Monday, May 23, 2016

Michigan Bar Exam February 2016 results by name

The results of the passers of Michigan's February 2016 Bar Exam have been released.

See list here (via Board of Law Examiners).

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Q & A: I want to appeal a decision the court made in my case. But I am short on funds. Can I wait a while to appeal?

Q : I want to appeal a decision the court made in my case. My attorney says it's an issue that's subject to appeal. But I am short on funds to pay my attorney. Can I wait a while to appeal? 

A: Probably not.

You do not state in your question in what area of law your case was. Your question does center on the area of Procedure (whether Criminal Procedure or Civil Procedure). Evidence law may also come into play here.

In general, an option to appeal a decision is limited - in more than one way. First, only certain issues will be considered relevant to an appeal. This is sometimes a question of law (what prior cases have held), and other times a question of fact (whether the judge left out certain evidence, denied a motion, etc.) If it's an evidence question, a transcript of the earlier hearing may need to be reviewed, to see what was done in court, and on the record.


Second, and more importantly in your case, an appeal is limited in time.
Court rules limit when an appeal can be done. It is typically 21 days (under MCR 2.119 (F), and MCR 7.205 (A)) after the entry of an order in a case. This means that once the order is signed (entered) by the judge, your "clock" begins ticking.

I understand that attorney fees are expensive. If you wait too long, your appeal "window" will possibly close forever. This means that you will have to live with the decision that was made in your case.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Minnesota proposes the PRINCE Act to preserve rights in a name, etc. after death.

An 11th hour piece of legislation prompted by Prince's untimely death on April 21 was introduced today in the Minnesota state legislature. The Personal Rights in Names Can Endure Act, or PRINCE Act (we see what they did there), aims to protect multiple aspects of an individual postmortem, including name, image, voice, and signature.

Article here (via Vice Magazine).

The bill, if enacted, would grant extended publicity control to heirs of Prince's estate and limit outide use of his name and likeness in commercial pursuits. Rep. Joe Hoppe, who introduced the PRINCE Act, called it an attempt "to recognize the right of publicity postmortem." Though the bill's supporters cite the artist's death as direct inspiration for the proposal, its protections would apply to all Minnesotans, not just celebrities, and apply for 50 years following an individual's death. It would also apply retroactively to those who died before its signing.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Q & A: My son's dad and I broke up. I never want to deal with him again. Can I get him to sign off his rights to our son?

Q : My son's dad and I broke up. We've been living together for 5 years, and our son is 3 years old. I never want to deal with my ex-boyfriend again. Can I get him to sign off his rights? 

A: A lot of people have the interesting idea that it's an easy process to change another person's rights to custody, simply because that parent doesn't want to continue any relationship at all with the other parent.

Your question focuses on Family law, specifically child custody, parenting time, and child support.  One thing to keep in mind is that Family court is a court that sits in equity. Equity doesn't mean everything is split down the middle, but rather that the court make a decision that's fair to both parents.

If there are no court orders in place, and the couple is not married, the court will place primary physical custody with the mother. The unmarried father will have to assert his right to parenting time, but also be willing to take on the support responsibility, even if no support is ordered.

If either parent has applied for or received State Assistance in the state of Michigan, the office of the prosecutor (in the form of that county's Friend of Court offices) will begin a support action regardless (as the Assistance is paid by other tax payers, the support at that time is to re-imburse the state for that Assistance). The good thing about an action started by the FOC is that it also allows for a father to have reasonable parenting time.

A court will not let a parent "sign off" his or her rights without also making a decision in the custody matter. This goes back to the equity idea: it's not fair to take away one parent's rights simply because the other parent is tired of dealing with him or her.

Ask yourself, as a parent, if "signing off" is what is really best for the child. It's understood that these matters are full of emotion, but it's best if the child has a continuing relationship with the other parent, and that the child will get support financially from that parent as well.

Also, without evidence to the contrary, the court will presume that having a relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the child. The court will do what it can to encourage that relationship through its orders.

If you have other questions, please seek a private consultation with an attorney to determine a legal course of action.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Q & A: Drinking and driving and marijuana use (Novel thoughts in the law: If it's illegal, you can get in trouble. And even if not illegal, too.)

Q: I was arrested for drinking and driving, blew a .10, and have been able to get a plea deal for driving while impaired, instead of the higher charge. But the thing is, I was tested for use of marijuana at a later alcohol and substance abuse assessment. I have been working on getting a card for medical use of marijuana but it hasn't happened yet. Why did they test me for THC? This charge had nothing to do with that.

A: They tested you because they can, and because marijuana use is still illegal. Sorry, but even when you are showing that you may have a medical need, but your medical marijuana card isn't issued yet, the court may order you to test "clean" or negative for any other substances (including alcohol) during the period of your probation.

An alcohol and substance abuse evaluation is often part of the sentencing process. It's a report that is later given to the Court and Probation department, and it can be quite influential regarding your sentence.

Let's face it, taking care of your legal problems should be foremost in your mind right now. So take your time with the evaluator, and don't feel like it's an inconvenience. Spending time in jail or on community service are inconvenient as well.

The evaluator may also ask questions about your family life, whether your parents had alcohol or drug problems, and other questions that don't seem particularly relevant to why you were pulled over. Sorry, but that's  part of the assessment as well, and gives a clearer picture to the evaluator as to whether you may be at a risk to re-offend. A second evaluation may also be part of the sentencing and probation process, nearer to the end, to show that you're improved over the term of probation.

The test, for which you tested positive, will possibly be re-administered between now and the end of your probation. Today's test will be used as a "baseline" for the THC that's in your system, and as long as you're ordered to test, that level needs to go down in your blood, otherwise you may be facing a violation of your probation - no laughing matter. It means that the underlying sentence from the drunk driving charge may actually happen to you, even if it was pleaded out in court.

And here's the novel thought in the law: If it's illegal, you can get in trouble. If it's not illegal, but it is part of your probation conditions, you can also get in trouble. So that means that you might be restricted from all alcohol use as a term of your probation, even though alcohol is totally legal, it currently isn't legal for you, because of probation. Likewise, talking to someone is not a crime - but if there's a no-contact order as part of your probation because of alleged domestic violence, then talking to that person is illegal for you during the term of your probation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Job postings: How to look for work

Job searches are almost all online now, and that's fine. The thing is that you have to know where to look. Here's some good websites for jobs in various areas:

This is the City of Grand Rapids' employment listing.

Here is the State of Michigan's listings.

This is USA jobs, working for the US government.

This is the State of Michigan, specific to employment in the Courts. (but not necessarily as a lawyer, for example Information Tech for the courts, etc.).

Kent County's website.

Indeed.com - the nice thing about Indeed is the jobs are searchable by income, job title (not just description), etc. etc.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Legal research: for Michigan bar members only

In case you really need to find an opinion issued by Michigan's court of Appeals, or Supreme Court, where do you go?

Aha: The state bar's website has a searchable feature for the e-journal, and it is located here. 

Enjoy!