Original Case Details

Back in 1996, Michael Thompson of Flint was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years and a maximum of 60 years for convictions of delivery of marijuana, felony firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thompson was first arrested in 1994 for this case when he sold three pounds of marijuana to an undercover informant in Genesee County. Police later searched his home and found various firearms. These were firearms that he was not legally allowed to own because of previous felony convictions in the 1980’s. It has been since noted that most of these firearms were antiques that were locked away and that Thompson was not carrying a gun when he sold the marijuana to the informant. At the time of his sentencing, Michigan sentencing guidelines did not apply to habitual offender cases. The habitual offender law at the time allowed a judge to sentence Thompson for any term of state prison up to life in prison specifically for the felon in possession of a firearm charge, even though the normal maximum sentence for this charge is five years in state prison. This sentence in today’s times seems prehistoric as marijuana is both medically and recreationally legal in the state of Michigan today. marijuana leaf

Michigan Attorney General’s Position Regarding Early Release

Original Case Details

Battle Creek Woman Tonia Miller was 19 years old when she was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of her infant child. She was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison back in 2003 for the death of her 11-week-old due to what a jury believed was a case of shaken baby syndrome. Miller’s baby was said to have problems breathing, where she would frequently stop breathing for no apparent reason. Miller testified that while she was feeding her baby, her baby stopped breathing and Miller gently shook her which started her breathing again. Miller was told by doctors that nothing was wrong and that she was being paranoid. Doctors at the time of the baby’s death believed that the death was due to shaking. The scientific understanding of the medical records in this case has now changed and medical experts believe that the cause of death may have been due to pneumonia, and not due to being shaken by her mother. In 2018, lawyers for Miller from the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic filed a motion for a new trial due to the new medical viewpoints. Two years later, the Michigan Court of Appeals has made their decision regarding re-opening Miller’s case. Grabel04a-2-300x146

Court of Appeals Decision

Qualified Immunity Generally

Qualified Immunity is a legal doctrine that makes it extremely difficult to sue a police officer or his or her department for wrong and usually illegal conduct by their officers. Unless you are able to show that the government official in question violated a “clearly established” law, then you will not be able to hold an officer or department financially responsible for their actions. This would include both constitutional and statutory rights. It is important to note that qualified immunity is not just immunity from having to pay money damages, it’s actually immunity from having to face any sort of trial at all. One of the biggest chants coming from civil rights protestors is that of ending qualified immunity so officers are held accountable for their actions. The incredible power of police unions and police departments has been a focus of public anger in recent months, leading to calls for police reforms of all kinds, including that of ending qualified immunity.iStock_000002709890_Large-2-300x200

Mississippi Federal Judge’s Statement

Oakland County Primary Results

The race for Oakland County Prosecutor has already marked a big change on the horizon. Both the Democratic and Republican primaries in Oakland County have allowed two candidates to emerge to go head to head in the general election in November. The Oakland County Prosecutor race came down to two candidates on the Democrats side, and one candidate running on the Republican side. They are listed below with their respective backgrounds and percentage of the vote they received:

1) Karen McDonald (D), a former Oakland County Circuit Court Judge. She was first elected to the Oakland County Circuit Court in 2012 and served until 2019 when she resigned to seek the position of Oakland County Prosecutor. She received nearly 66% of the vote, soundly defeating current Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper.

Original Case Details

A married couple that owns the popular Sterling Heights Asian restaurant Chung Ki Wa have been accused of both filing false tax returns as well as using a “zapper” that falsifies business transactions. Chung Ki Wa is known for its Korean BBQ, Japanese Sushi, and Chinese dishes. The Michigan state Department of Treasury found that the couple allegedly failed to report more than $165,000 in sales tax that they should have collected since 2013. A zapper is a software that is used by business owners to manipulate their point of sale devices, typically programming the software to suppress sales numbers in an effort to under-report tax liabilities to the government. An investigation into what was leading to this underreporting led to the Attorney General’s office believing that the couple was using a zapper. iStock_000003633021_Large-2-300x201

Summary of Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Washtenaw County Primary Results

The race for Washtenaw County Prosecutor may technically be just past the primary stage, but the next prosecutor in Washtenaw County has already been determined by voters. Washtenaw County is a heavily democratic leaning area politically so that has resulted in no Republican candidate running for the post. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor race then came down to three people. They are listed below with their respective backgrounds and percentage of the vote they each received:

1) Eli Savit, a reformist candidate who is an outsider having never served as a prosecutor or criminal defense attorney. Savit is the lead counsel for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. He has national support from Senator Bernie Sanders as well as singer John Legend. He received 51% of the vote and will be the next Washtenaw County Prosecutor.

