Makeup of Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of Michigan. It is made up of seven justices who are elected to serve eight-year terms on the bench. The Court is located in the state’s capitol, in downtown Lansing. Justices run as non-partisan candidates that are supported by political parties. While they don’t actually run with a party affiliation next to their names, political ads on all sides make it clear what side of the political aisle they are in line with. It is common to see multiple judges together in ads in an effort to elect multiple justices together when it is possible. If a Supreme Court justice is not able to complete their term for any reason, then the sitting governor will appoint a justice who will serve out the remainder of the term, however long it is. Once that term ends, the seat opens up again, but the appointed Justice gets the honor of running as an incumbent candidate. Running as an incumbent is often seen as a huge advantage in judicial elections, where incumbents usually win. There are two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court that are going to be available for this coming election time. One belongs to Chief Justice Bridget Mark McCormack who is seeking re-election, and the other belongs to Justice Stephen Markman, who will not be seeking re-election because of his age. The Michigan Constitution does not allow judges to seek re-election once they have hit the age of 70. If they turn 70 during their term, they are allowed to finish out that term. Grabel04a-2-300x146

Attorney Profile

Original Case Details

Mubarez Ahmed was convicted back in March 2002 of the murders of Lavelle Griffin and LaTanya White in a drive-by shooting on the west side of Detroit. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years for his convictions. He since served 17 years of his convictions before new evidence came to light that the officer on the case, Sgt. Ernest Wilson, fabricated evidence against Ahmed and lied under oath at his trial. An investigation by the University of Michigan Law School Innocence Clinic and the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit resulted in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office recommending that Ahmed’s murder charges being dismissed, resulting in his release from state prison on September 6, 2018. Ahmed has since filed a lawsuit against both officer Ernest Wilson personally, as well as the city of Detroit for their actions which led to his improper incarceration for 17+ years. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Qualified Immunity Generally

Original Case Details

In the case of United States v Trice, the defendant Raheim Trice entered a conditional plea to one count of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute under federal law. His plea was conditioned on his ability to appeal the warrant that was issued to search his apartment and uncover the illegal drugs seized. In Trice’s case, police set up a hidden camera disguised as a smoke detector in a common area hallway in the apartment building where Trice lived. The camera had a motion sensor which was set to activate every time the door to Trice’s apartment opened. This camera recorded a number of videos showing Trice entering and exiting his apartment. This information was used to support an affidavit for a search warrant. Police were granted the search warrant based on this and other information. Police executed the warrant and found drugs and other paraphernalia this is common in the distribution of drugs. Trice contended that the use of the camera by the police violated his Fourth Amendment rights of search and seizure. iStock_000022833496_XXXLarge-225x300

Court of Appeals Decision

The Current Court Makeup

The Michigan Supreme Court is made up of seven justices who are elected for eight-year terms. Judges technically run for office as people without political affiliation. They are, however, nominated by political parties so their philosophical leanings are usually found to be in line with political viewpoints. Four of the seven current Michigan Supreme Court Justices were nominated by the Republican party while three of the seven were nominated by the Democratic Party. The current 4-3 Republican nominee majority might be in jeopardy this fall in the next elections. The last time that Democratic nominees held a majority on the Michigan Supreme Court came in 2010. If openings on the Michigan Supreme Court become available in the middle of a term for whatever reason, then the governor will appoint a Justice to serve out the remaining time on the term. The Justice will then have to run for election at the end of that term. Grabel04a-2-300x146

Available Seats

Original Case Details

A Detroit man is free after spending 8 years behind bars for a cocaine conviction that he was wrongfully convicted of. Darrell Chancellor is now fighting back as he has filed a federal lawsuit against a former member of the Detroit Narcotics team for framing him. This former narcotics officer, Stephen Geelhood, is currently under investigation for allegedly framing innocent people and taking bribes from known drug dealers. Chancellor accuses Geelhood of lying in affidavit where Geelhood claimed that he saw Chancellor selling drugs. The affidavit got a search warrant approved, which resulted in the raid of Chancellor’s mother’s house. Cocaine was found at the home and Chancellor was sentenced to a minimum 14 years and three months in state prison as a habitual offender, fourth offense. Chancellor served 8 years of that sentence before the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit realized that he had been wrongfully convicted based on a false affidavit, which resulted in Chancellor’s exoneration. iStock_000000687101_Large-2-300x200

The Lawsuit

What Will Be on the Ballot?

