Articles Posted in Legal

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

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.

What is Expungement?

An Expungement is a legal process where you are able to remove one or more criminal convictions from your record. Not all convictions are eligible for expungement, and surprisingly, most people never seek an expungement when they are eligible. A 2019 University of Michigan study found than less than 10% of those eligible for expungements even apply for one in the first place. If you are eligible for an expungement, you have to file a motion and request that a Circuit Judge remove your conviction from your record. The prosecutor has a right to be present and be heard at an expungement hearing, as do any victims related to the original conviction. If the judge agrees to expunge your conviction, then your fingerprint card is destroyed, and the conviction is removed from your permanent criminal record. Once that happens, you will never have to check the box on a job application ever again stating that you have a criminal conviction. This process may seem daunting, but an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to help guide you without too much of an issue. iStock_000013860209_Full-2-300x200

Current Rules

The System of Judges Typically

Most people don’t really know that much about the judges that preside in their hometowns and federal courts. Most time, the only interaction people have with a judge is to appear in front of him or her to pay a fine for a traffic ticket or something similar. All judges in those situations are generally fair and nice, as the people on the traffic docket in front of them are not there for criminal offenses. Other than, “the judge was nice to me,” what did you actually learn about that judge and his or her beliefs or policies? Many times, judges simply get elected on name recognition, and re-elected because they get to run as an incumbent. Incumbents generally win judicial elections unless there is some sort of scandal or issue that marks a sitting judge. Judicial appointments, nominations, and endorsements are just as political as the rest of our process, it’s just hidden a little better. If a judicial seat opens up in the middle of that seat’s term, then the governor or the president will appoint judges to fill those roles for the remainder of their terms. Once they run in the next election, they get to run as in incumbent, a huge advantage.

There are about 1,700 federal judges and about 30,000 state judges nationwide. Federal court is home to about 400,000 cases per year, while state courts account for over 100 million cases each year. From a traffic ticket, to a divorce, to a criminal case, these sitting judges have a huge say in how you live your lives. It is important to know who your judges are, what they stand for, and what kinds of misconduct they have committed, if any. The-History-of-Criminal-Law-Pic-300x200

What is a Diversion Program?

A diversion program is a type of probation for people who are first time offenders for various crimes. When people enter a diversion program, they are typically expected to complete a specific style of probation that is tailored to their specific situation and crime. If they are successful in completing the diversion program probation, then the case is dismissed or made non-public in some way. Many diversion programs are centered around cases that involve drugs and alcohol. But did you know there are diversion programs that help veterans and people with mental health issues? There is even a diversion program for first time domestic violence offenders and for youths under the age of 21 who accused of committing a wide range of crimes. young_offender

A list of diversionary programs in Michigan includes the following:

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.

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

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