Results of Primary Elections

The results of the August primaries are in, and Macomb County will be voting for a new prosecutor in November. Well, technically voters were already voting for a new prosecutor in the primary as previous Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith resigned this past March due to criminal corruption charges. The field to replace Smith was crowded, with five candidates on the Democrats side along with two candidates running from the GOP. Retired Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Mary Chrzanowski edged out former Waterford District Judge Jodi Debbrecht Switalski by just over 2,000 votes in the unofficial results to claim the right to run on the Democratic ticket in November. Chrzanowski, nicknamed “Scary Mary” by defense attorneys for her heavy sentences will face Republican challenger and former Michigan State Senator Peter Lucido. Lucido more than doubled the vote of his challenger, former Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor John Goodman, winning by over 35,000 votes. This is the first time since 2004 that former Prosecutor Eric Smith will not be on the ballot in November for Macomb County Prosecutor. iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

Previous Macomb County Prosecutor Scandal

Original Case Details

Former Jackson County resident Dawn Dixon-Bey was convicted of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of her then-boyfriend, Gregory Stack. Dixon-Bey was found guilty by a jury in front of Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John McBain. She stabbed her boyfriend in the heart twice but claimed self-defense when she testified at trial. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said that the act was premeditated because the boyfriend was laying on the couch when he was stabbed. Judge McBain viewed the crime as first degree murder, and his sentence of Dixon-Bey was intended to show that. McBain sentenced Dixon-Bey to 35-70 years, a sentenced which far exceeded the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. The defense appealed the sentence, winning a Michigan Court of Appeals decision 2-1 in favor of resentencing Dixon-Bey. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the case, so it went back before Judge McBain for resentencing. 68916_law_education_series_2-300x225

Judge Defies Court of Appeals Order for Resentencing

Michigan Department of Corrections Response to COVID-19

Jails across the state of Michigan saw a significant decrease in prisoner population due to early releases due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of inmates across Michigan’s County Jails decreased by more than half during this time; starting at a jail population of about 18,000 and now down to about 8,000 inmates. The Michigan Department of Corrections (Michigan’s prison system) saw significant decreases as well as both jails and prisons alike face significant challenges in keeping the prisons sanitized and safe from COVID-19. COVID-19 has infected more than 4,100 Michigan prisoners and 420 employees. 68 prisoners who were infected died along with three Michigan Department of Corrections employees. When an inmate tests positive for the virus, it can pose a significant challenge for that prison to contain the spread. Quarantining in a prison is also the same as solitary confinement, which is usually reserved for the most dangerous offenders and serves as a type of punishment for bad behavior in the prison system. index2-300x129

Current Situation Involving 35 Prisoners

Michigan Jails During Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an overhaul of our daily activities, and how many things are viewed. The normal routines for the operation of the Michigan prison system and county jails have seen monumental change. In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reserve jail and prison for those who commit violent crimes, a huge number of inmates have been released. In mid-March, there were nearly 18,000 people in the overall jail population statewide. In about six weeks, that number was reduced by approximately 10,000 people in which about 8,000 remained. Wayne County reduced its jail population by 40%, Ingham County by 30%, and Genesee by about 25%. While these numbers are significant, the most glaring statistic that has emerged during this period is the significant decrease in new criminal case filings, and that the State of Michigan has generally not seen those released re-offend in any way to end up back in jail. This decrease in crime even while so many have been released from jail has strengthened the calling for jail and prison reforms from various groups. Local groups such as the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration have pushed for reform, while national groups such as the Vera Institute of Justice have helped lead the way nationally with their research and statistical analysis. index2-300x129

Advocates Seek Change to System

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