to put abortion providers out of business.

Rick Jones chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“The purpose is to make sure that clinics are licensed and safe. Certainly, a state that licenses junkyards, tattoo parlors, and used car lots would want to license abortion clinics,” he said.

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Law
4:35 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

MI Supreme Court will decide on EM law ballot challenge

Font size explained
Dario Corsi Redhead Design Studio

It’s now up to the state Supreme Court to decide whether the referendum to challenge Michigan’s emergency manager law will appear on the November ballot. The court spent 90 minutes today listening to arguments on whether a dispute over type size is enough to keep the question off the ballot.
    
John Pirich is the attorney for Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. The business-backed group is trying to knock the referendum off the ballot. Pirich says it’s not enough to trust that a computer program used by petition printers is accurately measuring type size.  

“Everyone knows what a computer can do. I can make letters get scrunched. I can make letters get elongated. They say 12-, 14-, or six-point font, whatever it might say, but that can be manipulated," he said.

Supporters of the referendum say the petitions were correctly printed in the proper font size. They also say the will of more than 200,000 petition signers should not be ignored.

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11:58 am
Wed July 25, 2012

MI Supreme Court heard arguments on EM law, petition font size today

Lead in text: 
Today, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments about the validity of Stand Up for Democracy's petition challenging the state's emergency manager law. The high court will rule on the legality of the petition's font size. So what's all the fuss about? Check out this Michigan Radio infographic breaking down the issue.
Even though they won today, the group hoping to repeal Michigan's emergency manager law could still face a legal challenge in the Michigan Supreme
Law
12:39 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Federal court reinstates lawsuit over Flagstar stock

Flagstar Bank branch in Ann Arbor
Dwight Burdette Wikimedia Commons

Some current and former employees will get another chance to pursue a lawsuit against Flagstar Bank over company stock in their retirement accounts.

A federal appeals court has reinstated the case in Detroit federal court. The Troy-based bank is blamed for offering Flagstar stock to employees at a time when the bank was in perilous shape.

Flagstar's stock price lately has been under a dollar, compared with nearly $15 in 2007. The court says the lawsuit raises a "plausible claim" that Flagstar breached its fiduciary duty to employees during that time.

The bank has said workers made their own investment decisions.

Flagstar recently announced its first profitable quarter since 2008. It has 111 branches in Michigan.

10:58 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Price fixing in Michigan land deals? Lawmakers call for action in investigation

Lead in text: 
A news investigation found two natural gas companies might have colluded when bidding on drilling rights in Michigan. Reuters obtained e-mails exchanged between officials from Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Encana Corp. The paper says the e-mails show "that top executives of the two rivals plotted in 2010 to avoid bidding against each other in a state auction and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners." State lawmakers are pushing for resolution with an investigation.
Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:03am EDT (Reuters) - Two Michigan state representatives have called on officials there to step up their investigations into possible collusion between Chesapeake Energy Corp and Encana Corp, following a Reuters report that the energy rivals plotted to avoid bidding against each other in Michigan land deals.
Law
3:44 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

Cops, former inmates unite

Detroit officers
Flickr user Miss Lauralee

A new program in Detroit is taking a creative approach to helping former inmates improve their lives. That approach involves pairing two groups of people who often don't trust one another: former inmates and police officers.

Jessica Taylor came up with the idea for the mentorship program called New Beginnings. She’s Executive Director of Chance for Life, a non-profit that helps inmates transition back into the community after they've been released.

As part of the mentorship program, officers drive the men to counseling appointments and recovery programs. They help the men obtain birth certificates and social security cards. The pairs also take part in social activities, like going to ball games.

At first, Taylor says it was a tough sell to both groups. But after a few months of spending time together, she says the men consider each other friends, and some even consider one another family.

Taylor says if you want to make communities safer, you have to engage the people who make them unsafe, and you have to involve the police. She hopes to expand the program in the near future.

Law
12:54 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Michigan motorcycle club faces a long federal indictment

User rottenhombre youtube.com

Update 12:53 p.m.

