Art in Court Kayla RollandMany Michigan District Courts allow for diversion programs which basically give you a period of probation and if you do follow the requirements of the programs such as taking a class, not getting into further legal hot water and staying in school or keeping a job you will not have a criminal record and the matter will disappear as if it never happened.  This is not true in all Michigan Courts and for all criminal misdemeanor defendants.  For example, if you have a prior MIP or other alcohol related criminal offense it could result in denial of the diversion programs.

However, many courts in Michigan do offer a diversion program. This is especially the case for the major colleges in Michigan and the Flint area.  There are some colleges towns that make it difficult to get into a diversion program or simply won’t offer a first offender a chance at a clean record.  That is where you really need good, experience legal counsel.  Two such places are Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University and in Saginaw County with Saginaw Valley University.

The MIP Diversion Programs don’t usually start at the first hearing called an arraignment.  Many judges won’t counsel a student or person under 21 years of age as if they are your buddy to plead not guilty and see the prosecutor.  That is why having experienced an MIP attorney to guide you is critical even at the earliest stage of the case.  The arraignment is simply the time when a MIP offender is informed of the charges against them and then enter a  plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest (Which is basically Guilty without Admission).  The only plea at arraignment in most instances for an MIP defendant is Not Guilty if they want a shot at diversion and keeping a conviction off their record.

If you are given diversion this means probation with special conditions.  In a college town like Flint, East Lansing, Ann Arbor or Mt. Pleasant that could mean hundreds of new probationers each school year and big caseload.  So Judges are careful not to fill up the rolls with students that are not contrite and qualify for the program.  Often they leave it to the Prosecutors to figure out if one is worthy of such diversion program treatment during the plea bargaining process.

I have had experience where some District judges will let student or under 21-year-old simply plea guilty at arraignment and not offer the diversion program to students unless they either hire an attorney or negotiate this resolution with the prosecutor on their own.  That clearly is because they want to make double sure the student defendant qualifies for the local court diversion programs.  So hiring an experienced MIP lawyer is very important at this stage.

Occasionally a very kind and compassionate District Court Judge will let student plead guilty at the arraignment and sentence them to the MIP diversion Program where you would get lucky and not end up with a criminal record.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE IN EVERY COURT!

In progressive towns like Ann Arbor the judges and prosecutors have worked together to offer diversion at arraignment. They have you complete an intake form and then if you qualify they offer the diversion program in exchange for a guilty plea.

There are things that can go wrong even in these seemingly progressive cool towns like Ann Arbor.  If you plead guilty and you have a prior MIP or you have used up your diversion program chance in the past or have other pending legal cases you could be in hot water!!!  For example, the penalties could be more severe and you may get denied the diversion program after further investigation of your past by the probation department.  At that point you have already entered a guilty plea and you get to take your medicine for the habitual offender MIP offense.  That is why having a good competent MIP lawyer near your side even in what may seem like a harmless situation is a smart thing to do.  PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS and don’t get talked into doing dumb things simply to make a court docket move faster.

Diversion Programs and How They Work—–

In an MIP diversion program, an underage drinker or  student is put on  probation for 3 months to a year in most cases by the judge as recommended by a probation department. You could be ordered to  attend an alcohol awareness class,  attend several sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous, give breath samples at your local police department or a specialized center for alcohol testing or attend alcohol counseling or therapy. The programs vary by District Court.

Michigan law provides for a Diversion Program in such circumstances.  In all Michigan court diversion programs defendants must enter a guilty plea before the door is open to entry into the program.   In addition, the judge “may” place the minor on probation and require other terms. Therefore, it is not an automatic that the judge will grant diversion programing. Most diversion programs in Michigan are six months of probation with fees, classes and alcohol testing.

Unlike nearly all other criminal matters a diversion program for MIP is not made part of the public record so long as you comply with the conditions of your program or probation and the case is then dismissed by the court.

In other words, even though the police issued a ticket for MIP, summons you to court and faced the probation program you would not have to declare on an application for a job or answer questions to a college recruiter or admissions office that you a criminal conviction of a misdemeanor MIP. This is true even though you are on probation at the time.

If you flunk out of the diversion program by not paying your fine, failing alcohol breath testing, not attending your classes or counseling then you would be subject to immediate conviction of the MIP misdemeanor after a court finding that you did not follow the court’s Order of Probation or Diversion Programing.  So at that point, it is too late to run to your family lawyer to seek help.  Thus, getting an experienced and competent MIP attorney beforehand to know if you have a good defense to the MIP charge is desirable.  It could be that you would be able to fight the case before you have to even be placed on a diversion status.  The law is full of ambiguity and technicalities.  That is what lawyers do is find the legal problems in the case and bring it to attention of the Prosecutor and Judge.  Hopefully one of these will apply to your situation and help you avoid a lifetime record of conviction.



