Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Wednesday before Thanksgivng is one of the biggest "bar nights" of the year.

Since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest "bar nights" of the year, here is a review of drunk driving law in Michigan. Don't take risks that could be avoided!

If you're thinking about going out for a night of drinking, and then getting behind the wheel, here are some things to consider.

Michigan law regards any BAC (blood alcohol content) above .08 percent as "impaired" driving, for a driver who is over age 21. Of drivers under age 21, any BAC at .02 percent or above is considered impaired (also known as "zero tolerance" of impaired driving for underage drivers). Also, it's illegal to drive under the influence of any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body. (For more information about Schedule 1 drugs, see section 7212 of the Michigan Public Health Code; MCL 333.7212.)

If you're impaired (between .08 - .16 percent BAC) and this is a first offense**, fines and penalties will be:
  • Up to $500 fine
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to 180 days license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver's license. 
  • There's also the possibility you'll be required to use an ignition interlock device.
  • A reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver's license was suspended, revoked, or restricted. (More information at MSP and Michigan SOS).
  • This doesn't include lost time at work, lost wages from attending court, meetings with your attorney, time spent doing all the required community service, paying your attorney, and so on.  

Michigan has changed its law recently to include a higher BAC  with a higher penalty, also known as the "Super Drunk" law. If your BAC was .17 or higher,and this was a first offense, penalties are:
  • Up to $700 fine
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to one year license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver's license
  • Mandatory completion of an alcohol treatment program
  • Ignition interlock use and compliance after 45 days license suspension is required to receive a restricted driver's license. Convicted drunk drivers have limited driving privileges, are prohibited from operating a vehicle without an approved and properly installed ignition interlock device, and are responsible for all installation and upkeep costs for the device.
  • A reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver's license was suspended, revoked, or restricted. (More information at MSP and Michigan SOS
Michigan "ratchets up" fines and penalties when it's a second or third offense, with a third offense being a felony. And penalties go up if there's a death or serious injury. Also, refusing to take a chemical test to test your BAC results in a license suspension. But if you're still in the car, and not arrested yet, the PBT (preliminary breath test) and other roadside sobriety tests can be refused. Related article from my blog here. 

If you already have gotten arrested for drunk driving, it's essential that you hire an attorney who can defend you in court. A good defense attorney can perhaps get results of your BAC test thrown out, suppress incriminating statements you may have made, or perhaps throw out the traffic stop altogether. 

Want to calculate your potential BAC? Try this website.  Keep in mind that what you ate, how long ago it was, how close together your drinks were, how much you weigh, and how often you drink are all factors that can affect your BAC.

** And there are no fatalities or serious bodily injury. Different fines apply for drivers with a CDL endorsement as well.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Michigan Courts promote adoption across state

Michigan is celebrating adoption with public events in at least 30 counties and at the Supreme Court in Lansing.

article here.

About 2,300 children were adopted through the state or private agencies in the budget year that ended Sept. 30.

Why now is a good time to apply to law school

From the article:
These comments are addressed to a specific audience: those who think they want to be lawyers some day and are simply not pulling the trigger on applying because of all the bad news. Here’s why I think [the bad news] is a mistake.

article here. 

Holliday office party coming up? Here's some tips for you - 5 ways to shine at holiday office parties

Holiday office party coming up? Worried about the impression you're giving off? Here's an article that will help.

Personally, I can only take small talk for a short while before I hope the conversation turns to a topic with content.The way I turn the conversation from small talk to other topics, is by bringing up books, movies, or weekend hobbies. This also steers clear of "talking shop" at the party.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kent County Commissioner out of jail on multiple sex charges

Kent County Commissioner Gary Rolls, facing sexual-assault charges that date to 1994, has posted $500,000 bond and been released from the Kent County Correctional Facility.

article here.

Rolls, 47, is facing four charges of first-degree criminal-sexual conduct, potential life offenses if he's convicted. Three of the charges involve sex assaults of a child. Another allegedly occurred when the victim was 17.
He’s also accused of using a computer to solicit another to tamper with evidence, and tampering with evidence, both 10-year felonies.

What should the mindset of a judge be?

SCOTUSBlog has an 8-part interview with 4th Circuit federal judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, who has established a sturdy reputation as a "conservative" judge, but nails what the mindset of a judge needs to be:

article here.

From the interview:
I think when judges sit on the bench — this applies at all levels — we don’t really think about ourselves as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’ Those are labels that people apply to us. And . . . I understand why they do because you have to use short-hand. But, the interesting thing is, I don’t think most judges conceive of themselves as conservative or liberal. We think of ourselves as judges first and foremost . . .
Scotus blog link. 

