Law

Law
5:25 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

State board says PTSD patients should be able to use medical marijuana

A state board says OK to medical marijuana for PTSD, but rejects it for bipolar disorder and insomnia.
User Eljoja Flickr

Dakota Serna served in the Marines during the Iraq War. He says memories of seeing friends and children killed left him suicidal after he came home. Serna says the only thing that has helped him get his life back on track is using marijuana.  

But that puts him on the wrong side of the law as it is currently written.

“Somebody on paper can say that I’m a criminal,” said Serna. “Somebody can come to my house and try to put me in handcuffs. But I’m not a criminal.”

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Law
5:21 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

State Senate votes to ban e-cigarette sales to minors

Credit Lauri Rantala / Wikimedia Commons

It could soon be illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to children in Michigan. The state Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday meant to keep the smokeless devices out of the hands of minors.

So-called “e-cigarettes” deliver a nicotine-laced vapor, but don’t contain tobacco. That means the state cannot currently regulate them along with regular cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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Stateside
4:50 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Changes may come for more than 350 juvenile lifers here in Michigan

Inmates in Michigan's county jails could be housed in smaller cells under a bill passed by the Michigan house this week.
rollingroscoe Morguefile

Life without parole used to be the automatic sentence for juveniles who were tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder. That was until 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that automatic life without parole for juveniles was unconstitutional.
 
But a question remains: What happens to the more than 350 juvenile lifers here in Michigan who were sent to prison before the decision?

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments on that question today, and our Lansing Bureau Chief of the Michigan Public Radio Network, Rick Pluta, was in the courtroom.

*Listen to our interview above.

Law
6:06 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Detroit mayor steps up pressure on scrap metal bills

There are competing bills to regulate scrap metal yards in Michigan.
loopkid Flickr

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan hopes to renew state lawmakers’ interest in curbing scrap metal theft across the state. Duggan met with Democrats and Republicans in the state House on Wednesday.  

He wants to make sure the House does not approve a Senate version of legislation that he says does not go far enough to crack down on illegal scrap metal sales.

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Law
5:02 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Eco-protesters get probation in Enbridge pipeline protest

Protester Barbara Carter hugs a supporter after leaving the Ingham County jail. She and her fellow defendents were sentenced to 13 months probation.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A judge has sentenced a trio of environmental activists to probation for their role in an oil pipeline protest near Stockbridge last July.

The protesters attached themselves to heavy equipment at the Enbridge pipeline work site.  They were convicted of trespassing and obstruction in January. 

The protesters could have faced up to two years in prison.

Protester Vicci Hamlin says she remains committed to the fight against Canadian tar sands oil. 

“I think that the more people that risk going to jail the more that things will change,” says Hamlin.

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Law
8:58 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Effort underway to regulate e-cigarettes

Lauri Rantala Wikimedia Commons

There’s a movement in Lansing to regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes. The smokeless devices deliver a nicotine-laced mist that users inhale. The effort has been slowed by a disagreement. It’s about whether e-cigarettes should be regulated and taxed like tobacco, or separately.

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Stateside
6:23 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Why ticket scalping may soon be legal in Michigan

Michigan lawmakers appear to be on their way to handing you a much better chance of selling a ticket for a sports or entertainment event at whatever price you can get.

The state House has voted to repeal a 1931 law and allow people to resell tickets above face value. In other words, it voted to legalize ticket scalping.

Here to tell us more is Dave Eggert, Lansing correspondent for the Associated Press.

Law
5:55 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Anti-nuclear groups oppose bills to define when deadly force could be used to protect nuclear plants

Tall security fences line the perimeter of the Palisades Nuclear Plant. The plant sits between sand dunes near Lake Michigan.
Mark Savage Entergy

Anti-nuclear power groups are fighting a bill that’s working its way through the Michigan House. The bill outlines when security officers at nuclear power plants can use deadly force to stop intruders.

Kevin Kamps is a radioactive waste specialist with the nuclear watchdog group Beyond Nuclear.

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Law
5:07 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Bills call for erasing the 'R-word' from Michigan laws

Michigan State Capitol
Credit Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

A bipartisan package of bills to remove words like "mentally retarded" from all state laws is working its way through the Michigan Legislature.

The words will be replaced with more respectful terms like "intellectually or developmentally disabled."

Lois Arnold is director of Special Olympics Michigan. She supports the bills, which were recommended by the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission.

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Law
6:00 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Protesters from both sides descend on Detroit court in landmark gay marriage case

Same-sex marriage opponents protesting outside Detroit's federal courthouse.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Activists on both sides of the marriage equality issue protested outside Detroit’s federal courthouse Monday, site of an ongoing court case that will decide the legality of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

The case involves a Detroit area lesbian couple, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer. They’re seeking the right to jointly adopt the three children they’ve been raising together.

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Law
12:21 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Michigan's witness in gay-marriage trial barred

Sherif Girgis.
C-SPAN screen grab

DETROIT – The state of Michigan's defense of a ban on gay marriage is off to a rocky start after a judge refused to allow the first witness to testify.

