Articles Posted in Legal

Michigan Courts Before Pandemic

The tradition and way of doing things within courthouses across the state of Michigan before the COVID-19 has always been slow and resistant to change. While some courts and jurisdictions have embraced technology and made their courts more efficient, this was hardly the norm. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack recently testified to a U.S. Congressional panel about the typical operation of courts pre-pandemic stating that technology has brought “much-needed change” to the justice system. Chief Justice McCormack stated that the pandemic drove more change in three months than has occurred in in the past three decades in the state of Michigan. She noted that even though this pandemic was not the disruption anyone was looking for, it was the catalyst to transform the Michigan judiciary into a “more accessible, transparent, efficient, and customer-friendly branch of government.” index2-300x129

Changes in Michigan Courts

Original Case Details

A teenage man from Muskegon has been given a second chance by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Carvin Bailey was convicted by a jury back in 2018 of assault with intent to do great body harm, as well as felony firearm. Bailey was sentenced to prison, where he currently resides. The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, has recently ruled to give him a new trial. The Court found that the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury on self-defense when before they started deliberations. Bailey shot another teen who had been harassing him, threatened him, and showed up to his house where a confrontation occurred. There were allegedly several witnesses who watched the men confront each other. Bailey claimed self-defense, but the judge only gave the self-defense instruction for one of his charges, failing to instruct that self-defense also applied to other counts. Bailey was convicted and sentenced to a 3-year minimum prison sentence, which had a consecutive 2-year prison sentence tacked on for the felony firearm charge.iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

The maximum Bailey can face is 12 years in prison for these convictions. His maximum sentence on his assault charge is 10 years, plus an extra two years added on to whenever he is paroled on his assault charge. Once Bailey serves his minimum three-year sentence, he will then be eligible for parole where he will either be released, or “flopped” for another year before going in front of the parole board again. He will again either be released or flopped and will continue this cycle each year until he is either paroled or serves the maximum of his sentence. A felony firearm conviction simply adds two years to any prison sentence. If you are sentenced to probation for a felony, but get convicted of felony firearm, then you will spend two years in prison for the felony firearm conviction.

Military Gear Program

Did you ever wonder how and why police departments have so much military gear? Aren’t tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas actually military weapons that are reserved for warfare against other countries and not to be used against your own people? Well the reason that police forces have so much military hear is due to the federal Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program. This program gives excess military equipment that might otherwise be destroyed to law enforcement agencies across the country for FREE. All of this equipment is simply given, not sold, to law enforcement agencies. The military equipment that is donated would include clothing, office supplies, tools, vehicles, and guns etc. Since the beginning of the program, LESO has transferred more than $7 billion worth of military gear to law enforcement agencies nationwide. That is $7 billion in tax-payer money that could be used on items that aren’t directed at your citizens. Items that are obtained through LESO can be sold off after one year as long as the money is then put back into the police department for improvements. The LESO program has contributed to police departments nationwide acting more as a militarized unit of control, as opposed to a community service-oriented agency aimed at protecting its people. A bipartisan group of congressmen are making a push to change or shut down the LESO program because of the way these military weapons are being used against Americans. mi-state-seal-300x300

Michigan Program

Original Case Details

A man from Hamtramck stands charged with four different felonies for his alleged threats against a Hamtramck Judge who was presiding over the man’s case. The man is alleged to have made death threats through text messages toward Hamtramck District Court Judge Alexis Krot. The text messages were allegedly sent to a third party and not the judge directly. Judge Krot was presiding over an assault case where the man is the defendant. When officers went to apprehend the man, he allegedly fled and committed numerous traffic violations in escaping arrest. Hamtramck Police arrested the man without incident later that day. criminal-justice-attorney-300x225

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office is facing scrutiny for their policy not requiring assistant prosecutors to watch body camera footage before authorizing criminal charges against people. This issue has come into focus after the Prosecutor’s Office dismissed two counts of resisting arrest that it charged without watching the body camera footage from the East Lansing Police Department of the incident. Prosecutors realized that they made this mistake when the Defendant, Anthony Loggins had filed an excessive force complaint against the arresting officers. This resulted in Loggins being criminally charged with two counts of resisting arrest at the same time he had filed his complaint with the East Lansing Police Department. This caused prosecutors to actually watch the footage of the incident, leading to the dismissal of the charges as well as a promised change in practices and policies by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office in how they authorize criminal charges in the first place. It is important to note that Loggins was initially pulled over in East Lansing for his failure to use a turn signal and was eventually arrested for driving while license suspended. Before he was arrested, he was ripped out of his vehicle and slammed on the ground. Incredibly, the police officer involved, Andrew Stephenson, knelt on Loggins neck after he was handcuffed. Luckily for everybody involved, Loggins didn’t die from this incident. iStock_000002709890_Large-2-300x200

