Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Store owner guilty of food stamp fraud, money laundering, now accused of avoiding cigarette tax

This guy fits the definition of "doesn't know when to quit."

Fresh from a two-year stint in federal prison, former gas station and convenience store owner Hai “Henry” Bui could be looking at time in state prison for illegally selling cigarettes.
Bui, 41, was released from federal prison on Aug. 27 after he was sentenced to 27 months behind bars in U.S. District Court in July 2011.

Article here.

Survey: 47% of Michigan leaders support Right-to-Work

Just under half of local government leaders in Michigan support the state’s year-old right-to-work law, but they don’t approve of an exemption the Legislature gave to police officers and firefighters, according to a University of Michigan survey to be released today.

article here. 

So, in other words, the law doesn't have as much support as it could, and those who do support it wish that it were written differently, so that police officers & firefighters were treated the same as others.

What to buy that nerdy, weird lawyer on your gift list

Figurines and trading cards!

Article here. (from the TaxProf blog).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Can corporations have a religious viewpoint protected by the Constitution?

That's the issue in the Supreme Court case Sibelius vs. Hobby Lobby.

The question is whether Hobby Lobby, based on the religious objections of its owners can deny its employees health insurance for contraceptives to which they would otherwise be entitled by federal law.

article here. (from the State Bar of Michigan blog), here (Volokh Conspiracy), and here (Balkanization).

Are Florida's advertising restrictions so overbroad that Abe Lincoln would have violated them?

State Bar associations get to write the rules as to how attorneys can advertise in that state. Some states are more restrictive than others. Florida is known for having a rather strict State Bar. And it's advertising rules are currently the subject of a lawsuit.

Article here. 

The plaintiffs (a law firm)
"complain that for decades the Florida Bar has "stood apart from the rest of the nation in the restrictiveness of its rules governing lawyer advertising," but  that now, well, they've really just gone too far . . .Indeed, Florida’s rules are so broad that they would have subjected Abraham Lincoln to discipline for stating, in an 1852 newspaper advertisement, that his firm handled business with “promptness and fidelity”—two words that are no more “objectively verifiable” than those the Bar concludes violate its ethics rules here.

A Year-in-Review of the Michigan Legislature.

Accomplishments this year include:
■ Establishing a hunt for up to 43 gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula, thwarting an anti-wolf hunt group’s efforts to get a repeal of the hunt on the 2014 ballot.
■ Adopting Common Core standards for education, which are a national set of expectations of what students need to know in order to be career- and college-ready when they leave high school. The standards were developed by the National Governors’ Association and have been adopted by 45 states.

Article here. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

What does lake-effect snow look like? A view of Michigan from 438 miles up

When bitter arctic air passes over the warmer waters of the lakes, it picks up moisture that eventually falls as snow if the right amount of ingredients come together. 

article here.

FCC versus Department of Transportation: Can you make a cell phone call while in flight?

The FCC is debating ending the prohibition on in-flight calls. But the Department of Transportation is thinking of creating a ban if that happens.

Article here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What to get for that lawyer on your gift list

The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.

From Above the Law

Motorcycle helmet debate continues in Michigan, where riders can choose not to use helmets

The law allows motorcyclists to ride without a helmet if they are at least 21 years old and and have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years or have passed a motorcycle safety course. . . .
The law repealed a provision in the state vehicle code that required all motorcyclists to wear helmets without exception.
Whether the law has resulted in more motorcycle deaths is a matter of ongoing debate.

article here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A brief history of why law practice has changed

The force that rules law practice today is competition: To comprehend the profession’s economic trajectory, we have to understand the tremendous rise in market competition for legal services.

article here. 

Mr. Mom: Is This a Reality Now? High Achieving Moms Have Stay-at-Home Husbands

There was big news flash splashed across the front page of Sunday’s New York Times: superachieving moms on Wall Street have househusbands! The article pointed to a tenfold increase (since 1980) in the number of women in finance with stay-at-home spouses, allowing them to achieve success without the distractions of domesticity and child rearing.

article here.

Former lunch lady pleads not guilty to bribing students to beat up classmate

The former Campus Elementary lunchroom aide who allegedly paid $1 to have a fourth-grader beaten up by classmates has entered a not guilty plea, according to Grand Rapids District Court records.
Brooke Wilson-Johnson, 19, was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, Dec. 11, but opted to walk into court on Monday, Dec. 9, and make a plea and pay $200 bail for the Oct. 7 incident that got her fired.

article here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Does your law practice need updating? Technology concerns?

Do you have a tendency to be slow to change your ways? Have you resisted changing due to technological issues? It's not just a quaint thing, for lawyers to resist change & act in Luddite-like ways: instead, it's possible that a lawyer who fails to change due to technology could be facing ethical violations.

Article here. 

IRS used Google Maps to spy on taxpayers and organizations

Agents from the IRS are using Google Maps as part of their tool kit to audit taxpayers and organizations, The Daily Caller has learned.
A redacted IRS letter dated Sept. 8, 2011 [Priv. Ltr. Rul. 2013-13-031] reveals that at least in one case the IRS’s examiners used photos of a property, obtained through Google Maps, as evidence to revoke the 501(c)(4) status of a homeowner’s association.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Local public defender to be laid to rest this weekend

The unanimous verdict is that the Kent County Courts Building will be a less interesting place following the untimely death of one of Michigan’s longest-serving public defenders.

