Category Archives: Constitutional Rights

MI Senate Introduces Bill Requiring Breathalyzers Be Installed In Bars

On June 1st, Sen. Bert Johnson (D) introduced Senate Bill No. 399.  This Bill, if it becomes law, will mandate that all bars and restaurants that have a liquor license must install self-operated breathalyzer machines available to customers.  Read the full text of Bill No. 399 here

The breathalyzer machine will most likely be similar to the small handheld device police use as a roadside test on suspected drunk drivers.  Hand-held breathalyzers, while valuable to an officer attempting to establish probable cause for a drunk driving arrest, are generally not admissible in court.  This is because the results of a handheld breathalyzer can be grossly inflated.  In analyzing a subject’s breath sample, the breathalyzer’s internal computer is making the assumption that the alcohol in the breath sample came from alveolar air (air exhaled from deep within the lungs). A very tiny amount of alcohol from the mouth, throat or stomach can have a significant impact on the breath-alcohol reading.  Many other factors can also contribute to a false or inaccurate reading.
Generally speaking, the results of a handheld breathalyzer are not admissible in court to prove the amount of alcohol in one’s body for driving under the influence.  So, why does the Senate want to require all businesses with a liquor licence to install one?  There is no language in the proposed Senate Bill explaining who will pay for the machines or how the State will ensure compliance.
What do you think of this proposed law? 
Will it reduce drunk drivers; or, will it be used by bar-goers to see who “wins” for being the most drunk?
Will bars and restaurant owners be held more liable for over-serving customers?
Is this just another way for the State to control private businesses?
An arrest is not a conviction!
If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, contact Dan Ambrose at 248-624-5500

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Filed under Constitutional Rights, Drunk Driving/OWI/DUI/OWVI/DWI

Talking Back To A Police Officer Can Get You Fired

Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the firing of a nurse who talked back to a cop during a traffic stop

Speaking your mind to a police officer during a traffic stop is not free speech, according to the Tenth Circuit US Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel ruled Thursday that Colorado Springs, Colorado Police Officer Duaine Peters did nothing wrong in having Miriam Leverington fired from her job as a nurse at Memorial Health System for talking back after he wrote her a speeding citation.

Peters had been running a speed trap on an exit from Interstate 25 on December, 17, 2008. He pulled over Leverington and the interaction quickly became “less than cordial.” After being handed her ticket, Leverington told Peters that she hoped she never had him as a patient.

“I hope not too, because maybe I’ll call your supervisor and tell her you threatened me,” Peters fired back.

Leverington said her comments were not a threat, but after Peters called the human resources staff at the hospital Leverington’s employment was immediately terminated “because she had threatened a police officer.” Leverington sued on the grounds that Peters and the hospital had violated her right to free speech. Leverington argued that her words were meant to express the thought that Peters was being rude and she never wanted to interact with him ever again.

The appellate judges did not believe that Leverington, as a public employee, had free speech rights that applied in this situation. Only statements expressing a matter of “public concern” are protected under the court’s precedents.

“Her statement on its face indicated that her personal animus toward Peters could impact any possible future interaction with him that she might have as a nurse at Memorial,” Senior Judge David M. Ebel wrote. “This is precisely the kind of speech that that public-concern requirement is designed to ‘weed out.'”

The court proceeded to dismiss the complaint against Peters on the ground that Leverington’s statements were not constitutionally protected speech, which cleared Peters of wrongdoing. As a police officer, Peters enjoys qualified immunity as long as he is not engaging in illegal activity or violating constitutional rights.

“Here, even drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of Ms. Leverington, it is debatable whether a reasonable officer in Peters’s position would have considered her statement to be a threat,” Ebel wrote. “Accordingly, Ms. Leverington’s free-speech rights in this context were not clearly established, and Peters is entitled to qualified immunity on this basis.”

Read the article here 

If you have a legal question contact Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500

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Filed under Constitutional Rights

Federal Court Endorses Warrantless GPS tracking

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled in favor of police officers who attach GPS tracking devices to vehicles without first obtaining a warrant. They feel it does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

What this means for you:

A police officer can attach and activate a GPS device to your car, giving them real-time info on your location. No warrant is necessary.

Read the full article here 

and a copy of the ruling here

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Filed under Constitutional Rights, Traffic Citations/Laws

Law Firm Backs Out Of Defending Federal Defense of Marriage Act


The private law firm hired by House Speaker John Boehner to represent the government in the federal Defense of Marriage Act has suddenly pulled out of the case.

The chairman of King & Spalding said Monday the firm’s internal vetting for accepting representation was “inadequate.”

As a result, the high-profile lawyer who was to lead the legal fight for House Republicans has resigned immediately from the firm. Paul Clement, who was a top partner at the firm, wrote in a letter, “I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do.”

The decision by the Atlanta-based law firm to withdraw is a victory for gay-rights supporters that have tried to have the Defense of Marriage Act repealed or tossed out on constitutional grounds in court. Those groups had urged King & Spalding in recent days to drop out of the case, and were preparing a national campaign to highlight the company’s efforts.

Read the full article here 

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Filed under Constitutional Rights

ACLU to argue against Michigan’s no-parole law

From the Associated Press

A federal judge is expected to hear arguments challenging a Michigan law that bars parole for juveniles convicted of certain murders.

The American Civil Liberties Union is to argue its lawsuit today in Ann Arbor on behalf of nine inmates sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed when they were minors.

One of the inmates is Henry Hill Jr., who was sentenced in the 1980 slaying of a man in Saginaw. Hill was 16 at the time.

The ACLU claims the law violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The state is defending the law and will ask Judge John Corbett O’Meara to dismiss the lawsuit.

The state says the plaintiffs waited too long to bring a challenge or should have raised the issues during earlier appeals.

Do you agree with the ACLU?

Read other blogs about juvenile law in Michigan here 

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Filed under Constitutional Rights