MIP is a Misdemeanor

MIP is a Misdemeanor

The Flint area is becoming increasingly a college town with an estimated 25,000 students now enrolled in the four largest colleges and universities in Flint, Michigan, the University of Michigan-Flint, Baker College, Mott Community College and Kettering University.  Along with a growing nightlife scene and the lure of fun and peer pressure comes drinking….even if the young person is not of age to drink alcohol.

That of course could lead to the first big mistake getting ticketed for being a minor in possession of alcohol.  The way the courts handle these seemingly small matters can have a huge and longer term impact on young students than they realize.  These offenses are increasing in number.

Having legal counsel by your side may result in the type of advice that keeps your record clean and out of sight of college recruiters, employers and yes off those applications for graduate school and licensing boards.

MIP in Michigan is serious business.  Michigan has some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to underage drinking.

Contrary to your mother and father’s generation when for many it was legal to consume alcohol at 18 years of age it is not a MISDEMEANOR for a person under the age of 21 to consume or possess alcoholic beverages.

Most misdemeanor crimes cannot be expunged from your permanent criminal record history.  In many cases MIP can be erased from your record if handled properly.  Michigan does not have a criminal record expungement law for misdemeanors as it does for certain felony crimes.  It seems unfair and it is unfair to stigmatize a minor mistake of youth for life.  Alcohol related offenses such as Furnishing a Fake ID to get or have alcohol, furnishing alcohol to minors, drunk or impaired driving are life offenses when it comes to your criminal record.

Clearly the consequences for alcohol related offenses are very serious considering the cost of today’s education, the length of time you have to carry around a criminal record and the possibility you cannot pursue your dream to become a license professional or enter some other line of work that requires background checks.

You need an experienced MIP attorney when you face an alcohol related charge.  The stakes are high and the changes you can represent yourself without legal counsel and get the best results are a risk you cannot afford.

If you need have a need to find an honest, competent and experienced MIP law please call (810) 732-9400 today for a Free Consultation.  Our fees are reasonable and we enjoy working with young people who want a vibrant and successful future.

ACLU Urges Detroit To End Illegal Practice of ‘Dumping’ Homeless People Outside City Limits, Files DOJ Complaint

ACLU Urges Detroit To End Illegal Practice of ‘Dumping’ Homeless People Outside City Limits, Files DOJ Complaint

The news that the Detroit Police Department is removing homeless people and dumping them outside the city limits of the City of Detroit brought back old memories of the 1980’s in Flint.

Before I recount my experiences as a young lawyer suing the City of Flint and its leaders way back in the 1980’s for the same thing, I need to bring you up to date on what is happening in Detroit these days. The ACLU reported in their daily news blast that they are investigating numerous reports of kidnapping and false imprisonment by Detroit Police of indigent homeless people who are being removed from the streets of Greektown and other happening places in Detroit. To watch video of some of the men telling their stories, go to http://www.aclumich.org/issues/homeless/2013-04/1831

It was not so long ago that the Flint Police Department engaged in this same conduct. It resulted in criminal convictions of several police officers and large settlements for civil rights violations.

Back in the mid-1980’s Flint tried to turn its economy around by building a tourist attraction near downtown. The area was well known to be full of prostitutes and johns looking for hookups. AutoWorld as it was known was built not far from this former red light district that was full of street walkers

These undesirable women were the bane of City Fathers who felt they would ruin the image of the city to tourists. So these leaders conspired to violate the civil rights of numerous women by ordering their removal from the streets of Flint. The idea of course was to discourage them from hanging out at the gates of the Six Flags Theme Park.

In the case of my client, she was a student not a streetwalker. She just happened to live a few houses from where she was abducted by the City of Flint Police as she was walking to her home. She was taken away in the nighttime to the suburban countryside of Genesee Township several miles from the near downtown area.

The results were disastrous for the city. This bad behavior by police left a black mark on the City of Flint Police Department’s reputation. It is hard to imagine what a sworn command officer is thinking when they come up with such ideas.

Seriously, in the United States of America the police are the police really going to get away with forcibly relocating Michigan citizens as has happened in Flint and Detroit just as if they were in the former USSR taking people away to work camps in Siberia? What could possibly give rise to such abusive and irrational behavior and policies by police officers?

What the hell is next? I bet the cops up at Bellaire, Michigan would like to take filmmaker Michael Moore away to the deep woods of the UP a little further from the bright lights of Traverse City where he causes so much uproar speaking his mind and attracting the ire of the NRA gun huggers.

Back to Flint, attorneys Robert Segar, the late Judge Kenneth M. Siegle and myself brought a successful lawsuit against the City of Flint and deposed its Mayor, Police Chief and top police command officers about their actions. As you would expect they all pointed the finger at each other and did not accept responsibility for what clearly was a stupid decision made at the top. The officers involved admitted that they were directed to remove what they thought were prostitutes from the AutoWorld area but denied beating them up. A jury disagreed.

