Monthly Archives: February 2012

Snyder signs [NEW] ‘super drunk’ driver legislation

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation Wednesday allowing communities to enforce  ordinances aimed at drunken drivers with very high bodily alcohol content (BAC).

“Stiffer penalties against “super drunk” drivers – those with a BAC of 0.17 or higher – took effect in 2010. Because that law raised the maximum prison term for offenders, law enforcement officers were prohibited from writing tickets for high BAC violations under local ordinances,” stated mich.gov.

The law was intended as an enhancement penalty for driving a vehicle while intoxicated with the higher BAC levels. However, municipal attorneys did not have the authority to prosecute offenses where the punishment exceeded 93 days in jail.

The law signed raises the penalty to 180 days, and the fine to a maximum of $700 if blood alcohol content is 0.17, or higher giving municipal attorneys the authority to prosecute, and law enforcement officers authority to write the tickets.

For your own sake, and that of others, please don’t drink and drive.

via The Examiner

Advertisements

SEARCH AND SEIZURE: A GUIDE TO RULES, REQUIREMENTS, TESTS, DOCTRINES, AND EXCEPTIONS

A SEARCH is by definition an invasion of privacy. Prior to Katz v. U.S. (1967), privacy was defined in terms of the trespass doctrine, but since then, a “reasonable expectation of privacy” doctrine has prevailed. Only what people themselves deem “private” and what society recognizes as private are protected. The Fourth Amendment does NOT protect against all invasions of privacy; it only forbids unreasonable searches and seizures.

Technically, the Fourth Amendment says that all searches are to be conducted under authority of a warrant (the warrant rule). Warrants can be issued to search premises (dwellings), vehicles, or persons. The Fourth Amendment also states that probable cause (the probable cause requirement) should form the basis of warrants, supported by oath or affirmation. There are different definitions of probable cause, from what a person of reasonable caution or prudence would believe in connection with a crime or criminal offender to what would make a reasonable person to more probably than not believe a guilty rather than innocent interpretation of facts, hearsay, or a combination of the two. The trend is toward the “more probable than not” test. For example, in informant law, the Aguilar test (1964) was established approving anonymous informant tips if (a) it could be shown the informant was reliable, and (b) some underlying information could be provided to show how the informant reached the information in their tip. This two-pronged test was replaced by a “totality of circumstances” test in Illinois v. Gates (1983) in which a reviewing magistrate uses practical common-sense, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit, to decide if there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.

Continue reading

Hazel Park auto repair owner charged with running a chop shop after man spots stolen car

HAZEL PARK – The owner of a Hazel Park auto repair business is charged with operating a chop shop after police say a stolen car was spotted being towed out of the shop by a man who recognized the vehicle.

The car, a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, was stolen along with several other vehicles from a yard at an auto repair business in Detroit the day before.

A man from the Detroit business was in Hazel Park on Thursday when he saw the Malibu being towed out of the Parkway Auto Parts & Service shop, 23891 Dequindre, police said.

“The car looked familiar to him and matched the description of one of the vehicles stolen from his place,” Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner said. “He followed the tow truck to a scrap metal yard in Warren on Grosebeck.”

The man confronted the tow truck driver and the owner of the scrap yard.

“He had the  VIN numbers of the vehicles that had been stolen from the Detroit business with him,” Barner said. “The VIN number he had for the Malibu matched the one being towed.”

The man then drove to Hazel Park and alerted police, who went to Parkway and ended up arresting owner Christopher Morad, 25, of Shelby Township.

Morad was arraigned Saturday before Hazel Park 43rd District Magistrate Kim Wilson and released after posting $5,000 bond.

Police said they found a Jeep Liberty that had also been stolen from the Detroit auto business at the Parkway location.

Police also confiscated 10 engines and seven transmissions at Parkway and they are investigating to determine whether the parts are also stolen, Barner said.

“There were hundreds of car parts strewn everywhere,” he said. “It didn’t appear that there were any repairs going on.”

Morad is charged with one count of operating a chop shop, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

He is scheduled for a preliminary examination in Hazel Park 43rd District Court at 1 p.m. Feb. 21.

via Daily Tribune

Witness error: How mind tricks can put the innocent behind bars

Dorothy Canady said she would never forget the man who shot a retired New York City police officer, but at trial she identified Juror No. 6 as the assailant. Another witness to the crime said the attacker was a black man with braids, yet he picked an Hispanic man with short hair out of a photo lineup.