Potential Policies Discussed

Original Case Details

A Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) probation officer was charged with three felony counts of perjury accusing the officer of lying during a child custody hearing. Disgraced and jailed former Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan presided over the matter and she took over the questioning of the probation officer during the hearing. The probation officer was not allowed to finish her questions under the fire of Brennan’s questioning, which ultimately led to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office filing perjury charges against the probation officer for alleged lies during the hearing. The case was bound over for trial by Ingham County District Court Judge Donald Allen, when he found probable cause that a crime was committed by the probation agent. Genesee County Circuity Court Judge Richard Yuille later ruled that Judge Allen abused his discretion in finding probable cause against the probation officer for the crimes of perjury, and ultimately dismissed all the charges. Judge Yuille ruled that the probation officer’s statements were literally true and found that no perjury existed. The officer was suspended for a period of two years while this case was pending, leading to lost wages, as well as a tarnished reputation. 979960_prison-300x225

Lawsuit Claims

Original Case Details

This case arises from a 2016 incident where the Defendant, Laricca Mathews of Wixom, called 911 to report the shooting of her boyfriend, Gabriel Dumas. Mathews was arrested for his murder and taken in for questioning without an attorney present. Before the interrogation began, the police gave Mathews a document that informed her of her constitutional rights. Mathews was interviewed twice and was told that she had a “right to a lawyer.” The police failed to mention specifically that she could have a lawyer present during police questioning, so Mathews spoke to the police without a lawyer present in both interviews. During the first interview, Mathews claimed that she shot her boyfriend Dumas in self-defense. In the second interview she claimed that the shooting took place face to face. Police confronted her statements by telling Mathews that Dumas was shot in the back of the head. Mathews responded by saying that the bullet may have ricocheted before hitting Dumas. Mathews was charged with murder and later filed a motion to suppress the statements made as they were in violation of her right to have a lawyer present during both interviews conducted by the police. Both the Oakland County Circuit Court and The Michigan Court of Appeals sided with Mathews, agreeing that the police violated her Constitutional right to an attorney. Grabel04a-2-300x146

The Fifth and Sixth Amendment

Original Case Details

A Southfield Woman, Crystal White, was confronted by police when a concerned relative of White had called the Southfield Police Department due to White allegedly acting aggressively while holding a knife. White was attempting to take her daughter, who is six years old, even though her parental rights had been terminated previously. White was 12-weeks pregnant at the time of the incident. The relative who called the police informed them that White suffers from multiple mental illnesses. White did not have a knife in her possession when the police arrived, but apparently did not listen to directions from the police about advancing on them. White’s version of events differs from the police, as she claims that an officer lunged forward to punch her in the face, while another officer pulled his taser and hit her in the stomach. White was tasered two times during the struggle, once in the arm and once in the leg. She was taken into custody after the taser was deployed. About six weeks after the taser was used on White, she miscarried, losing her unborn child. White also suffered cuts and bruises, along with broken and damaged teeth from the incident. White’s lawsuit alleges that she would have been treated differently if she were not black and lived in an affluent area. iStock_000006220072_Double-2-300x200

George Floyd Fallout

Original Case Details

A 56-year man from Pickford in the upper peninsula has been charged with 125 wildlife crimes after investigators uncovered that the man had both harvested and killed endangered and protected species of animals. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced the charges after an investigation done by their Law Enforcement Division. The man is accused of illegally harvesting as many as 18 wolves. Wolves are on the federal endangered species list and are also protected under Michigan state law. The man is also accused of killing and dumping three American bald eagles. Bald eagles are protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act as well as state law. He is also accused of illegal conduct involving deer, turkeys, bears, and bobcats. It appears that there are other suspects with similar conduct that will be charged in the near future as well. Since the animals that he allegedly harvested and killed are also protected under federal law, the man may also face federal charges which would be a separate proceeding from the state cases. american-eagle-with-flag-407636-m-300x225

Criminal Charges Involved

Pandemic Closures

Back on March 11, 2020, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack issued a memo recommending adjournments to all state trial courts. This recommendation to adjourn was later extended to recommend delaying all jury trials until at least June 22, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many courts have closed to the general public, and are only partially open for specific reasons, usually requiring an appointment. Certain services such as court marriage ceremonies have remained suspended throughout the pandemic, while other services such as the city assessor require an appointment to access and file real estate paperwork. The Michigan Supreme Court has already resumed activity, participating in some of the first oral arguments via Zoom with attorneys for a handful of cases. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel as the two busiest courts in the city of Detroit appear to be on the path towards reopening. iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

Current Operations

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