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New law gives prosecutors more notice of inmate releases

Michigan prosecutors now will know when prisoners are set to be paroled in their counties.

A new law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this week — sponsored by state Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc — requires that prosecutors receive written notice within 10 days of the parole board’s decision to release a prisoner.

The notice must be sent to prosecutors where the crime occurred and where the offender will be released.

Although county sheriffs are notified routinely, prosecutors have complained in recent years that it’s difficult to get information about upcoming parole hearings or prisoner release dates.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper sued the Michigan Department of Corrections over the matter last year.

Cooper praised the law as a “baby step in the right direction,” but said additional legislation needs to be passed that would give prosecutors a 48-day notice — time enough to file an appeal with the courts if they object to the parole.

“It would give us a chance to look at the case, pull our files together,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt to have a second pair of eyes on these cases, or even a third or fourth. Mistakes get made.”

From freep.com

The bill, Public Act 165, takes effect immediately.

“I think it is important that prosecutors know who is coming back into the community,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who lobbied for the bill. “Particularly recidivists, or, as we like to call them in my office, frequent flyers. We like a prior notice so that we can get our radar up.”

Snyder signed the bill Tuesday. The legislation was passed with strong bipartisan support.

“This is an important change that will better protect our communities and give crime victims peace of mind,” Snyder said in a written statement.

 

If you have been charged with a crime contact Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500 or visit our website at www.ambrosecriminallaw.com

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Bill wants to tweak No Fault policy, limit medical coverage to traffic accident victims

From the Oakland Press.com

Michigan motorists have been the beneficiaries of unlimited medical coverage under the state’s 38-year-old No Fault auto insurance policies but that might soon change.

State Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, has introduced a bill to limit medical coverage for accident victims, including motorists, pedestrians and motorcyclists under No Fault policies.

The motive of the legislation is to save No Fault, contain costs, increase competition for consumer dollars and give them a choice of the amount of coverage desired.

“Staggering increases in the costs of providing mandated unlimited, lifetime medical coverage as part of an auto insurance policy has pushed the price of auto insurance 20 percent to 25 percent higher than neighboring states,” according to the Coalition for Auto Insurance Reform.

During the past 10 years, the average auto insurance Personal Injury Protection medical claims rose more than 166 percent from $13,617 in 2000 to $36,245 in 2010, it said.

Under his Consumer Choice Insurance Act, motorists will have $250,000 of basic medical coverage but will be able to buy additional coverage of $500,000, $1 million and $5 million.

However, Lund and Dyck E. Van Koevering, general counsel for the nonprofit Insurance Institute of Michigan, were unable to provide the cost for consumers of buying additional coverage.

They suggested marketplace forces will push down the costs of auto insurance if there is greater competition among insurance providers.

Michigan’s No Fault insurance now provides unlimited lifetime medical coverage for those who incur catastrophic injuries such as ones that leave them paralyzed from a spinal cord injury or in a coma from a closed-head injury.

Read the full story here 

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American Bar Seeking Rules On When A Judge Must Recuse Him Or Her Self

From the Birmingham News

WASHINGTON — The American Bar Association, in a newly adopted policy, is urging states to set rules for judges to step down from cases involving campaign contributors, a sign of growing national anxiety over the influence of political money in the judicial system.

“It does raise it to the national level and starts the debates in the state legislatures, but more importantly it’s on the radar of the chief justices of every state,” said Tommy Wells, a Birmingham lawyer and former president of the ABA.

Alabama was at the forefront 16 years ago, when legislators passed a law calling for local judges to recuse themselves if a party or their lawyer contributed $2,000 to the judge’s election; $4,000 for state appellate judges. But in a quirky stalemate between the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the Alabama Supreme Court, the law has never been enforced.

The issue has only gotten more serious since the Alabama law was passed. Spending on judicial elections has skyrocketed; questions about whether judges should be picked in partisan elections have increased; and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that campaign donations can create a risk of bias by the judge, and, separately, that corporations or labor unions can independently spend unlimited amounts to influence elections.

“The mere possibility that a vast influx of additional campaign money might enter (judicial elections), which already in the past decade has been saturated with unprecedented campaign support, virulent attack ads, and concomitant diminution in public respect for state judiciaries, makes tighter controls over disqualification imperative,” ABA officials wrote in a recent report. “Thus there is an urgent need for states to have in place prompt, effective, and transparent disqualification procedures.”

The ABA’s House of Delegates, in its annual meeting in August, overwhelmingly approved the resolution calling for disclosure of campaign donations from litigants and lawyers to the judge hearing their case, and guidelines for when those donations would require the judge to remove himself from the case.

“This gets to the whole issue of the public’s respect for the rule of law and does the public have confidence in the judiciary to be fair and impartial,” said William Weisenberg of the Ohio State Bar Association, who presented the resolution at the ABA meeting in Toronto.

