Equal Justice Under Law?

She has a good point.  Welcome to Washington Senator Elizabeth Warren.

She has a good point. Welcome to Washington Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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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.
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Pure Michigan: Pot Tourism the Next Big Thing?

Seems there are several states where federalism is challenging our conventional wisdom about pot.  What looks to be a new and developing trend is the development of several state laws dealing with a range of issues the U.S. Congress has failed to keep up with the times.  These new laws deal with the right to possess and use marijuana, gay marriage and limits on guns and bullets.

It could be that the so-called Blue states, where Democrats dominate the state political landscape, are passing laws which legalize personal use and possession of small amounts of marijuana, allowing gays to marry and more strictly regulating assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
Several large states mostly in the west have recently decriminalized pot (eg. California, Oregon and Colorado).  Interestingly, Colorado and New York have passed tough regulations on assault weapons and large capacity magazines.  Gay marriage is now legal in 4 states and looks to be coming to even more of the so-called Blue states.
Could it be we are heading for two Americas?  Some so-called Red states are busy with a right-wing agenda to criminalize abortion after just 6 weeks, seek to regulate immigration and create hurdles for people to vote.  The later is a tactic largely used to suppress the minority vote.
Are states simply reflecting local culture or are they simply reflecting the politics of the dominate political party?  Money seems to be the fuel in this new legal development on both sides.
In Colorado the new argument of legalizing pot is that is will be economically beneficial to the state’s economy.  Amazingly we are about to witness Marijuana tourism in Colorado.  Crafty entrepreneurs want to develop travel around the evil weed.  The Oakland County (Michigan) Press reports that a start up company in Colorado wants to put together travel packages for pot users.
Interestingly the Obama Administration has said that it will enforce federal law which outlaws pot and pot sales.  The Huffington Post reports that the Obama Administration faces a big decision on pot after the medical marijuana legalization across the nation.  It seems that the Obama administration has reprioritized the war on marijuana and is not spending much energy bringing cases against users.  However, the administration has continued in various states including California to enforce the marijuana laws in California by shutting down distribution centers for medical marijuana patients.
In Michigan, prosecutors have continued to act as if the medical marijuana statute does not exist.  The Attorney General Bill Shutte has sought to find nearly every aspect of the new law illegal.  Surprisingly Democrat prosecutors in larger cities have taken up the cause against pot.  Those that do so are not in tune generally with their constituents in the Democratic Party.
Many Democrat Prosectuors continue to punish medical marijuana users with a special vengeance.  Policies of those prosecutors who are largely located along the I-75 corridor from West Branch to Monroe really show little difference between their Republican colleagues.
The Michigan media has played little on the political implications of opposition to marijuana among younger voters who are becoming a powerful force in the Democratic Party.  Further, there is a growing impatience with the wasting of financial resources on the War on Drugs which has been an obvious failure.  Its success has more to do with the employment of police and criminal justice professionals than stopping drug use and possession.  It cannot be seriously argued such a War has been successful if measured by continued presence of drugs like marijuana on the streets of Michigan’s major cities.
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see if mandatory drug treatment will emerge in the Blue States in lieu of criminal sanctions.  In other words, California style justice would put more focus on rehabilitation on drug users and less emphasis on punishment such as large fines and jail sentences.
Lastly, an interesting but largely unreported development in Michigan is the releasing of thousands of drug addicts from Michigan prisons by the Republicans.  Sssshhhhhhhh they don’t want anyone to know they are actually soft on crime.  Since the prison population in the state reached its peak of 53,000 the Republicans have continued with a passion the release of prisoners, closing of prisons and lessening of the sentences of drug addicts by changing the sentencing guidelines.  Michigan now holds approximately 43,000 prisoners today.  A number that is still historically outrageous.  in the mid-1960′s we had just 13,000 in our state prisons.
Its easy to see why Michigan was nearly bankrupt and spends more on prisons than education.  When you fill up the prisons with drug offenders its cost alot of dough.  The Republican legislature and the Governor have quietly been re balancing that equation.  It is a comedy show indeed to see the justifications for walking back from the tough talk on crime.  Michigan will continue to see a decline in prison population driven by our lack of tax revenue to support prisons in the near future.  I suspect that a more nature figure for our state is somewhere in the low 30,000 range.
Be prepared to see more drug courts, alternate programs for drug addicts and alternatives to incarceration such as tethers, etc.
In the meantime, court Pure Michigan be promoting a tour to a medical marijuana resort on one of our Great Lake shorelines?  How about Mackinaw Island?  Sounds crazy today but if Colorado is any indication of our future we could be in for tourism packing bongs and pipes rather than bikes and snowmobiles.  Who would have thought that could ever come to Pure Michigan?
Arthur A. Busch.
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The Long Journey to Bloggerville

It 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!
Regards,
Arthur
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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 regarding public comment time.  The Flint Area Chamber of Commerce did just that.  This luncheon event is guaranteed to 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 to be 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 to be considered 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.

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