In the upcoming November elections, voters will have the chance to decide if police should be allowed to access people’s electronic data and communications. This is an update to the Michigan Constitution which would make a constitutional amendment barring police from the search and seizure of private electronic information without a valid warrant. It is important to note that this change would be to the Michigan Constitution and not the United States Constitution. Other states have passed similar legislation overwhelmingly. The state of New Hampshire passed a similar measure in 2018 with over 80% in favor. Missouri did it four years earlier with 75% support. If passed, this would apply to Michigan law enforcement agencies only, not federal authorities. It would also bar Michigan law enforcement from working on behalf of federal authorities in trying to gain access to electronic data without a warrant. Generally, police agencies seek warrants or have other legal justification for executing searches, but this new amendment would make the requirements official. iStock_000002709890_Large-2-300x200

The Fourth Amendment

Original Case Details

A man and woman from Flint have been charged in the death of a 68-year-old woman who was supposed to be in their care. Robert Stilwill and Lori Rosebush were both supposed to be caretakes of Bonnie Fisher, who was found dead in her home on Bloor Avenue in Flint. Rosebush is Fisher’s sister, while Stilwill is a friend of Rosebush. At the time of Fisher’s death, investigators say that Fisher weighed only 69 pounds, was severely malnourished, and had not seen a doctor in about four years. Autopsy results showed that Fisher had multiple broken bones, including a broken arm, shoulder, and pelvis. Investigators estimate that Fisher had been in bed and never moved since the fall of 2019. Rosebush is also accused of stealing Social Security money due her receiving money to take care of Fisher. Rosebush was found with $15,000 in cash in her purse when she was arrested. Both Rosebush and Stilwill are being held at the Genesee County Jail without bond for their charges.68916_law_education_series_2-300x225

The Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

Lakeside Academy is a youth center that focuses on helping troubled youths who exhibit negative behavior or get in trouble. Three staff members from this center are being charged with homicide for the death of a 16-year-old boy named Cornelius Fredericks. Fredericks was physically restrained by staff members for 12 minutes. This caused him to lose consciousness and become unresponsive. Witnesses stated that Fredericks was foaming at the mouth and appeared to be choking on his own tongue. Fredericks was transported to the hospital where he died two days later of cardiac arrest. There is video footage of this incident which has not been released to the public.juvenile-crimes-justice

The three staff members, Michael Mosley, Zachary Solis, and Heather McLogan all stand charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Cornelius Fredericks. Mosley and Solis are accused of knowingly harming Fredericks by laying across his abdomen while restraining him. McLogan is accused of gross negligence for failing to perform her legal duty as a nurse to obtain medical care for Fredericks. All three defendants are also charged with second degree child abuse. Involuntary manslaughter carries up to 15 years in prison upon conviction, while child abuse in the second degree is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The original reason for Fredericks being restrained was because he threw a sandwich in the Academy cafeteria.

Original Case Details

Paul Gabriel stands charged with open murder for the shooting death of AJ Federighe, a neighbor and fellow resident of Balcom’s Cove condominiums located on Muskegon Lake. Federighe was 22 years old at the time of the shooting. Gabriel was subject to an ongoing feud with Federighe’s father, Tony Federighe, and Gabriel had previously called and spoken to the Muskegon Prosecutor’s office about threats from the Federighe family. The day before the shooting, Gabriel had two conversations over the phone with a Muskegon County assistant prosecutor about the ongoing threats. One of these conversations lasted almost 15 minutes. Gabriel’s attorney contends that Gabriel had received information about his right to self-defense in these phone calls, as well as background information about the Federighe family. Gabriel’s attorney filed a motion to disqualify the prosecutor’s office, stating that since members of the prosecutor’s office are likely to be witnesses at trial, an awkward situation would arise where it could be viewed as if the staff would testify in a certain way to keep their jobs. iStock_000013714975_Double-2-300x217

The Judge’s Decision

Original Case Details

Federal authorities raided a house in northern Michigan that they believe is tied to an art forgery scheme that tricks art collectors into buying fake paintings claimed to be painted by top American artists. These artists include Ralston Crawford, Gertrude Abercrombie, and George Ault. Ault was an artist active mainly in the 1940s, while Crawford was mainly active in the 1970s but also had a similar artistic style to Ault. Abercrombie was a surrealist artist mainly active in the 1970s as well. Those involved in the scheme are also believed to be in the business of selling counterfeit sports memorabilia falsely advertised as belonging to baseball hall of famers Babe Ruth, Will Mays, and Lou Gehrig. Investigators believe this is a national crime ring which has conspirators operating in the Detroit area. It is alleged that this ring targeted major galleries with its scheme. Hirschl & Adler, a top American art gallery in New York City, spent nearly half a million dollars in paintings that were part of the alleged scheme. The managing director of the gallery, Elizabeth Feld stated that, “this is every (art) dealer’s nightmare.” Feld also pointed out that the artwork they bought was still beautiful art, even if not painted by the artists claimed. It is important to note that the artwork that is alleged to have been sold are not said to be photocopies of other famous pieces. These are pieces that art claimed to have been unknown pieces of art coming from these famous artists. In order for any of this alleged scheme to work, they have to convince art collectors and art galleries that these pieces were actually painted by a famous artist, something they seem to have done pretty well. Personal-Safety-Guides-Protect-Yourself-Against-Sex-Crimes-Pic-300x199

Ongoing Investigation

Contact Information