A Flint jury found several of these officers guilty of attempted battery in a compromise verdict. They were represented by the very able and flamboyant Pontiac attorney Elbert Hatchet of Pontiac who arrived each day for trial in a big fancy limousine. That spoke volumes about empathy for the poor victims of the police he represented. I like Elbert Hatchet but never understood his insensitivity to the poor of Flint during that trial.

The county prosecutor at the time was Robert E. Weiss. He was a right-wing zealot who was afraid to challenge the police. Rather than charge the officers with a felony of neglect of duty or felony kidnapping he opted to charge a misdemeanor and of course left the jury with little room to debate. I always thought that decision was very wrong and it was one of the many reasons I ran against him and defeated him. Weiss’s charge sent the wrong message to the police. It signaled that abuse of the poor was just a little bit wrong rather than entirely unacceptable.

A person who is sworn to uphold the law and engages in violent criminal conduct and then covers it up should not be treated in a political fashion. That person needs the full force of the law to face them in order to make an example to the public.

Felony charges, especially against police wrongdoers sends a serious and unmistakable message that the system does not tolerate police who become rouge. Police behavior as seen in Flint in this case and now alleged in Detroit essentially hijacks our justice system.

What if those cops went to the large banks in Detroit and pulled that same stunt to the CEO’s of the auto companies who are hanging out at Starbucks or at the fountain at Hart Plaza? What if the cops simply said to the businessmen we don’t want you around here anymore hauling them off to Livingston County or Ionia? Then what happens?

Of course heads would roll and prosecutions of cops for a laundry list of felony offenses would be issued. This is precisely why those in the Detroit Police Department should now be investigated for criminal misconduct and neglect of duty and prosecuted if the evidence supports it as the ACLU seems to suggest in its news blast.

I am not betting that anyone in the City of Detroit under the new Emergency Manager is going to uphold the rights of the poorest among us.

The better question is will the Wayne County Prosecutor stand up for the poor? I wonder if the Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy would put the same amount of energy into this case as she did the sex scandal of the former Mayor. She should and never give it a second thought. I think Prosecutor Worthy is an honorable woman with a deep respect for justice and it would not surprise me to see her take a strong position on this matter. She ought to at least acknowledge her office is looking into these appalling allegations.

In reality, police kidnappings and false imprisonment are far more important laws to uphold and essential to our collective freedom than a disgraced former Mayor lying about having sex with an aide. The Wayne County Prosecutor should be leading this investigation not the ACLU.

Not to engage these allegations is to allow Detroit to slowly slip into a totalitarian state where the government decides where you live, where you sleep and where you eat. That is wrong and un-American and I can think of nothing more important for the Detroit officials to do but to uphold the rule of law. We all have a stake in the good work of the Department of Justice investigators and the Wayne County Prosecutor.

Republicans Block Judicial Nominee Because She Sued Gun Manufacturers

Caitlin Halligan had one major fault in the eyes of the minority party in the United States Senate. She worked on lawsuits against gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association didn’t like her.

Caitlin was nominated twice by President Obama to serve as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

She was by all accounts highly qualified for the job. Halligan serves as general counsel in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and served as solicitor general for New York state.

That means she was the top lawyer representing the state of New York before its highest court. Last I checked that is one of the biggest states in the nation.

It appears that the Republicans are setting a new standard for judicial appointees. That standard has nothing to do with qualifications, personal integrity or professionalism it has to do with which business or interest group donates and supports your party.

Justice in America suffers from such corruption. In days past the minority party accepted that the President has a right to appoint judicial nominees who are competent and reflect his vision and philosophy. No longer is it the case that the court can be considered truly non-partisan if this is the way things are going in the future.

Appointment of Judges should be not subject to the Senate filibuster rules. In order to be appointed today a person needs 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. This rule encourages corrupt practices and influences. The NRA is an interest group representing gun manufacturers. Seems to me that taking that into account should pretty much discount entirely their opinion given they are on the other side of the law in a potential or active litigation with Mrs. Halligan’s client.

Its my view a criminal investigation needs to begin by the Department of Justice into whether or not the votes or actions of Republican Senators are tied to contributions made by the gun lobby and particularly the NRA. Buying votes is illegal. Buying votes to stop lawsuits is even more corrupting of our judicial system. Political retaliation such is obvious in the Halligan case could amount to obstruction of justice.

There is too little notice of the sly and slick quid pro quo deals involving votes in Congress for huge contributions by business organizations today. To an ordinary citizen like me it is all too obvious something is afoot.