It's still November, which is still Adoption Awareness month

A few links for adoption information: 

Bethany Christian Services

Federal government profits on student loans by $41.3 billion

The federal government made enough money on student loans over the last year that, if it wanted, it could provide maximum-level Pell Grants of $5,645 to 7.3 million college students.

The $41.3-billion profit for the 2013 fiscal year is down $3.6 billion from the previous year but still enough to pay for one year of tuition at the University of Michigan for 2,955,426 Michigan residents.

article here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What has changed in law schools in 25 years, and what hasn't?

The Lawyers, Guns and Money blog posts some feedback about its earlier entry, about law schools losing money.

From the article:

For example, at the University of Michigan, all the traditional first-year classes continue to be taught, and continue to be taught in very large sections, as they were when I was a student there in the mid/late 1980s. First-year students still take Contracts, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law — exactly the same courses I took as a first-year in 1986. Indeed three of these courses are being taught by the very same professors I had nearly 30 years ago. (The one significant alternation to the first-year curriculum is the addition of a Legislation and Regulation class, as law schools are now beginning to acknowledge that knowing something about the contemporary administrative state may be of more practical relevance than memorizing The Rule In Shelley’s Case.)
full article here. 

You think that legal writing requires legalese? (on writing well)

"Legalese" is a term given to phrases like "indemnify and hold harmless:" not everyone knows what it means, but since it sounds legal, lawyers can get away with using it, even though they shouldn't. Or even though they're sometimes not sure themselves what the "terms of art" mean.

One of my favorite reads is the monthly legal writing article in the Michigan Bar Journal. It's often written by Joseph Kimble, who is responsible for the Legal Writing classes I took in law school. His approach to legal writing is that it's something that shouldn't require a law school degree to interpret.This approach is also called Plain Language, or Plain English. It's not been wholeheartedly embraced by the legal profession, which is, not surprisingly, slow to change.

Anyway, this month's Bar Journal has another great column by Professor Kimble, titled "You Think the Law Requires Legalese?" From the article:

"lawyers tend to greatly exaggerate the extent to which the law requires specific, unalterable wording in legal and official documents. . . .
research show[s] that the terms are unnecessary, troublesome, best used together with plainer terms, or replaceable with a plain equivalent.  For example: give, not give, devise, and bequeath; interest, not right, title, and interest; together and individually, not jointly and severally.
  . . . Terms of art are more rare and more replaceable than lawyers think. . . . The law is no serious obstacle to writing clearly and plainly. 
 Full article here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Driver arrested in Ohio for car's secret compartment filled with . . . nothing

Norman Gurley, 30, is facing drug-related charges in Lorain County, Ohio, despite the fact that state troopers did not actually find any drugs in his possession.
Ohio passed a law in 2012 making it a felony to alter a vehicle to add a secret compartment with the “intent” of using it to conceal drugs for trafficking.

article here.

Alcohol, intoxication and age: Does drinking change as you get older?

Your ability to drink changes as you age, according to the studies in this article.

Article here.

London police rescue 3 women held captive for 30 years

LONDON — Three women have been freed after spending 30 years held captive in a south London home, police announced Thursday, including one woman believed to have spent her entire life as a virtual slave.

article here. 

10 things not to say if you want your marriage to be healthy

Keep your marriage healthy & don't say these things!

article here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Supreme Court justice interview - now on Youtube

In case you missed it, the interview of Justice Thomas is available to be viewed on Youtube.
Initial article appeared here.
Youtube version here.

Secret NSA court order released allowing collection of internet data

A secret court order that authorized a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on Monday night, among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program.

article here

Default rates on student loans are skyrocketing

article here.

Law Schools losing money?

Paul Campos, the University of Colorado law prof (and Michigan grad) who gained fame and notoriety as the anonymous "scamblogger" of the since-retired Inside the Law School Scam blog, writes on on his new blogging homesite, Lawyers, Guns & Money, that he has looked at the operating budgets of a "representative sample" of law schools and estimates that 80-85% of law schools are losing money -- about 15% in real terms down from three years ago. 

article here.  

Michigan parent enters plea deal after allowing 9 year old son to drive

A Michigan woman charged with allowing her 9-year-old son to drive around their neighborhood has entered plea deal in the case.

WHMI-FM reports that Leah Jaglowski, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday to allowing an unlicensed minor to drive. In exchange, a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor is being dismissed.

Article here

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

George Zimmerman charged with aggravated assault and domestic violence.

George Zimmerman, acquitted in July in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was arrested Monday afternoon for allegedly pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend and pushing her out of her house as he packed to move out, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.