DETROIT (AP) -Federal prosecutors say they have a "staggering amount of evidence" to convict dozens of members of a Detroit-area motorcycle gang, who are accused of a violent criminal enterprise.

The government says more than dozen current or former members of the Devils Diciples are cooperating with the FBI and ready to testify at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin made the disclosure this week in a court filing that seeks to keep the group's president in custody while awaiting trial.

Mohsin says Jeff "Fat Dog" Smith is responsible for an "interstate ... rampage of drugs, violence" and other crimes. He faces a detention hearing Tuesday in Detroit federal court. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney today.

July 14, 4:10 p.m.

Forty-one members and associates of a Michigan based motorcycle club face a wide-ranging federal indictment.

The allegations in the indictment announced today include murder, illegal gambling and drug trafficking.

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11:00 am
Fri July 20, 2012

After Dark Knight shooting in Colorado, former Ann Arbor Police Chief in spotlight

Lead in text: 
Current Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates is in the spotlight after the shooting that took place this morning. Oates was Chief of Police and Safety Services Administrator for the City of Ann Arbor for four years before he left for his job in Aurora in 2005. Prior to that, Oates served in the New York Police Department for 21 years.
Note: The number of victims is now reported as 12 this morning, reduced from 14. That number was changed in this story. Former Ann Arbor Police Chief Dan Oates is in the national spotlight Friday morning after his officers in Aurora, Colo., arrested the gunman accused of killing 12 and wounding at least 50 in a theater screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Law
6:01 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Juvenile lifer ruling requires authorities to track down victims

There is some question on the reach of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says it may only apply going forward and not to the 366 juvenile lifers currently serving in Michigan prisons.

Dawn Van Hoek directs the State Appellate Defender Office, which represents some of the juvenile lifers. She disagrees and said every juvenile sentenced to life without parole should get a new hearing.

“I think they’ve already signaled, the Supreme Court has, and, you know, you have to wonder why even bother if you’re not going to apply it to the hundreds of people who were affected nationwide by these unconstitutional laws,” said Van Hoek.

That would also require the state to track down the families of murder victims who have a right under Michigan law to testify at sentencing hearings.

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Law
4:12 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Investigators say they have new evidence in the Oakland County child killings of the 1970's

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan prosecutor says investigators have DNA evidence linking the deaths of two of four children killed during a 13-month period in the 1970s.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said Tuesday that DNA tests fond hairs found during the investigation of the deaths of 11-year-old Timothy King and 12-year-old Mark Stebbins came from the same person. They're seeking tips from the public in the case.

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Law
4:52 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Flint judge sets deadline for state welfare review

Flint, Mich.
Flint Michigan Facebook.com

A judge in Flint has given the Michigan Department of Human Services until Aug. 10 to process 5,000 or more remaining applications for cash assistance from people whose benefits were ended because of a five-year federal limit.

Genesee County Circuit Judge Geoffrey Neithercut imposed the deadline today during a hearing on a complaint from the Center for Civil Justice.  The complaint accused the Michigan DHS of intentionally processing the assistance applications slowly while it waited for decisions from the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.

On June 27, the state Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan can end benefits under a five-year federal limit, even if recipients still might qualify for cash under state law.

Michigan has a four-year limit, but the state stops the clock when someone with a disability can't work or when people care for a disabled spouse or child.

The state says following the stricter federal cap could save $70 million a year.

In a press release sent out today, DHS Director Maura Corrigan said the judge's ruled window for processing applications is reasonable. She said,

We are and have been committed to complying with this court’s orders. The completion date of August 10th set forth by the court today is well within our internal timeline already in place.

MLive.com reports that the groups will return to court Aug. 20 if DHS fails to process all of the cases by the deadline.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio News

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Law
10:47 am
Sun July 15, 2012

Hutaree militia member to be sentenced on weapons charge next month

Joshua Clough (mug shot)
US Justice Department

DETROIT (AP) - Prosecutors agree that a man who was a member of a southern Michigan militia shouldn't be sent to prison when he returns to court for his sentence next month.

