Law

Stories regarding the legal system

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Michigan-based retailer Meijer Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent the sale and distribution of products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In the settlement, the CPSC says Meijer knowingly distributed more than 1,600 units of about a dozen recalled products. The recalled products were distributed by a third party contractor working for Meijer.

From the settlement:

CPSC staff charges that beginning in or about April 2010, and including until at least in or about April 2011, Meijer received information from the third party contractor regarding the sale of all products handled by its third party contractor but failed to prevent the distribution of the Recalled Products.

The products that were recalled included Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.

You can see a list of the recalled items here.

It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.

In agreeing to the settlement, Meijer "neither admits nor denies the charges."

More from the settlement language:

Meijer believed that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent Recalled Products from being distributed into commerce and states that any distribution of the Recalled Products was inadvertent and occurred without Meijer's knowledge.

*Correction - an earlier post with the Associated Press byline stated that Meijer sold and distributed the recalled products. A third party contractor that Meijer works with sold and distributed the products. The copy has been updated.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state House committee takes up legislation tomorrow aimed at cracking down on so-called "revenge porn."

Under the proposed law, posting sexually explicit photos of a person without their consent could land someone in jail for three months and/or a $500 fine. A second offense could result in a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

State Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, says there’s a growing problem with people posting nude or semi-nude photos of former intimate partners.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

DETROIT - A grand jury has indicted a former chief financial officer, county attorney and contractor in a mismanaged Wayne County jail project.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Monday ex-chief financial officer Carla Sledge and chief assistant corporation counsel Steven Collins are charged with misconduct and neglect of duty. They are accused of giving false or misleading information on the project's cost.

Contractor Anthony Parlovecchio is charged with neglect of duty and accused of not fully informing officials about the project.

Construction has been halted on the 2,000-bed jail which was more than $90 million over-budget.

Sledge's attorney Harold Gurewitz says she is innocent of the charges. Parlovecchio's lawyer Ben Gonek says the project was within budget when his client was running it.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from Collins.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is rejoining Genesee County’s 911 system.

Since 1997, the city has been using its own operators to handle emergency calls, but the city’s system is aging and out-of-date.

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says the plan is to fold Flint into the county’s 911 system by the middle of next year.

“Our citizens will have access to the most up to date features of next-generation 911, which will include the ability to send text or photos to 911 and other more cutting edge technology,” says Earley.

Center for Disease Contorl / http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-facilities-map.html

The first person arrested for sending tainted drugs to doctors, causing the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, pleaded not guilty today.

Glenn Adam Chin is a Massachusetts pharmacist who supervised so-called “clean rooms” at the New England Compounding Center.

He’s being charged with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to reports.

Chin’s employer, the New England Compounding Center, was supposed to be tailoring medications for individual patients whose doctors sent in a valid prescription.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

Detroit has hammered out a deal with its fiercest foe in bankruptcy court, possibly smoothing the way for the city to leave bankruptcy quickly.

Bond insurer Syncora Guarantee, Inc. had fought the city’s proposed plan of adjustment at every turn.

That restructuring plan would have forced the company to take hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

Kate Boicourt / IAN

After months of tense mediation in bankruptcy court, Detroit and suburban leaders have finally reached a deal on the city’s water system.

The 40-year agreement between the city and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties will create the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Under the deal, Detroit will retain ownership of the whole system, and control over city operations.

The GLWA will lease and operate Detroit water system assets outside city limits. And it will pay Detroit $50 million a year to improve water infrastructure inside the city.

U of M Michigan Innocence Clinic

After serving 16 years for a crime he didn’t commit, Jamie Lee Peterson walked away from a courtroom in Kalkaska today a free man.

Peterson was convicted of the 1996 rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery. He was sentenced to life in prison two years later. 

Prosecutors dropped the rape and murder charges against Peterson after he was cleared by new DNA evidence. The DNA evidence did implicate another man in the murder. He’s awaiting trial. 

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

Things got heated today at Detroit's bankruptcy trial.

Syncora, a bond insurer that is arguably one of the city's biggest opponents in this trial, is coming out swinging.

And you're going to hear that name a ton during this trial, so let's recap real fast.

Who is Syncora? 

Syncora is a company. They insure bonds. They decided that they were willing to insure bonds that Detroit sold.

So they have hundreds of millions of dollars to lose here.

McBride family

DETROIT (AP) - A judge has sentenced a suburban Detroit man to 17 years in prison for killing an unarmed woman on his porch.

Theodore Wafer was sentenced Wednesday for the second-degree murder of Renisha McBride. Before sentencing, the 55-year-old Dearborn Heights man told the young woman's parents he was sorry for what happened during the early morning hours of Nov. 2.

Robert Davis.
screen grab / WXYZ TV

The Detroit News reports that Robert Davis, a former Highland Park school board member and union activist, will plead guilty to federal theft charges.

Davis was first indicted on the charges back in 2012.