Zimmerman, 30, was booked for aggravated assault with a weapon, a felony, in addition to misdemeanor battery-domestic violence and criminal mischief. Scheibe was not injured.

article here. 

What is Michigan law for self defense? Prosecutors mull charges in woman's death

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. — Prosecutors said Wednesday that they are reviewing possible charges against a suburban Detroit homeowner in the shooting death of a 19-year-old woman on his porch earlier this month after police provided additional material they had requested.

Article here. 

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in, said Curt Benson, who teaches at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. “But if they’re not breaking in, you have to show you honestly believed your life was in danger,” Benson said.
“We don’t expect homeowners to behave perfectly. We don’t expect perfection. The standard is reasonableness,” Benson said.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Work and live in Michigan? Have student loans? Tax break time!

Students who stay in Michigan after graduation could be in line for a tax break on their student loan payments under a bill that advanced out of a state Senate committee on Wednesday.

Article here. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

MEA defends itself in Right-to-Work suit

Doug Pratt, temporary director of member benefits for the MEA, said Thursday that the case has nothing to do with right to work but is instead about enforcing contracts between the union and its members.

article here.

"Membership organizations don't go around marketing how to quit. That's not how this works," Pratt said.

The Michigan Senate is serious about medical marijuana: Senate OKs pharmacy sale of medical marijuana

A bill that would allow for the growing and sale of pharmaceutical grade marijuana at pharmacies in Michigan passed the state Senate Wednesday on a 22-16 vote.

The bill was lauded by supporters as a way to guarantee a safe, tested product for medical marijuana users. But opponents said it did nothing to address shortfalls in Michigan’s current medical marijuana law and would outsource production from home growers to out-of-state corporations.

article here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Michigan Senate proposes higher penalties for animal abusers

Michigan lawmakers have voted to increase criminal penalties for people who abuse animals and extend the prohibition to include breeders and pet shop operators.

Article here.

Rural counties top divorce statistics in Michigan

LANSING – Couples in rural counties are more likely to split up than those in more populous areas, according to the most recent state data.

Article here. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

630 Pounds of cocaine found on band's tour bus

The Texas Department of Public Safety says all eight suspects face charges of possession of a controlled substance related to the drugs worth $7.3 million.

Article here. 

10 Michigan women deserve to be freed from prison, group says

Ten Michigan women convicted of murder — including a former Farmington Hills fourth-grade teacher who killed her husband with a hatchet — deserve to be freed from prison because they were victims of domestic violence and didn’t get fair trials, a women’s clemency group argues.

article here. 

“These women are not a threat to anybody,” said project director Carol Jacobsen, a University of Michigan professor in women’s studies. “The whole social understanding of battery and abuse has changed since the 1980s and 1990s, when many of these women were convicted. In many of these cases, the abuse was never raised at trial.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Legislative prayers and history: Can towns begin legislative sessions with prayer?

The US Supreme Court is deciding this matter, in Town of Greece v. Galloway.

Article here.

Not law related: homeowner opens bomb shelter from 1961

 . . . . In the backyard of the creative director's mid-century modern home in West Lake Hills is a 1961 fallout shelter in near-mint condition.

Article here.

Among the most chilling artifacts: a Texas highway map posted on the wall. The shelter owner had carefully drawn cross hairs over San Antonio — where U.S. military forces were concentrated — along with what appear to be trajectories for fallout drift. (Oddly, the lines fan out to the southeast, defying the prevailing Texas winds.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Michigan's medical marijuana law "one of the worst" written laws

While sentencing a non-compliant marijuana dispensary owner, Kent County Circuit Court judge Mark Trusock sounded off about Michigan's medical marijuana law.

article here.

"I think the medical marijuana statute has become a nightmare for some good honest people," he said. "It just has to be one of the worst statutes that was ever written and put into place."
"There are courts all over that don't know how to handle it because it was such a poorly written law," Trusock said.

Florida Supreme Court ordered a new trial for death row inmate- two hours from execution.

The Florida Supreme Court is ordering a new trial for a man that's been on death row for 28 years and was once two hours away from being executed.

Article here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The US Supreme Court doesn't necessarily care if your lawyer is unethical

A case from Michigan about what effective representation of counsel means was heard at the US Supreme Court. It turns out, if your lawyer does unethical things doesn't mean they were ineffective as your legal representative.

