The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on the dispute around Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor.
In 1917, some land along Lake Michigan was given to the city of Benton Harbor. The "Friends of Jean Klock Park" describe the gift this way:
In 1917, John and Carrie Klock deeded a half mile of lake Michigan frontage to the City of Benton Harbor Michigan in memory of their deceased daughter Jean. Their gift consisted of 90 acres of globally rare natural resources that included Great Lakes Dunes, a Great Lakes Marsh and interdunal wetlands. The donated land was named Jean Klock Park and was dedicated "FOR THE CHILDREN" - "in perpetuity" - "FOREVER."
Today, the city of Benton Harbor has leased part of the park to the Harbor Shores Community Redevelop Corporation. The Redevelop Corporation used the land, including sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline for 3 holes of an 18 hole golf course.
Residents didn't like it and they filed a lawsuit. The case made it to the Michigan Supreme Court yesterday.
On May 6, 2007, firefighters were called to the residence of Kathleen Tunner at 3206 Coolidge, Royal Oak, Michigan. Ms. Tunner testified that she suspected that water was running down the wall of her basement in her unit over her electrical box. Ms. Tunner contacted 911 and the fire department arrived...even though the unit in which called for assistance was Ms. Tunner's unit, Lieutenant Schunck never entered or inspected Ms. Tunner's unit...[Schunck] testified that they entered Defendant's unit, absent any signs of leaking water or hearing water running from outside Defendant's unit...Upon entering Defendants unit, the firefighters observed suspected marijuana plants...and subsequently contacted the police."
This Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that may determine if police officers have an expectation of privacy when they are doing their jobs.
It all started with a video.
Detroit city police and members of former Mayor Dennis Archer’s staff wanted to prevent a sexually explicit video from being played at a Dr. Dre concert in July 2000.
A camera crew for the rapper videotaped police officers saying they would pull the plug on the concert.
Former police officer, and current Detroit City Council president pro-tem Gary Brown, is seen on the video saying "we're going to shut this show down."
Eventually, Dr Dre decided not to show the video police were concerned about.
But the video of the police officers making their threats was put onto a concert DVD.
Thanks to YouTube user "snoopfroggydogg," you can see the "Detroit Controversy" videos here (WARNING: they contain images and words not suitable for younger viewers):
Detroit city officials sued, claiming the DVD makers violated Michigan’s anti-eavesdropping law by putting the video on the DVD without their permission.
The city officials and police officers claim their privacy was invaded by being videotaped and the video being shown publicly.
Attorney Herschel Fink represents the DVD’s producers. He says police officers have no 'right to privacy when they’re doing their job:
"I think the very essence of law enforcement is transparency...and I think this case has implications for mainstream news gathering and not just private citizens who are videotaping police berating them which was the case here."
Lower courts have tended to side with the DVD producers.
Michigan Radio has learned that Judge Zahra's appointment will take effect on Friday, January 14th at noon. In a release sent out this morning, Governor Snyder said Zahra's, "legal reasoning abilities and depth of understanding of Michigan law are virtually unmatched." Snyder also noted:
Judge Zahra’s sixteen years of judicial experience and his razor sharp intelligence will make him an outstanding addition to the court. His integrity and consistent legal philosophy that judges are to interpret laws, not make them, gives me confidence that he will respect our system of checks and balances while upholding the rule of law.”
Governor Rick Snyder has named Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports. Zahra was appointed to the appeals court in 1999 by former Republican Governor John Engler. He was then elected to the court in 2000 and 2006.
There's been no word yet on who will replace her, but the Associated Press reports:
Appeals Court Judge Jane Markey of Grand Rapids wants Snyder to name her to the court because she'd bring a west Michigan perspective. The 59-year-old sent out an unusual release late Saturday asking for the appointment and noting that the court hasn't had a justice from Grand Rapids since 1946. Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra of Northville may be higher on Snyder's list. He turned 51 Sunday and ran unsuccessfully for the high court in 2004.
Pluta reports that Chief Justice Young "says he will call for combining courts and cutting judges in areas where there are fewer people and fewer cases." Young said:
"The Legislature will either do something rational to reduce the size and cost of the judiciary, or it will do something irrational. I think it is most rational to reduce redundancy rather than to cut into the judiciary in ways that will disable it from fulfilling its constitutional duties."
Pluta says "a 2009 report by the State Court Administrator says the state could save $2 million by eliminating more than a dozen judgeships in metro Detroit and northern Michigan."
Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief just filed this breaking news report:
Justice Robert Young has been selected as the new chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Young was chosen by his fellow justices in a closed-door vote. The decision reflects the change in control of the court from Democrats to Republicans in the last election.
The seven justices of the Michigan Supreme Court will meet today to select a new chief justice. After this past November's election, Republicans are in the majority of the court with four members; three justices are Democrats.
Justice Robert Young Junior was re-elected to an eight year term in 2010. He said yesterday that he has four votes to become the next Chief Justice. Young, who has been on the Michigan Supreme Court since 1999, is a Republican from the Detroit-area. The current Chief Justice is Marilyn Kelly, a Democrat.
Introducing Robert Young, who won another term as a Michigan Supreme Court justice, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says ads run against Young were "below the belt," and funded by Detroit attorney Geoffrey Fieger.
To applause, Young says he will uphold the constitution of the United States, along with his three fellow "rule of law" justices on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court race is ostensibly non-partisan, but candidates are nominated by the state parties.
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth "Betty" Weaver is resigning. Weaver is a Republican, but she was expected to run for re-election this November as an independent. Justice Weaver openly feuded with some of her Republic colleagues on the court.