Marijuana Arrests Now More Than Half Of Total Drug Arrests Nationwide

Police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The annual arrest total is among the highest ever reported by the agency and is nearly identical to the total number of cannabis-related arrests reported in 2009. According to the report, marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (52 percent) of all drug arrests in the United States. An estimated 46 percent of all drug arrests are for offenses related to marijuana possession.

Of those charged with marijuana law violations, 750,591 (88 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. The remaining 103,247 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses. By region, the percentage of marijuana arrests was highest in the Midwest (63.5 percent of all drug arrests) and southern regions (57 percent of all drug arrests) of the United States and lowest in the west, where pot prosecutions comprised only 39 percent of total drug arrests. By contrast, the percentage of arrests for heroin and cocaine was lowest in the Midwest (14 percent of all arrests) and highest in the northeast (29 percent of all arrests).
Overall, law enforcement agents nationwide arrested 1,638,846 people last year for drug abuse violations, surpassing arrests for all other crimes. Read the full story here.

If you have been charged with a marijuana offense, contact Ambrose Law Group at 248-624-5500

www.marijuanalawyermichigan.com

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How To Request An Expungement In Michigan

You do not need to hire an attorney to set aside a conviction in Michigan.  While client’s often retain us to help them through the process, you can follow these steps on your own.

1. Order a certified copy of conviction from court clerk where conviction took place

2. Fill out application form MC 227

a. Have form notarized

b. Attach a certified copy of conviction

c. Attach your fingerprints card

3. File application form MC227 – with everything listed above AND REQUEST HEARING DATE

4. Notice of Hearing must be served on:

a. Attorney General (MI)

b. Prosecuting office of County, or whatever political subdivision prosecuted case

c. MI State Police

5. Court will set hearing date – This may take a few months

If you need help getting an expungement in Michigan contact Ambrose Law Group at 248-624-5500

www.ambroselawgroup.com

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Three Teens Receive Life In Prison – Do You Agree?

A teen, convicted of murdering her adoptive father, and her accomplices have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Tia Skinner, 18, James Preston, 19, and Jonathan Kurtz, 19, have been sentenced to life in prison wouthout any chance of parole in the stabbing death of Paul Skinner.

The courtroom proceedings started around 9:15 a.m. The courtroom was full of people and was standing room only.

The suspects are all dressed in their orange jail clothes. They are all sitting in front of their attorneys without showing any emotion so far.

Kurtz addressed the court and turned to those in the courtroom and said in barely audible voice, “I’m sorry for doing what we did”. He then went on to shock everyone in the courtroom when he said to Judge Daniel Kelly “On behalf of everyone you put away for life, (expletive) you”.

James Preston stood before the judge and said “Convicting me is an injustice, the prosecution has failed to do that in my case.”

Paul Skinner was murdered while his wife, Mara, survived with serious injuries. Tia Skinner is the couple’s adopted daughter.

Police say Tia was upset over her parents’ disapproval of her relationship with co-defendant Jonathan Kurtz.

Tia Skinner just apologized to the community and her family.

“I love my family so very much … and realize I was given the best life I could have had,” said Tia Skinner.

Mara Skinner is in the courtroom and is seated in the front row. She is seated next to her other children. Prosecutors say she will be one of several people making victim impact statements prior to sentencing.

Read full story here
Do you feel teenagers should face life sentences? Let us know your thoughts!
If you are a juvenile facing criminal charges contact Dan Ambrose at 248-624-5500 and visit our website www.ambroselawgroup.com

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Pros and Cons of Bankruptcy

Advantages of bankruptcy:

  • One of the most important advantages of filing for bankruptcy is that debtors may obtain a fresh financial start.
  • If you are eligible for Chapter 7 you may be forgiven (discharged from) most unsecured debts. A secured debt is one which the creditor is entitled to collect by seizing and selling certain assets of the debtor if payments are missed, such as a home mortgage or car loan.
  • You may be able to keep (that is, exempt) many of your assets, although state laws vary widely in defining which assets you may keep.
  • Collection efforts must stop as soon as you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
  • You cannot be fired from your job solely because you filed for bankruptcy.

Disadvantages of bankruptcy:

  • A bankruptcy can remain on your credit record for 7-10 years and can affect your future finances.
  • A bankruptcy may impede your chances of getting a mortgage or car loan for some time.
  • Not all debt will be discharged. Some debt that cannot be discharged is child support, alimony, some student loans, divorce settlements and some income taxes. You should check with an attorney on the specific categories of debt that will be allowed for discharge.

If you are looking for an attorney to guide you through the bankruptcy process contact David Lutz at 248-624-5500 or visit our website www.ambrosebankruptcy.info

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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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Juror Tries Adding Defendant On Facebook

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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the 22-year-old Hudson was one of the jurors picked last month to hear a case involving a 2008 auto wreck.  After court recessed for the day on July 18, Hudson admits he tried to “friend” the defendant, Courtney Downing.

“He’s a very, very nice kid,” said Steve Gordon, the attorney assigned to represent him. “I think he was just very naive about the rules of being on a jury.” Gordon said Hudson, who has a job as a pizza delivery man, was regularly updating his Facebook status — “stuff like, ‘Hey, I’m on jury duty. Kinda sucks. Sorta boring.’ And that was it.”