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Law
4:41 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Court: Gun boards can use juvenile offenses to reject permits

Mike Russell Wikimedia Commons

The state Court of Appeals says a county concealed gun board did not exceed its authority when it denied a permit based on a man’s juvenile crime record.

Jameel Stephens says the Wayne County Concealed Weapons Board should not have rejected his request for a concealed pistol permit, because he was found guilty as a juvenile of breaking and entering.
    
Stephens argued that juvenile proceedings are supposed to be shielded from that sort of decision-making. He says they are also not, officially, criminal convictions.
    
Michigan is what’s called a “shall-issue” concealed gun state. That means gun boards must approve permit requests unless there is a clear reason to deny a person.
    
The Court of Appeals says state law clearly allows gun boards to deny concealed pistol permits to people found guilty of a juvenile offense – if that offense is a felony when an adult is charged. That would include breaking and entering.

Law
4:55 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

MI Supreme Court will hear arguments on PA 4 referendum

Michigan Hall of Justice
User Xnatedawgx Wikimedia Commons

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether a referendum on Michigan’s emergency manager law should appear on the November ballot.

The arguments will take place in two weeks. A business coalition that supports the emergency manager law is trying to keep the question off the ballot.

The group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility says a section of this petition was printed in a type size that was too small, and that makes it ineligible.

The group lost before the state Court of Appeals, which said a court precedent left no choice in the matter.

Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility wants that precedent reversed. And if it wins, that decision could affect other ballot campaigns that filed this year.
       

The ballot campaign Stand Up For Democracy says there was no error. But it says even if there were, a technicality should not keep a question off the ballot after 226,000 people signed petitions supporting it.

Law
12:47 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Judge denies request to revisit dismissal of Detroit consent agreement lawsuit

An Ingham county judge has denied Detroit's top lawyer's request that he revisit his dismissal of her lawsuit challenging the city’s consent agreement with the state.

Last month, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette dismissed Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon's lawsuit challenging the authority of the consent agreement. Crittendon says it violates the Detroit charter.

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Law
4:24 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Mount Pleasant makes LGBT discrimination illegal

Gay pride flag
user Tyrone Warner Flickr

Mount Pleasant has joined the ranks of more than a dozen Michigan cities with anti-discrimination laws protecting gay, lesbian and transgender people.  Activists say it's a big step for a relatively conservative town.

The city is home to Central Michigan University, and supporters of the ordinance say it's the last big college town in the state to adopt such a law. 

Norma Bailey is with the Mount Pleasant Area Diversity group. She says the law was met with some pushback, especially from residents who wanted to ensure religious institutions would be exempted from the law.

"This process has worked beautifully to, in fact, take a conservative area and help people understand what we were talking about," she said. "This isn't about marriage. This isn't about bathrooms. This is about people having the right to have a job, housing and accommodations that are equitable with everyone else."

The city can fine violators up to $2,500.

Law
9:32 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Three things people in poverty worry about that you probably don't

Many little things can conspire to keep people from climbing out of poverty.

Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity project takes of look at some of them in his report, When Working Hard Doesn't Necessarily Get You Out of Poverty.

He writes, “life is hard for people in poverty. But, … you still have no idea what it’s like to live with poverty day after day.”

Here are three things that the average middle class person probably doesn’t worry about.

  1. "If you’ve got a college degree, and you’re on salary, would taking your daughter to school really be a major factor in losing your job?" It was for the father Dustin Dwyer spoke to in his story.
  2. Losing your kids to the foster care system, not because you do horrible things, but because you don’t have the resources.  University of Michigan law professor Vivek Sankaran says that happens more often than you'd think.
  3. Not being able to pay your parking tickets and losing your license.
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Law
1:01 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Michigan Court of Appeals to consider legal challenge to Lansing library weapons ban

Gun rights activists want to be able to openly carry firearms in Lansing area libraries. The Capital Area District Library says no.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, the Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case over whether a library can ban weapons.

The Capital Area District Library has a very simple policy:  “All weapons are banned from Library premises by the fullest extent permitted by law”

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