The ABA policy does not dictate specific rules, leaving the details up to the states. But it does call for clear disclosure of campaign finances so that judges, lawyers and the public have the complete picture to make a decision about disqualifying a judge. Wells said the disclosure should include direct donations to a judge’s campaign as well as independent campaign expenditures made on a judge’s behalf.

“You have to trace the money,” Wells said. “We’ve done a better job of that in Alabama with the ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers, but it is still not as transparent as it probably needs to be to make that statute effective even if it were being enforced. If I gave money to a PAC and that PAC gave money to a judge, how do you know that’s my money?”

Alabama’s recusal law has never been enforced. The Alabama Supreme Court says it can’t write the rules to implement the law until the U.S. Justice Department signs off that it doesn’t disenfranchise minority voters; but the Alabama Attorney General’s Office says no such federal approval is necessary and has refused to submit it to Washington. A lawsuit filed by a member of the Anniston City Council trying to force action recently was dismissed, though the issue could be revisited.

Thirty-nine states elect their judges, and the ABA said 20 percent of them have started to reexamine the issue of disqualification since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009 regarding campaign contributions creating the appearance of bias.

“Judges each and every day decide cases .¤.¤. and they do it with honor and distinction but there are situations that arise that raise questions,” Weisenberg said. “Public perception is very important.”

If you have questions about a criminal case contact Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500

or visit our website at www.ambroselawgroup.com

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Oakland County Begins Arrests At Dispensaries

Four people were arrested today after Oak Park police surrounded the Oak Park headquarters of a medical marijuana facility.

Big Daddy’s operates a chain of stores that sell indoor marijuana-cultivation equipment and a busy Web sales business.

We will keep you updated as we hear more information

If you have been charged with a crime related to medical marijuana contact Daniel Ambrose at www.marijuanlawyermichigan.com

For information on Michigan’s marijuana laws or your marijuana defense needs visit our website www.marijuanalawyermichigan.com

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What’s Next For Marijuana Dispensaries?

Authority figures seemingly love to use the word “pot” rather than marijuana because to them it signifies something dirty, something dangerous. A drug that belongs in the gutters of society and at the centerpiece of shady drug deals, not in the hands of patients with debilitating illnesses who find relief in the leafy, green plant. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was happy to use the marijuana alternate a day after medical marijuana dispensaries were declared illegal by the state Court of Appeals. “These pot shops need to be closed down,” he proclaimed. “This ruling is a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches.”

Law enforcement will be given the ‘tools’ they need in order to start closing down the 400-500 marijuana clinics throughout Michigan, Schuette said. “Nobody voted to have pot shops across from schools and churches,” he went on to say. “The court of appeals unanimously cleared the air that these dispensaries, these pot shops – really drug houses – are not legal.”

So where does this leave the hundreds of people who have invested everything they have into opening a new dispensary? What about the 100,000 or so people with state-issued medical marijuana cards that rely on dispensaries for their medicine?

Fortunately, in some areas, a county-wide eviction and complete termination of all dispensaries is not that simple. City officials have drafted ordinances to license dispensaries that allowed them to operate, giving them the impression that they were doing so legally. This creates somewhat of a sticky situation, as county prosecutors don’t want to hang medical marijuana patients out to dry when they were under the impression that they were creating a legal business relationship with their local dispensary.

Additionally, some lawyers think that the ruling is merely political. Dispensaries could remain open for business regardless of the court’s ruling, according to Royal Oak Attorney James Rasor. He believes that the Court of Appeals “kind of missed the point”, and that the ruling “does nothing but impermissibly infringe on the rights of the voters.”

What happens in the weeks ahead will go a long way in defining what kind of future medical marijuana will have in the state of Michigan. It’s hard to see the logic in sending ill patients to the streets and stranger’s homes to get their medicine.

If you have been charged with a crime related to medical marijuana contact Daniel Ambrose 248-808-3130 or  at www.marijuanlawyermichigan.com

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Today, Wayne County judge to haul no-show jurors into court

From freep.com

Many are called in Wayne County. But few are showing up.

So, starting this morning, potential jurors who fail to show up at the courthouse will be hauled before Wayne County Circuit Presiding Judge Timothy Kenny to explain why they did not appear for jury service.

“On an average day, 23% of the jurors do not appear for their service,” Kenny said. “Our jury system cannot work if the people don’t come down to be jurors.”

Today and Thursday, about 250 no-show jurors will appear before Kenny to explain why they ignored their summons, which can be considered contempt of court. Kenny can impose fines or even jail terms as punishments.

“I’m not planning anything draconian, but we want to get the message across,” he said. “The goal is to get people to serve. Defendants and victims won’t get their day in court if citizens won’t serve.”

And ignoring the summons to the show-cause hearing can bring even stiffer penalties, Kenny said, though he did not provide details.

Read the full story here 

What do you think about jury duty?