I would like to see a grand jury look into this case to decide what business people and their lobbyists, who have a pending investigation against them, said to Senators who considered this nomination. Are they trying to obstruct justice by punishing a highly qualified woman seeking a seat on a very important court? Her only sin was doing her job as any lawyer would. That should not disqualify her from confirmation and holding judicial office.

Chamber of Commerce Hosts As Speaker a Criminal Defendant While Case is Before the Jury?

If you want to keep the crowd down to a minimum then you would invite as your guest speaker someone who intentionally broke the rules of a pubic body about public comment time.  The Flint Area Chamber of Commerce did just that.  Guaranteed this luncheon event will go well past its announced time.  You will have to take the afternoon off to hear this speaker.  The speaker is going to talk about his ongoing criminal trial.  Not a very smart thing to do.

In my view, Eric Mays has abused his privilege for many years during City Council meetings.  Note he is not on the council although he has tried to get elected a few times.  He essentially is very good at creating a circus at times by taking over the meetings with rants.
Eric talks well beyond the time allowed by the rules of Council and that which is necessary to get his point across.  I must admit I do that myself in court from time to time. While the City Council can gab with the best of them there are people who actually have real business before the Council and deserve to have it considered and heard.  Eric’s rants have made sure they wait a long time to get their business done.
The media has fueled the fire for Mays, who revels in the media attention he generates from his rants, by treating him as if he really did have something serious and logical to say. It is entertaining at times and this case points to one of those times when the Council leadership finally had enough of his disruptive behavior.
Apparently someone at the Flint City Council finally decided they were going to enforce the rules and called the police.  Mays apparently resisted them and was then arrested.  He is now trying to turn that court case into another way to get attention.  Most people would be embarrassed to put themselves in such straights……not Eric.  So the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce invites him to speak during the trial?  What kind of wacky stuff is that?

If Flint is every will become a town with any hope it has to dispense with the nutty stuff.  Treating bad behavior as legitimate political involvement is unacceptable.  It diminishes the seriousness of the business at hand.  This is yet another example of using the courts as a place to make some type of political statement.  I hope the Judge and jury in this case take it serious and send a powerful message about decorum and respect.

Long Way to Bloggerville!!

ImageIt has been a long journey for this website.  WWW.ARTBUSCH.COM has been through a journey from the late 1990’s when it was created by former Genesee County Sheriff Ives Potrofka and then later updated about 2005 by Brendan Chard of the Modern Firm.  I owe both of these men a debt of gratitude for the good advice and outstanding work they did on my behalf.  

I first used this website as a political tool to support my work as the Genesee County Prosecutor.  I used it in my campaigns and to communicate with supporters about my activities and accomplishments. 
My last run for pubic office was in 2000 so after that the site was used mostly to tell folks about my work in the Prosecutors Office.  This site has been paid for privately and from my own funds and not government monies or some rich donor.
In 2005 I retired from the Prosecutor’s Office and turned the site into a law firm website to support my law practice.  It was in 2005 that I met Brendan Chard and he then put the site on a modern footing updating it.  Since that time it has been a popular site and highly ranked on Google Search Engines.  
However, late last year I decided it was time for me to use this site and to put it up on yet a more modern platform and chose Network Solutions to help me do so.  The staff there was wonderful and they helped me where I had a few questions.  
What I am really saying is that I learned how to do this web development myself!  Amazing.  I was always interested in learning how to do it but just never gave it the time.  What an exciting adventure.  I even developed a mobile website that is now up and launched to support my law practice.   
So after three redesigns and platform updates this site still stands and grows.  In one week we had 500 visitors and I have yet to promote it.  
So just what will become of my efforts?  
Some of you might remember way back in the late 1990’s I was the first to blog about local politics by using E-Mail and sending it to my list of supporters.  I remember the Flint Journal writing about.  They of course were rather negative because I wrote a piece on Woodrow Stanley and how I thought he might be one of the most unpopular politicians in Genesee County.  Of course I was right at that time!  He got recalled not long afterward.  He has remarkably made a political comeback.  Sorta ….he lost the election for the State Senate last night to a fine young State Representative James Ananick.  Hopefully Jim will win the General Election and fight his best to bring work to the Flint area.
This will not be a political blog however as I envision it.  I want to talk about the law and local courts and administration of justice in Michigan and our communities in Southeastern Michigan.  We will post interviews here with professionals involved in the justice system.  I want to make the blog brutally honest, interesting and real.  
Because this is a site that is devoted to my new law firm (which has just recently relocated to Grand Blanc and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan),  I hope to discuss the changes in laws, court decisions and how the laws that were passed are working in our region.  
Lastly, I want very much to interact with you the public and my clients about the issues, policy and the players who bring us justice everyday.  So let it all begin and hopefully like my Facebook site we will share information and points of view.
Thanks to all of you who have supported my law practice which generates the funds to do this work and to all those who involved themselves in my political campaigns and efforts.  The best is yet to come!