The FBI’s investigation into Davis alleges that between 2004 and 2010, Davis received more than $125,000 from the Highland Park School District through a false invoice scheme:

A Detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

For the first time in years, Detroit Police say the city is on track to have fewer than 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State Police troopers are putting special emphasis on dangerous driving behaviors over Labor Day weekend.

In a news release, the state police say troopers are joining their counterparts from across the country in a traffic safety initiative called Operation C.A.R.E.

Operation C.A.R.E. was formed to deter three causes of highway fatalities: aggressive driving, impaired driving and failure to use restraints.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CLINTON TOWNSHIP – A federal appeals court has thrown out a $2.2 million verdict in a lawsuit by three women who were fired in 2004 at a court in Macomb County.

In a 3-0 decision, the court says Judge Linda Davis has immunity. The case is going back to Detroit federal court to possibly come up with a different remedy for the women.

Patricia Barachkov, Nancy Englar and Carol Diehl were fired at Clinton Township District Court when Davis was chief judge. They said the firings were politically motivated and they weren't given a chance to fight their dismissals.

Ross Kuhn / via Facebook

Some Detroit residents and activists are trying to put water shutoffs on hold—again.

The Detroit water department resumed its residential water shut-off program for delinquent customers this week. It’s trying to collect more than $80 million in back payments.

The city had put the controversial program on hold for about a month, while holding water assistance fairs and giving those who struggle to pay their bills time to get on payment plans.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Waving signs saying “Free Amir”, a small group in Bay City marked the third anniversary of the arrest of a Flint native in Iran on spying charges.

Amir Hekmati’s older sister Sarah says her family is still struggling to deal with her brother’s predicament.

“Every day we wake up, it’s very surreal and we feel like it’s a bad dream.  But it’s not going away,” says Sarah Hekmati, “We can’t believe that has become three years.”

Hekmati family

On this day three years ago, Iranian authorities arrested a U.S. Marine veteran from Flint and charged him with spying.

His family and friends are holding a rally today to mark his three years in an Iranian jail cell.

Amir Hekmati was visiting relatives when he was arrested. His family and supporters insist he’s innocent.

Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) says he’s talked with President Obama about Hekmati’s case as recently as two weeks ago. He wants the administration to pressure the Iranian government to release Hekmati.

Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton

There are now 17 counties in Michigan that offer special courts for veterans, to try to steer them towards treatment, instead of incarceration.

Monroe County began its new Veterans Court this month.

Melody Powers is a veterans outreach justice coordinator with the VA Health System in Ann Arbor.  She says many veterans who get in trouble with the law have untreated alcoholism or post-traumatic stress disorder.  But it's often very difficult for them to ask for help.

user Marlith / Flickr

The list of groups calling on state lawmakers to pass protections for LGBT people is growing. Organizations representing Michigan college, university, and school officials now say they support the measure.

They join more than 50 business and non-profit groups urging lawmakers to pass the legislation, which the coalition expects to be introduced next month.

Augustas Didzgalvis / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan law requires each county to file an annual report spelling out crimes committed by concealed handgun holders.

These reports were ordered by lawmakers at the same time they were overhauling Michigan's concealed handgun law to make it easier to obtain permits.

The reports were supposed to make it easier to take away the permits of any concealed gun holder who broke the law.

However, some counties are not filing the mandated reports.

John Barnes dug into this story for MLive. He found that last year, 11 counties broke this law.

Barnes says the main reason given for not filing the reports is that the law was an "unfunded mandate."

From 2011 to 2013, there has been an estimated 50% increase in people who have concealed gun permits. One in 16 adults have the permit, but that does not meant that they are all carrying a gun.

Barnes said there is not a penalty for counties who do not comply.

“What you see are some extreme examples of people who commit heinous crimes, who continue to carry gun permits, even though they are in prison,” Barnes said.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has dismissed two federal consent decrees against the Detroit Police Department, freeing it from strict federal oversight.

The department has been monitored for compliance with the decrees since 2003, after a US Justice Department investigation found a “pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing.”

The problems included unlawfully detaining witnesses, “deplorable” holding cell conditions, and chronic use of excessive force.

user: Jimmie / Flickr

A new bill in the state Legislature aims to make school supplies more affordable.

The legislation would give taxpayers a credit of up to $1,000 for qualified purchases of school supplies.

Materials that qualify for the credit would be things like books, computer programs, and science equipment.

State Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, introduced the bill.

He says it's worth the investment.

A Detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A judge is holding a hearing on the federal government's request to terminate an 11-year-old agreement with the Detroit Police Department to reduce excessive force and make other improvements.

The government says the city is in compliance. A hearing is planned forMonday in federal court.

Before the 2003 agreement, the U.S. Justice Department said it found constitutional violations within the department. Between 1995 and 2000, police killed nearly 50 people, including six people who were unarmed and shot in the back. Nineteen people died while in custody.

A court-appointed monitor has been watching the department during the consent agreement.

The government says it still will keep an eye on Detroit police by reviewing internal audits, offering technical assistance and making on-site visits.

