What Does Legally Insane Really Mean?

2/3 of Jail Prisoners are Mentally Ill

Image Source: National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1DOJ.shtml

It is estimated that nearly 2/3 of all inmates in local jails around the country suffer from a diagnosed mental illness. But if so many people who are convicted of crimes are mentally ill, why don’t more of them plead insanity? The answer is they may just not be crazy enough. Read the full post »

Michigan Upholds Prosecutors’ Duty to Investigate Crimes

Prosecutors Must Provide Exculpatory Evidence to DefendantsThis may come as a surprise, but in criminal cases, prosecuting attorneys are required to investigate the possibility that defendants are innocent. They have a constitutional duty to turn over evidence tending to prove a defendant’s innocence even when that information was known to some other government entity, like the police. For a long time that duty required the information to be otherwise unavailable, but not anymore. Read the full post »

Divorce Trials Can Be Hell For Domestic Violence Survivors

Divorce Can Be Hell for Domestic Abuse SurviorsDomestic violence is a part of hundreds of thousands of Americans’ lives every day. A woman in the U.S. is beaten every 9 seconds. Legal clinics and shelters like the Family Law Assistance Project and Haven in Oakland County help survivors get away from abusive partners. But divorce can be a painful and sometimes dangerous part of the process. Read the full post »

Michigan Considers Law to Regulate Collaborative Process

Michigan Considers Regulating Collaborative DivorceThe phrase “Collaborative Divorce” has been something of a trend among family lawyers over the past decade. Informal organizations like the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan, exist to offer training in non-adversarial conflict resolution and help people find trained attorneys and professionals. But there has been no law regulating the practice. Now the Michigan legislature is considering a bill that would formalize and regulate the process. Read the full post »

Michigan Lets Biological Parents Skip Court for Adoptions

Parents can now give up their children privatelyChoosing to give up a child is one of the hardest decisions a parent can make, especially when the decision requires her to publicly declare her desire to terminate her rights. But a new law in Michigan will give parents and guardians the option to make that decision privately while still protecting their rights. Read the full post »

Can I Lose Custody of My Kids Because I Get Sick?

Can I lose custody of my kids because I'm disabled?It may be hard to believe, but over 10,000 Americans received Social Security disability insurance in 2013. Another 26.2% of Americans suffer from mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. So what happens when disability intersects with the family court? Can you really lose custody of your children just because you get sick or injured? Read the full post »

Students’ Hair Cuts Cause Suspensions

Can a school control a student's haircut?

Sunnie Kahle, 8, said she misses play time the most. Her grandparents withdrew her from school after complaints about her hair and clothes. (Source: WSET/CNN)

School dress codes were big news last week as two separate stories spread over social media about young girls suspended for their haircuts. The stories are different, but both had the same core question: what right does a school have to dictate the physical appearance of its students? Read the full post »

Free Exercise of Religion Hits Close to Home in Ferndale


Ferndale Public School District logo

The Ferndale Public School District has had to change its hiring policy after the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy discovered that the current policy explicitly favored “non-Christians.” In a district that is racially and religiously diverse, the policy came as a surprise and required a quick response. Read the full post »

Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Declared Unconstitutional

Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down as UnconstitutionalThe day that many Michigan residents have been waiting for has arrived. On March 21, 2014, after an 8 day trial, Federal District Court Judge Bernard Friedman (a Reagan appointee) has declared the Michigan Marriage Act (MMA) unconstitutional. While the effect of the decision was stayed by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on March 22, 2014, the opinion itself will be difficult to overturn. Read the full post »

School Silences Students to Avoid Pro-Life Messages

School Silences Students to Avoid Pro-Life MessagesIt is not often that civil rights activists agree with the Thomas More Society. The two groups are usually at odds on social issues. But when a Washington high school changed its policy to prohibit all expressive speech rather than allow a pro-life student group to hang posters, the two groups suddenly found themselves on the same side of the argument. Read the full post »