If you’ve ever been on jury duty you’ve doubtless heard instructions not to discuss a case with anyone — not fellow jurors, not family or friends, certainly not strangers who may visit your Facebook page.  In the halls of a courthouse, lawyers and staff treat jurors as if they were radioactive.  Texas just recently added language to judges’ standard instructions to remind jurors that social media are just as off-limits as personal contact with the participants in a case.

Apparently they didn’t sink in with Hudson, who sent defendant Downing that standard message: “Jonathan Hudson wants to be friends with you on Facebook.”  She became concerned and told her lawyer, who told Judge Wade Birdwell. The next morning Hudson was off the case, and last week, having pleaded guilty to four counts of contempt of court, he was sentenced to two days of community service.

“I’ve never seen this before,” prosecutor Chris Ponder said in the Star-Telegram. “But I’m afraid this is a new reality.”

Gordon, Hudson’s attorney, agreed.  “It’s just a different way of viewing yourself and what should be public about you,” he said in a phone interview. “Folks his age don’t think about it unless something bad happens.”

Hudson could have been sentenced to six months in prison for contempt. He will do 16 hours of community service, as determined by the court bailiff, next week.

“The original case resolved itself fairly quickly,” said attorney Gordon. “Unfortunately, it went on for Mr. Hudson.”

 

If you are in need of legal representation contact Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500

Also visit our website 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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Subsidized Housing In Michigan And Medical Marijuana

Kathy Heller has degenerative discs in her back and has been controlling the pain with medical marijuana. She applied for and received a medical marijuana program card from the state of Michigan.  She lives in subsidized housing, utilizing a Section 8 rent supplement through the Wyoming Housing Commission which governs her area. She showed them her medical marijuana card and they made a copy.

A year later, they sent her a letter terminating her rent subsidy for her apartment.  “We’re federally funded,” said Rebeca Geerling of the Wyoming Housing Commission, “and federal rules (and) regulations pretty much supercede or govern what our agency does.”  The Commission failed to recognize that the federal government does give local agencies leeway to allow medical marijuana users to keep their subsidies.

Without her nearly $600-per-month subsidy, Heller says that her apartment would use up her whole disability check.  She said the Wyoming Housing Commission told her they’d let her keep her rent subsidy if she did not renew her medical marijuana card.  She hopes to hear the results of her appeal by mid-September.  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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Oakland County To Expand Crime Lab, Bypassing State Lab

From freep.com

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is considering expanding the county’s crime lab to include DNA testing, avoiding state DNA test result delays that at times stretch six to nine months.

“The State Police do a great job; they have fantastic crime labs,” Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Major Robert Smith said this morning, speaking on behalf of Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “But we know in the past several years, the workload they’re asked to handle has been ever-increasing. And with the closure of the Detroit lab, that has only exasperated or compounded that workload and situation.”

Bouchard is expected to talk about the proposed expansion at a press conference today announcing accreditation of the crime lab. The Oakland County facility will be the first lab in the state to win accreditation from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors.

Oakland County’s crime lab currently employs 17 people, operating with a $1.8 million budget, said lab director Kent Gardner.

Gardner, retired director of the Michigan State Police’s Bridgeport Forensic Science Laboratory, where he worked for 22 years, said the move could alleviate some of the time lag in results from the state’s three labs in Bridgeport, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

“Typically, like for homicides — they have a high priority — usually in a week or two they get the results back,” he said today. “With others, it could take six to nine months.”

Gardner said the cost to begin DNA testing varies depending on whether current facilities are renovated or the county builds something new.

On the low end, it could cost about $200,000 to add a minimum of two or three people, $300,000 to $350,000 for equipment and about $50,000 a year for supplies, he said. The high end could stretch to more than $3 million.

Gardner said the plan could take nearly a year to implement.

In 2010, the lab processed just under 30,000 toxicology and drug evidence cases, along with 280 firearms, 820 fingerprints and 151 crime scenes, he said.

The city of Detroit closed its scandal-plagued crime lab near Brush Park in 2008, adding to the workload of the state’s labs.

The Free Press reported in May that items were left behind in the old, unsecured crime lab, including live ammunition, and paperwork containing Social Security numbers. Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., the assistant chief when the lab closed, took responsibility for not ensuring the building was emptied. The Michigan State Police is conducting an independent probe into the situation.

 

If you have questions about the evidence in your case contact Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500 or visit our website for more info www.ambroselawgroup.com

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Livonia, Michigan Tops List For Most Speedtraps

According to the website www.speedtrap.org Livonia, Michigan ranks highest in the United States and Canada for its number of speedtraps.  The city averages 27.9 speedtraps per 100,000 residents well above runner up Windsor, Ontario’s 17.6.

What does that mean for you? Slow down in Livonia or face  high odds of speeding tickets and fines.  Hopefully stories like this will help the city to recognize it may need to resurvey appropriate road speeds.

If you would like to fight your Michigan traffic ticket call Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500 or visit our website www.ambroselawgroup.com

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