Thursday, October 29, 2015

The July 2015 Michigan Bar Exam results have been released

The list of certified passers (before appeals) of the July 2015 Michigan Bar Exam has been released by the Board of Law Examiners.

See the list here. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The federal government wants to adopt plain language - really! (Novel concepts in the law, Part Two)

One of my favorite parts of law school (please excuse this trip down memory lane) was taking writing classes. My school required two of them: Research and Writing (first year class), and Advanced Writing (usually a third year class). Research and Writing taught a research method and introduced the concept of "plain language." Advanced Writing made more targeted use of those skills through writing briefs, usually intended for an appellate case. (I also took another writing class, because I am a glutton for punishment, which I did as a directed study. Ask me if you ever want to see it, it's about the US Supreme Court's interpretation of the Americans with Disability Act, and other cases related to that).

The idea behind plain language is that a legal writer should make it easy for a reader to find the meaning in any document, and be able to understand what the writer is trying to convince the audience to do. This means using almost no "legalese," which might confuse the reader. Legalese would be something that sounds traditional and impressive, but actually makes its meaning more difficult to determine. For example, the phrase, "indemnify and hold harmless," where both terms could mean the same thing to a reader.

Brian Garner is often given credit for many of the plain language ideas. He's written books on the subject, and has (what I would think is) a dream job -- he edits other people's work to make it more reader-friendly, for use in legal briefs, and other documents. He is also cited as a source for
this government article on writing for your audience.

But - back to Novel Concepts in the Law: Plain language is a great way to win cases! Write for your audience, even if the audience is different from each other. The judge will know the law, go ahead and write a brief on what you're doing. But don't get all technical & weird in the writing. Make sure 1) your client understands why you're doing what you're doing, and it's good if they can understand your argument in the Brief and 2) the judge will have an easier time agreeing with you if you can make the writing easy for him or her. Just show that you know the law, too, and that it agrees with what you're trying to do for your client!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Backers of Marijuana petitions feel confident regarding ballot proposals

Competing groups racing to put marijuana legalization questions on Michigan's 2016 ballot claim they are raising enough cash to get to the finish line, but one has temporarily "paused" signature collection and both still have miles to go.

The Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee, known as MI Legalize, raised about $137,000 in the latest fundraising quarter and has now pulled in around $308,000 for its petition drive, according to campaign finance records filed with the state on Monday.

Article here (via mlive). 

Michigan law maker proposes new Sex Offender Registry changes after 1,000 ft radius declared unconstitutional

Portions of the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) law were declared unconstitutional earlier this year. That's because the requirement that people on the SOR were supposed to stay at least 1,000 feet from a school at all times.

Article here.

But never fear, Michigan law makers are ready to amend the 1994 legislation - yet again- to re-include the 1,000 ft requirement, and in such a way that the law would not be considered over-broad.  

More details to follow. . . .

Monday, October 26, 2015

Korean War veteran suprised to receive his medals . . . 63 years late

 Dennis Williams still has the government-issued U.S. Army combat boots he received in 1951, when he was drafted to fight in the Korean War.

But it was the surprise he received a few weeks ago that will complete his collection of memorabilia. After fighting 63 years ago in the war, Williams received three medals — two Korean Service medals, one with three Bronze stars, and a National Defense medal.

"Somebody contacted me from the Pentagon," the 85-year-old said. "They sent me a letter."

Article here (via 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Do you know the first step in becoming a foster parent?

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services has a number to call where you can speak to experienced foster parents. It's 855-642-4543.

(The first step is to be licensed as a foster parent.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

U-M Library acquires Dr. Jack Kevorkian's papers

The doctor was best known for his advocacy in favor of physician-assisted suicide and in addition to manuscripts, drafts, photographs and court records, the collection now open to public study contains extensive "medicide" files.

Those files, organized under the term Kevorkian used for assisted suicide, include medical histories, photographs and recordings of consultations with patients relating to many of the cases.

Article here (via

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Insane Clown Posse fans (aka "Juggaloes") have standing to sue US Department of Justice

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently released a published opinion holding that the plaintiffs, four self-described "Juggalos" and two members of the band Insane Clown Posse, had standing for their claims against the US Department of Justice and the FBI that they suffered violations of their First and Fifth Amendment rights.

Article here (via Speaker law firm blog).

This case arose out of a Congressional report for the National Gang Intelligence Center. Back in 2001, the report determined that Juggaloes are in fact, members of a gang, although loosely organized. In return, some Juggaloes filed suit, claiming that this had a chilling effect on their First Amendment rights to association.

Cyber-squatting case in Grand Rapids: Defendant denies "nefarious intent"

Joe Bliss, who has been accused of cyber-squatting Grand Rapids businessman and triathlete Ryan Leestma, acknowledges he set up a website using his former boss' name.

The man admitted posting news stories about Leestma and sharing his Facebook posts, originally published on others' pages.

But a "nefarious intent?" No, he said.

Article here (via mlive).