Sherif Girgis is a law student at Yale University and a doctoral candidate at Princeton University. He has written and talked about a historical defense of marriage between a man and a woman.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman says Girgis will be an expert witness – someday. Friedman says Girgis' opinions won't help him decide this case.

Two Detroit-area women are challenging Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, which was approved by voters in 2004.

The state attorney general's office is defending the amendment this week and asked for a break Monday to summon another witness.

Law
9:19 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Eco-protesters to be sentenced this week

On Wednesday, the judge may sentence the three defendants to up to two years in prison on the felony obstruction conviction.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A trio of environmental activists will find out this week whether they will face prison time for a 2013 protest.

The three women were convicted in January of trespassing and obstruction charges. They and a fourth member of the group Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands attached themselves to heavy machinery to protest the installation of a new oil pipeline near Stockbridge.

The four did not detach themselves after being ordered to by law enforcement officers during the 2013 incident.

Law
8:25 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Gun rights advocates to march in Grand Rapids this afternoon

Gun rights advocates gathered at a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting earlier this week.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Supporters of Michigan’s laws allowing people to openly carry guns plan to march through Grand Rapids this afternoon.

They’re supporting Johann Deffert, a Grand Rapids resident who’s suing the city in federal court. Deffert claims his constitutional rights were violated a year ago when Grand Rapids police briefly detained him for openly carrying a gun as he walked through a residential neighborhood.

For more than a year, open-carry advocates have been demanding Grand Rapids repeal a local ordinance they believe is unconstitutional.

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Law
3:12 pm
Sat March 1, 2014

Washtenaw County ordered to pay in Muslim bias

The verdict was returned Thursday in Detroit federal court. Attorney Shereef Akeel says Ali Aboubaker was awarded money for lost wages and pain and suffering.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR – A jury has awarded nearly $1.2 million to a Muslim man who said he was called a terrorist and repeatedly passed over for promotions while working for Washtenaw County.

The verdict was returned Thursday in Detroit federal court. Attorney Shereef Akeel says Ali Aboubaker was awarded money for lost wages and pain and suffering.

Aboubaker worked for Washtenaw County for 17 years until 2008. The native of Tunisia says he was demoted and bypassed for promotions despite having engineering skills and college degrees.

Law
12:30 pm
Sat March 1, 2014

Flint police turning to donors to meet needs

Flint’s declining tax base has meant deep cuts to the city’s police department for well over a decade. The result has been fewer police officers working with increasingly aging equipment.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is taking a new approach to solving one of its biggest problems: money.

Flint’s declining tax base has meant deep cuts to the city’s police department for well over a decade. The result has been fewer police officers working with increasingly aging equipment.

The new Flint Police Foundation is intended to help fill the gap between the department’s needs and what its budget will allow.

The foundation will search for donors who can either provide cash or equipment.

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Law
5:42 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Year-round schooling bill moves forward in Lansing

Legislation would help schools pay for year-round school.
User Motown31 Creative Commons

Legislation that would encourage schools in Michigan to go year-round has cleared a state House panel.

The bill would create a $2 million pilot program to help schools add air conditioning and other things that would allow them to operate in the summer. It would affect schools in mostly low-income areas of the state.

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Law
5:27 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Feds will investigate U of M for how it handled a rape allegation against a football player

Brendan Gibbons was expelled from U of M in 2013 for allegedly violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. Gibbons was arrested but never charged in the alleged rape. He had been the starting kicker for the Wolverines.
user Cbl62 Wikimedia Commons

Federal education officials are investigating the University of Michigan’s response to an alleged sexual assault involving a U of M football player in 2009.

Brendan Gibbons was expelled from U of M in 2013 for allegedly violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. Gibbons was arrested, but never charged in the alleged 2009 rape. He was the starting kicker for the Wolverines until December 2013.

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Law
4:58 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Michigan gay marriage goes on trial

Jayne Rowse (left) and April DeBoer hope to overturn Michigan's gay marriage ban.
DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

Michigan’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is now on trial before a federal judge.

Ahead of opening arguments today, demonstrators supporting and opposed to the gay marriage ban in front of the courthouse as April DeBoer and Jayne Rouse showed up with their attorneys. DeBoer says they initiated the lawsuit so she and her partner could adopt the children they’re already raising together.

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Law
4:46 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Bills would make sure local government budgets don’t get slashed with tax repeal

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is championing the legislation as a ‘win-win’ for communities.
Jake Neher MPRN

Michigan lawmakers want to make sure local governments do not take a hit if voters decide to repeal an unpopular tax on business equipment.

State officials are urging voters to repeal the tax. They say it is outdated and kills jobs. But local governments depend on that tax to provide basic services to residents.

On Tuesday, lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation that would fully compensate cities, towns, and counties if the tax is phased out.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:58 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Audio: April DeBoer talks about challenging Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage

Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.
user dbking Flickr

Tomorrow, hearings challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage begin in federal court.

Partners April DeBoer and Jayne Rouse are two nurses, living in Hazel Park. They’ve been raising three children together, but they cannot jointly adopt the children because of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple sued the state for the right to adopt jointly and eventually submitted a legal challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The hearings are expected to focus on whether Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and whether children are harmed by being raised by same-sex parents.

Listen to April DeBoer speaking with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White below:


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