 

If you are looking for legal representation contact Ambrose Law Group at 248-624-5500 or visit our website www.ambroselawgroup.com

 

 

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Former Detroit Piston Charged in Marijuana Grow Operation

Former Detroit Pistons first-round draft pick Rodney White said he wanted to build a dirt-bike track for underprivileged children, neighbors recalled. They never questioned the construction equipment that stayed on the site for two years, nor the growing mounds of orange clay. But in hindsight, neighbors said Wednesday, no one ever saw any kids on dirt bikes. Dug into the ground was an elaborate marijuana-growing operation under a makeshift shed, authorities said Wednesday.

White, who led the UNC Charlotte basketball team to the 2001 NCAA tournament, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Iredell County and charged with managing the two-county operation. Authorities said they removed 62 marijuana plants, including some that were four feet tall.

White and Nicole Denise Jackson of Mooresville were charged with felony manufacture of marijuana; felony possession of marijuana; maintaining a dwelling for marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia. White also was charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, Redmond said. White couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. White was being jailed under $5,000 bond Wednesday, and Jackson also was being held under $5,000 bond, but additional charges are possible in Alexander County, authorities say. Read the full story here.

If you have been charged with a crime related to medical marijuana contact Daniel Ambrose 248-808-3130 or  at www.marijuanlawyermichigan.com

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Judge Sentenced in Juvenile Justice Bribery Scandal

A longtime judge has been ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state’s high court to toss thousands of convictions. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as “kids-for-cash.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner.

Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes. The judge remained defiant after his arrest, insisting the payments were legal and denying he incarcerated youths for money.

The jury returned a mixed verdict following a February trial, convicting him of 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, and acquitting him of 27 counts, including extortion. The guilty verdicts related to a payment of $997,600 from the builder. Conahan, meanwhile, pleaded guilty last year and awaits sentencing.  Read the full story here.
If you are looking for Michigan legal representation contact Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500 or visit our website www.ambroselawgroup.com

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Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision Protects Miranda Rights for Youth

At issue was whether police must advise juveniles of their rights when interrogations are conducted at school.

In June, the United States Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor, reversed the North Carolina Supreme Court by rejecting the State’s argument that a child’s age has no place in the custody analysis. The Court held that “the custody analysis would be nonsensical absent some consideration of a suspect’s age.” “Seeing no reason for police officers or courts to blind themselves to that common sense reality,” the Court explained, “It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave.”

The case involved a 13-year-old seventh grade middle school student who was removed from his classroom by four adults, including a uniformed police officer and school resource officer, and questioned in a closed school conference room about alleged delinquent activity off school grounds. The student was not given his Miranda warnings during the interrogation, or prior to his making any statements about his conduct. The student’s attorneys moved to suppress his statements, arguing that he had been interrogated by police in a custodial setting without being afforded Miranda warnings. The North Carolina Supreme Court “declined to extend the test for custody to include consideration of the age … of an individual subjected to questioning by police.”

Read the full story here.

If you are looking for experienced legal representation contact Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500

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ACLU of Michigan takes up causes of those jailed because they can’t pay fines

From freep.com

Kyle Dewitt says the last thing he expected when he went fishing in Ionia County in May was to wind up in jail.

But that’s what happened after Ionia District Judge Raymond Voet sentenced the unemployed 19-year-old from Ionia on Tuesday to three days in jail because he said he couldn’t afford a $215 ticket for catching a smallmouth bass out of season.

Dewitt is one of five Michigan residents whom the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is holding up as victims of pay or stay — the practice of some judges to lock up misdemeanor defendants who can’t afford to pay their fines.

“Long thought to be a relic of the 19th Century, debtors’ prisons are still alive and well in Michigan,” state ACLU Director Kary Moss said Thursday in announcing that it had intervened on behalf of Dewitt and the others to challenge their court sentences.

“Jailing our clients because they are poor is not only unconstitutional, it’s unconscionable and a shameful waste of resources,” Moss said.

In each case, Moss said, judges failed to conduct a hearing to determine whether the defendants were too poor to pay, whether they could pay in installments, or whether they should be sentenced instead to community service.

Voet wouldn’t comment on the sentence.

But Ionia County Prosecutor Ron Schafer, who attended Dewitt’s sentencing, disagreed with the ACLU.

“Mr. Dewitt is an able-bodied high school dropout who came up with the money to buy all of his fishing gear, tackle and his license. But now he can’t come up with $215 to pay his fine and the ACLU is intervening on his behalf?” Schafer said. “The general Michigan citizen is going to say, ‘Wait a minute. Is he someone who doesn’t have the means to pay, or chooses not to pay?’ ”

The ACLU said Thursday’s announcement resulted from a two-year investigation. During the past two weeks, it said, ACLU court watchers observed district and circuit court judges issue such sentences in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, Montcalm, Muskegon, Kent and Ionia counties.

Dewitt, who insists he caught a legal rock bass, was ticketed by a state conservation officer.

“It was unfair,” Dewitt said. “The judge should have given me a grace period so I could make the payments. I could have come up with the money over a period of time.”

The ACLU said it plans to appeal Dewitt’s conviction.

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