Thomas Parker died Nov. 29 at the age of 68, he would have turned 69 next month.

Article here. 

Federal agents say fake IDs produced in Wyoming, Michigan house; sold in Grand Rapids

After a months-long investigation, police have arrested two suspects who allegedly created and sold fake documents, including fraudulent permanent residency cards and Social Security cards, federal records show.

Tito Perez-Mijangos and Joel Baron-Vidal are named in a criminal complaint alleging the two conspired to produce and transfer fake identifications. The arrests are among a string in recent years where fraudulent documents have been produced, often in houses in Wyoming, and sold throughout the Grand Rapids area.

Article here. 

On this day: Prohibition was repealed!

Today is a great day for freedom. On this day in 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, thus repealing Prohibition. I plan to celebrate later with a home-brewed beer!

See: http://repealday.org/
Article here. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

MEA tells legislators Union Bylaws don't conflict with Michigan's Right to Work

Representatives from the Michigan Education Association told lawmakers investigating the union's compliance with the state's right-to-work law that its practices are in compliance with the law.

Article here.

Doug Pratt, the union's temporary director of member benefits, told the Senate Compliance and Accountability Committee on Wednesday that the union's "August window" for member withdrawals was protected by provisions of the right-to-work law passed one year ago.
"MEA is confident that we are consistently and fairly implementing our organization's rules about membership resignation, and that those rules are lawful," Pratt told the committee.

Grand Rapids man who robbed bank to keep home sentenced to prison

A man who robbed a Chase Bank branch on Plainfield Avenue NE in July was sentenced Wednesday, Dec. 4, to two years in federal prison followed by three years on supervised release.

Blaise James Balczak, 44, implied he had a weapon when he handed a demand note to a teller, but he didn't have weapon.

article here. 

Balczak wrote an  apology letter to the bank and the tellers. U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell ordered Balczak to begin his prison term immediately.

Property Owners may face jail time in Michigan anti-blight bills

Michigan cities would have the tools to fight blight in quicker, more effective ways under a bill that passed the state Senate Thursday and are now on their way to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Article here. 

Are you an attorney? Do you always feel pressed for time? Blame law school.

Time management complaints begin early in students’ legal education and generally go unresolved. As a result, practicing attorneys identify time famine as a leading cause of job dissatisfaction. To better arm graduating students, law schools must treat time as an essential component of practice-readiness. Unfortunately, most law schools ignore their students’ time management concerns, despite growing calls for greater “skills” training in legal education.

Article here. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mysterious "tipsforjesus" patron may have visited Michigan

Employees at two Ann Arbor bars have seen some unusually big tips this year.
The Ann Arbor News reports that in September a $3,000 tip was left for an $87.98 bill at Bar Louie and $7,000 for a $200 bill at Alley Bar.

article here.

Why smart people can write so badly

Bottom line: It's content (what you mean to say) versus status (how you say it is so important it gets in the way of how you want to say it.)

Brian Garner, legal writing maven, released an interview with David Foster Wallace that sums this up quite nicely. Article (from state bar of Michigan blog) here.  also article (from ABA journal) here.

Mary Free Bed Hospital sued for discrimination

Grand Rapids - A nursing supervisor is suing Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, alleging the hospital granted a family's request not to have black employees care for a white male patient.
Jill Crane, a nurse and employee of the hospital since 2000, accuses the hospital of racial discrimination in the lawsuit filed Nov. 27 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

Article here.

Not law-related: Santa's NORAD tracker has added fighter jets to the simulator

NORAD, the US (and Canadian) air defense command for North America, has been “tracking” Santa Claus since the 1950s, and this year, for the first time, it’s going to include fighter jets in the animation video  it produces of Santa’s flight. 

article here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How does the law apply to custody of unborn children?

What if a pregnant mother leaves the state, then files for temporary custody in the new state? This isn't just a hypothetical question, it's being played out in a custody battle in New York state between an Olympic skier and his girlfriend.

Article here.

The legal question is whether the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act gives courts authority to determine the custody, or jurisdiction of custody cases, based on the location of the pregnant mother. The tabloid question is who gets to raise baby Samuel Bode Miller-McKenna -- son of Olympic downhill ski legend Bode Miller and a former Marine he met through a "high-end" match-making service -- and where. The New York Times covers the story in "Custody Battle Raises Questions About the Rights of Women."

6 issues the Michigan legislature will likely address before the Holidays

The list:
1. Ban on traditional abortion insurance coverage.
2. Campaign finance reform.
3. Medical marijuana.
4. Education.
5. Medicaid expansion.
6. No fault insurance

Article here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

WSJ: Is now a good time to apply to law school?

As law school class sizes shrink and the legal job market shows signs of life, some industry observers are wondering whether it’s a smart time to apply to law school. It’s a debate that pits optimists against pessimists, both of whom make good points.

Article here. 

Michigan bill would make it easier to take your roadkill home.

Senate Bill 613 would allow a motorist to take the animal for eating and other uses, such as baiting, and keep a written record of where and when it was hit and get the salvage tag later. Finding appropriate authorities to provide a salvage tag after raccoon runovers and deer dents is inconvenient, Sen. Darwin Booher, (R-Evart) said, noting that road-killed animals sometimes stay put for weeks.

Article here.