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December 2013 Archives

Michigan Legislature encouraging setup of mental health courts

As in the rest of the country, many people are arrested in Michigan who are dealing with mental illness. Unfortunately, the U.S. criminal justice system has not always recognized that a person with a mental illness may not be able to understand or control his or her actions, and thus cannot be punished or rehabilitated in the traditional ways.

Police drop investigation of MSU fan for holding sign at game

Authorities have identified a Michigan State fan who held up a sign that read “Burn the Couch” during the Big Ten Championship football game. Though police had pursued criminal charges against the man, they have changed their minds after further investigation.

Lansing man arrested on drug, weapons charges after traffic stop

It appears that an attempt by Lansing police to execute a traffic stop led to multiple felony charges against the driver. The arresting officers claim that the man had drugs and a stolen gun in his vehicle, and that he attempted to flee the scene on foot.

Riots/Couch Burning in East Lansing - - Here We Go Again!

Our office has successfully represented MSU students, and those visiting MSU's campus, who have participated in and/or attended the revelry surrounding what was traditionally known at MSU as "CedarFest", and most frequently in connection with the MSU Basketball team's involvement in the NCAA tournaments in Spring. Last weekend, MSU's win at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis led many new revelers, who presumably were not aware of the City and the University's previous responses to such activity, to take to the streets and shout gleefully, and unfortunately, participate in the burning of furniture and, at least in one instance, the overturning of an automobile.

Liberalization of marijuana laws in Michigan cities may mislead recreational users

The City of Jackson recently became the latest Michigan city/urban area to adopt a local ordinance legalizing the use of marijuana and its possession, provided that the amount possessed does not exceed one ounce. Passage of these local ordinances will likely co-exist with the executive branches of each of the local governments, instructing their own police departments not to enforce the state laws (and federal laws) that continue to make both the use and possession of marijuana unlawful. In a previous blog, we noted that Michigan's Attorney General stated that he will ignore local ordinances and will continue to enforce existing state and federal laws. Historically, urban areas have generally been more liberal than small towns and rural areas. In Michigan, small towns and rural areas are generally policed by county sheriffs and, on occasion, by the Michigan State Police. It should be clear to all that a county sheriff, state police officer or any police department in a jurisdiction that has not adopted a legalization ordinance, will most certainly charge and prosecute marijuana use and possession. People in cities where marijuana is legalized should be careful when moving the marijuana through an area where they could be arrested and prosecuted, unless they have a medical marijuana card and are acting within the limits of Michigan's medical marijuana laws relative to the method of transport and the amount being transported. Even in cities where marijuana possession and use is legalized, recreational users should be cautioned to not share their marijuana with others or to make arrangements for such sharing with groups or at parties. Sharing of marijuana, i.e. passing a marijuana cigarette from one person to another, creates a chain by which each individual could be charged and found guilty of delivery of marijuana. An agreement to get together and share each other's various types of marijuana could also be charged locally as a conspiracy to deliver marijuana. Both of these are felony charges and could lead to imprisonment.

MSU riot in East Lansing results in criminal charges

More than a thousand people flooded the streets of East Lansing shortly after midnight on Sunday to celebrate MSU's win over then-undefeated Ohio State in the conference championship game-- sending MSU to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988. Shortly after midnight, what East Lansing police called a "large civil disturbance" broke out as reports came in of large crowds and bonfires in the Cedar Village area.

Michigan struggles with new law impacting juvenile lifers

A federal judge recently ordered Michigan to comply with a new law stemming from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated the state's sentencing scheme for juveniles. In a 2012 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held the state's sentencing scheme of mandatory life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional as a form of cruel and unusual punishment. The decision requires the sentencing judge to analyze each case individually, looking at the circumstances of the case, the juvenile's personal history, and the potential for rehabilitation-- before imposing a sentence of life without parole.

Michigan man denies abusing his parents

A Michigan man is facing serious criminal charges after authorities claim that his care for his elderly parents was abusive. However, his attorney vehemently denies the accusations. He says his client took good care of his parents, and that the parents, who have been placed in a nursing home, have essentially been kidnapped by police.

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