Article here. (State Bar of Michigan blog)

and here.(from the Atlantic)

.... from the Atlantic article :
"This is what the right to counsel has come to in America. Your lawyer may have violated ethical rules; he may have failed to timely consult with other attorneys; he may have not adequately investigated your case; he may have given you bad advice that leads you to withdraw a guilty plea. And yet the legal standards imposed by the Supreme Court declare that you still aren't entitled to any meaningful relief by the courts. In law school, they call this "a right without a remedy." In real life, it's called injustice."

Michigan judge throws out burial mix-up lawsuit

A Kalamazoo County judge has sanctioned a Southfield law firm and dismissed the lawsuit of a Tennessee woman who was seeking millions for what she claimed was gross negligence by Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park South that led to her parents being buried in the wrong plots at the Kalamazoo cemetery.

Article here. 

“They’re barred by the statute of limitations,” Judge Lightvoet said of the claims in Fish’s lawsuit, “and even beyond that all of the evidence supports the fact that the defendant did exactly what it was supposed to do based on the contracts ... You can’t throw out claims and hope something supports that in discovery.

Motorist sues over cavity searches

Police detained David Eckert for not making a complete stop while exiting a Walmart parking lot on Jan. 2, and officers suspected him of concealing drugs because he "appeared to be clenching his buttocks," attorney Shannon Kennedy told KOB-TV, which reviewed medical records, police reports and the federal lawsuit.

"This is like something out of a science fiction film — anal probing by government officials and public employees," Kennedy said.

article here. 

I'd say this definitely qualifies as an unreasonable search, and a situation where a warrant should not have been granted. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Could you buy medical marijuana from a pharmacy? Maybe.

Buying medical marijuana at your pharmacy may be a possibility, thanks to the Michigan Senate.

Article here.

The bill would: amend the public health code and classify marijuana as a Schedule 2 controlled substance; provide for the licensure and regulation of facilities to grow and test pharmaceutical-grade pot, and allow those facilities to sell the drug to pharmacies to dispense.

Medical marijuana users would have to get an additional, enhanced certificate from a doctor to be able to buy the drug from a pharmacy. The bill also would restrict the sale of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to 2 ounces per month, per customer who is at least 18 years old.

The bill will move to the full Senate, where it will likely face a vote later this week. 

10 tips to avoiding speeding tickets

Richard Diamond has made it his life's work to document how speeding tickets (and others) are issued, and to attempt to change it.

article here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Huffington Post launches product that is "strikingly similar" to Benzie County man's business

National website Huffington Post joined with a restaurant chain to produce a blog with a name, logo and content similar to a Benzie County man's patented, trademarked business model, a move that raised questions about whether the AOL-owned media property copied his concept.

Article here.

Timothy Young, proprietor of Food for Thought in Honor, launched his business in 1995. Food for Thought sells organic food products while advocating for what Young calls an equitable food system.

Hat-wearing man gets contempt fine in Kent County

Cameron Lasenby, a 29-year-old Northeast Side resident was waiting for a friend’s sentencing in the courtroom of Kent County Circuit Court Judge James Robert Redford when, as a courtesy, the judge informed everyone that the hearing had been adjourned.
Cameron had sat patiently with everyone else, waiting for more than an hour with his hat in his lap on Monday, Nov. 4.

Article here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Declining LSAT participation numbers - again.

The number of people taking the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) continues to decline. Article here.

Michigan Bar Exam results - statistics before appeals

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners has released the statistics of the July 2013 bar takers.

Click here.
 or click here.
Overall, the passage rate is slightly up (60 percent). The link has the breakdown by school.

T-shirt maker sues the NSA and DHS over his t-shirt designs.

An American T-shirt maker sues the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security over his t-shirt designs.

Article here.

Dan McCall sells T-shirts, mugs and posters, often with satirical messages. To ridicule electronic surveillance disclosures, he paired the NSA’s official seal on T-shirts for sale with the slogan: “The only part of the government that actually listens.”

McCall, who runs from an office in his home, filed the suit last week in federal court in Baltimore. He says the agencies violated his First Amendment rights, and is being assisted in his suit by Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog organization.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Legal jobs on the upswing, notes legal job website

The legal market is not all that glum anymore. Jobs in the legal sector are increasing says LawCrossing, reporting more than 38,900 active openings on its site. Article here.

Kwame Kilpatrick's attorneys give notice they will appeal his corruption conviction

In the "good luck with that" department: Kwame Kilpatrick's attorneys gave notice they intend to appeal his corruption conviction, that resulted in a 28 year sentence for the ex-Mayor of Detroit.

Article here.

Billboards attempting to inform jurors concern prosecutors

 The billboard is part of a growing national campaign to encourage jurors who disagree with a law, or think a punishment is too harsh, to vote for acquittal.
Article here.