Joe Santini / YouTube

The Saginaw County Sheriff's Department received a "Maxx Pro" Mine Resistant Ambush Proof vehicle from the U.S. Army in order to "prepare for something disastrous," according to Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel.

Brad Devereaux wrote about the department's decision to acquire the MRAP for MLive:

The truck's passenger compartment is bulletproof and designed to withstand a mine blast with a v-shaped undercarriage. 

"The V shape resists mine blasts away from the cab. It's very good at what it does," Undersheriff Robert Karl said, noting he found several videos online demonstrating the function.

At the time, Sheriff Federspiel said people shouldn't be concerned about "a military state" because he wouldn't let that happen.

But the giant MRAP makes an impression, and sends a message, whether intended or not.

Here's what these two dudes in Saginaw thought of it (language warning, these dudes are speaking candidly):

Devereaux now reports that the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department is planning to get rid of the vehicle. Federspiel said the plans were made prior to the department being criticized on HBO's Tonight with John Oliver.

This is just one military style vehicle transferred to police departments across the state.

Outside the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.
Michigan Department of Corrections

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP – The Michigan Court of Appeals  has cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit by dozens of male guards who say they've been denied overtime and job assignments at the state's only prison for women.

In a 3-0 opinion released Wednesday, the court affirmed the decision of a Washtenaw County judge.

The lawsuit centers on employment rules at the Huron Valley prison for women. In response to allegations of sexual abuse at the prison, the Civil Service Commission approved job qualifications that put only women in certain jobs.

The lawsuit claims the Michigan Department of Corrections is violating the civil rights of male officers at the prison.

The appeals court says officers have cleared the threshold for a class-action lawsuit, based on the number of plaintiffs, common issues and other factors.

Renisha McBride.
Family photo

DETROIT - A suburban Detroit man who killed an unarmed woman on his porch is being sued by her parents for more than $10 million.

The lawsuit against Theodore Wafer was filed Tuesday in Wayne County court, 12 days after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride.

The 19-year-old was shot in the face in Dearborn Heights. Wafer says he acted in self-defense after hearing pounding at his doors last Nov. 2, but the jury found deadly force was unreasonable.

The 55-year-old Wafer is in custody awaiting his sentence on Sept. 3. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Gerald Thurswell on behalf of McBride's parents, Monica McBride and Walter Simmons.

They accuse Wafer of wrongful death and negligence.

Michigan Department of Corrections

Jeff Titus is currently serving two life sentences for a double homicide in 1990.

Two men believe Titus’ alibi that he was hunting in a different part of the state at the time the shootings took place.     The two men are the original detectives who investigated the crime.

On November 17th, 1990, Doug Estes and Jim Bennett were hunting in the Fulton State Gaming Area.  Both were shot in the back at close range.  

The shooting occurred near the property of Jeff Edward Titus.  

Training in a Black Hawk helicopter at Camp Grayling.
USDOD

A Michigan National Guard investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the Camp Grayling military training base recommended the removal of seven people, including two lieutenant colonels.

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press reports the investigation alleges theft, destruction of government property and nepotism at the “Maneuver and Training Equipment Site” (MATES) at the base in northern Lower Michigan.

“Many ... employees thought it was allowed to ‘look the other way’ when theft (wood, copper, diesel, time) was occurring, and the majority aimlessly followed direction when told to throw thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment away,” investigating officer Col. Scott Doolittle said in a January memorandum to Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard.

The investigation was completed in January, and the report was turned over to the National Guard's criminal division.

Base spokesman Lt. Col. Bill Humes says the criminal division concluded earlier this summer that no criminal investigation was warranted.

According to Humes, two lieutenant colonels retired, two master sergeants were fired from their full-time federal government jobs at the base, two other sergeants received two weeks of unpaid leave and one master sergeant was not disciplined.

Two of those fired over the allegations, - Master Sgts. Joe Smock and Renee Reed, are appealing.

More from Egan:

The allegations against Smock mainly related to theft.

“I maintain I never stole anything,” Smock, who remains with the Michigan National Guard as a weekend reservist but no longer works at the base, told the Free Press on Friday …

The allegations against Reed were that she hurt morale and discipline by having an inappropriate relationship with Golnick, and that she improperly used government vehicles.

The author of the report wrote that he fears for the safety of some of the witnesses who have come forward in the probe.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Police chiefs in Michigan are concerned that changes coming to the way the U.S. manages its broadcast spectrum may negatively affect their radio systems.

The Federal Communications Commission hopes to auction off part of the broadcast spectrum next year to meet growing demand for personal electronic devices.

The auction is expected to generate more than $20 billion dollars. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A judge has sentenced Flint City Councilman Eric Mays to 72 days in jail for his conviction of driving while impaired.    

Mays was handcuffed and taken to jail after being sentenced by Flint District Judge Nathaniel Perry, who said the councilman put his own constituents in danger.

Eric Mays is appealing the conviction.

Mays asked the judge to put his jail sentence on hold as he was led from the courtroom. The judge denied the request.   

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