Michigan’s Top Court Denies Parole Hearings to Juvenile Lifers

Michigan Supreme Court Denies Parole to Juvenile LifersEver since the Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama in 2012, juvenile rights advocates have been fighting to get Michigan to protect juveniles’ rights to parole. But a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling has made it clear that any relief will have to come from the federal courts. (more…)

Supreme Court: To Search a Cell Phone, Get a Warrant

Supreme Court Tells Police to Get a Warrant to Search Cell PhonesWhat’s the difference between a cell phone and a purse? A recent U.S. Supreme Court says a whole lot. In a decision that experts are heralding as huge step in digital privacy, the court gave clear instructions to police: to search a cell phone, get a warrant. (more…)

MI Supreme Court Undercuts Right to Attorney

Right to Attorney doesn't include the right to know one showed up.You are sitting in jail, being questioned by police. You assert your right to an attorney so they put you in a cell. After sitting there over night you decide to talk and ask for an attorney again. Your lawyer shows up, but is told to wait in the lobby while the police have you sign a Miranda waiver and make a confession. Is there a problem? (more…)

Supreme Court Says Chemical Assault Isn’t a Federal Case

Federal Ban on Chemical Weapons Doesn't Apply to Domestic AssaultsIn 2006, Carol Bond made a bad decision. She used a chemical designed for developing photographs to literally burn her husband’s lover. She spread the chemical on door knobs, car door handles, and mail boxes to make the lover develop a rash. There is no question that what she did was illegal, but did it violate a federal ban on chemical weapons? (more…)

Is Surrogacy Legal in Michigan?

Is Surrogacy Legal in Michigan?You and your spouse want to have a child, but you are unable to carry a child to term. You have explored your options and have found that there is no way for your wife to bear the pregnancy. What do you do? Is there another legal option? (more…)

Parents Count As Victims for Criminal Sentencing

Victims' Parents Get a Say at SentencingOnly certain people have a say in your sentence during a criminal case: the judge, the prosecutor, the probation department, your attorney, the victim, and now the victim’s parents. The Michigan Legislature recently passed a bill that will allow the parents of a victim to complete a “victim impact statement” if the actual victim is a child or mentally or emotionally unable to participate him or herself. But could this soon-to-be-law result in stricter punishments to please pushy parents? (more…)

Michigan Court Overturns Truancy Based on Bullying

Bullying As a Defense to Truancy?In a rare published juvenile appeals case, a Michigan Court of Appeals struck down an adjudication (like a criminal conviction for children) for truancy because the student’s absences were the result of bullying. The opinion told juvenile court referees and school administrators that they have to take this kind of thing seriously. (more…)

The Problems With MDOC’s New COMPAS Program

MDOC's COMPAS program should not appear in courtThe Michigan Department of Corrections’ (MDOC’s) program COMPAS puts a computer between the offender and the judge. But the science and the details of this computer program raise a lot of questions for criminal defense attorneys, who plan to object to its use in court. Here’s why. (more…)

Would You Want Your Sentence Calculated By a Computer?

What do you think of the new COMPAS sentencing program?Over the years there has been a trend to limit judges’ discretion when it comes to sentencing. It prompted the statutory Sentencing Guidelines and required probation departments to perform pre-sentence investigations of people who commit felonies and certain misdemeanors. But what if that job were turned over to a computer? (more…)

Prosecutor Claims Meth Is a Weapon, Appeals Court Says No

Image Source: Methamphetamine Treatment Project, http://www.methamphetamine.org

Sentencing, especially after a plea agreement, is often based on little more than a conversation between the prosecutor, defense attorney, probation officer, and judge about what happened in the case. In felony cases, those facts are plugged into a statutory guideline, which gives the judge a range of time for incarceration. But what happens when one of those factors gets stretched out of shape? (more…)