Though the jury laughed when Canady fingered one of their own, and despite other discrepancies among the accounts of other witnesses to the fatal shooting in a Harlem numbers (illegal gambling) parlor in 1998, Jon-Adrian Velazquez was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Today, he is fighting to clear his name from a cell in New York’s infamous “Sing Sing.”

“The eyewitness misidentification is the central and critical reason for his wrongful conviction,” said Velazquez’s attorney Robert Gottlieb, formerly an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. “There is no other evidence in this case that could possibly be the basis for a guilty verdict other than the eyewitness identifications that were false. Unfortunately this story is not … so unique.”

While hundreds of convicts have been freed from prison after being exonerated by DNA evidence in recent decades, many others who proclaim their innocence from behind bars don’t have that recourse because no such evidence exists. In many instances, their efforts to gain freedom boil down to their words against those of witnesses to the crimes they allegedly committed.

But in part due to the DNA exonerations, there is increasing concern about the reliability of witness identification in criminal cases. That, in turn, is forcing courts, state legislatures, police and district attorneys across the country to review convictions and make changes in the ways they collect what can be make-or-break testimony from witnesses to a crime.

“We have come a long way since the days when people accepted without question an individual who would take the witness stand, point to the defendant and say, ‘I’ll never forget his face, that’s the person I saw,’” said Gottlieb. “It really was not until the advent of DNA analysis that we have been able to show that eyewitness identifications are one of the weakest forms of evidence.”

The Innocence Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to freeing the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing and to criminal justice system reform, has helped win freedom for nearly 300 prisoners in 35 states — including 17 who spent time on death rows — in its 20 years of existence.

In 75 percent of those cases, the leading factor in their convictions was witness identification; in 36 percent of those cases, convictions were in part based on an identification made by more than one person, said Karen Newirth, eyewitness identification litigation fellow at the Innocence Project.

“Our DNA exonerations represent really just the tip of the iceberg … because they are the only cases where DNA exists in the first place,” she said.

Those cases include rapes, murders, robberies and other crimes. The Innocence Project said experts estimate that DNA testing was possible in only 5 percent to 10 percent of all criminal cases.

“Many of the kinds of crimes where eyewitness misidentification come up are excluded because they are not the kinds of cases where DNA would ever have existed,” Newirth said. “We can only say for certain how prevalent it is in our cases and then assume that that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.”

Continue reading

Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal

Drug warriors often contend that drug use would skyrocket if we were to legalize or decriminalize drugs in the United States. Fortunately, we have a real-world example of the actual effects of ending the violent, expensive War on Drugs and replacing it with a system of treatment for problem users and addicts.

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half:

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

Many of these innovative treatment procedures would not have emerged if addicts had continued to be arrested and locked up rather than treated by medical experts and psychologists. Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time.

None of this is possible when waging a war.

via Forbes

Medical Marijuana Cases Require Experienced Medical Marijuana Lawyers

Caveat Emptor. The Latin phrase means “buyer beware”. We’ve all heard that term before. It advises buyers of goods and services to be cautious and to beware. This warning of caution applies equally to patients, caregivers, business owners and others who are facing criminal charges in medical marijuana cases. In fact, given the hostility of prosecutors and the courts to the Medical Marijuana Act, citizens are advised to be hire only an experienced medical marijuana lawyer to defend them in a case.

How do you identify an experienced medical marijuana attorney? Many general practitioners or general criminal defense lawyers claim (and that is the key here, “claim”) to handle these cases. Beware of these lawyers. In fact, be afraid of them. Caveat Emptor. These lawyers will devote a page or 2 on a website written by some web design company to medical marijuana cases. You can look at their sites and see that the language is not their own: they “dabble” in these cases. They view them as similar to other cases but they are much different.

Would you let your family physician perform open heart surgery on you? Would you let a pediatrician, a kids doctor, perform a spinal fusion if you needed such a surgery? No. You would go to a specialist. Someone who is trained and has focused experience in handling those surgeries. Not a generalist. Why would you handle this any differently? Is it less important? Is your freedom not important to you?

A current court of appeals judge has indicated a belief that medical marijuana act is unconstitutional. He has cited something called the Title Object Clause. Were you aware of that? Is the generalist, dabbling lawyer with a paragraph on his website devoted to this? I doubt it.

These cases require lawyers who are intimately familiar with the battles over MMMA. Neil Rockind PC is at the forefront of these battles. Check it out. Google his name. Google our firm’s name. Check out our firm blogs. Insiders consider us the premiere medical marijuana defense firm in town. Rockind won medical marijuana cases in Oakland County….few can make that claim.

Don’t be fooled. Hire a seasoned medical marijuana lawyer not a dabbler.