Newburg Law Blog

Trial Court Used Wrong Evidentiary Standard When Changing Parties’ Custody Arrangement

by: Matt Newburg

March 21, 2018 at 9:17 AM EDT

A trial court improperly applied a “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine that it was in a child’s best interest to change the established custodial arrangement, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in Griffin v Griffin.

According to the Court of Appeals, the key in custody modification cases is for the trial court to first find – by clear and convincing evidence – that the proposed change is in the child’s best interest. To do this, the trial court...

The End Of Michigan's Driver Responsibility Fee: What You Need To Know

by: Matt Newburg

March 12, 2018 at 2:45 PM EDT

Legislation ending Michigan’s much-despised Driver Responsibility Fee was recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Driver Responsibility Fee was an additional expense tacked onto certain driving offenses. The extra fees ranged from $100-$500 per year for motorists with 7-15 points on their driving record, plus costs of $150-$1,000 annually for persons convicted of a category 2 driving offense, such as operating a vehicle with a suspended license or drunk driving. If the fee was not paid,...

Divorcing Party Could Not "Change Mind" About Mediation Agreement

by: Matt Newburg

March 6, 2018 at 2:32 PM EST

A party in a divorce action could not claim the mediation agreement he signed was unenforceable simply because he changed his mind and “regretted making the agreement,” the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled.

In Rettig v Rettig, a published and binding opinion, the Court of Appeals emphasized what it has said several times in previous decisions: parties in a divorce proceeding cannot assert that a valid mediation agreement is unenforceable just because they change their mind after signing...

Defendant Wrongly Convicted Of Both Larceny "In A Building" And Larceny "From A Person"

by: Matt Newburg

February 26, 2018 at 6:30 PM EST

While the larceny may be “from a person” or “in a building,” both cannot occur at the same time and a person cannot be convicted of both crimes, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in People v Williams.

“The fact that the victim of a larceny from a person is in a building at the time of the larceny, is not sufficient to convict of larceny in a building,” the Court of Appeals held in Williams, a published (binding) decision. “Thus, although a defendant may be...

A Quick Look At Michigan's Implied Consent Law

by: Matt Newburg

February 20, 2018 at 7:52 AM EST

Michigan, like all other states, has what is called an “implied consent” law for drivers who are arrested on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving. Michigan’s law, MCL 257.625c, says that as a privilege of having a driver’s license, you give consent to a chemical test if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence.

When it comes to implied consent, a law enforcement officer can choose whether you take a breath,...

Are “Implied Consent” DUI Laws Unconstitutional?

by: Matt Newburg

January 9, 2016 at 4:26 PM EST

All 50 states currently have “implied consent” laws for drivers who are arrested on suspicion of drunken-driving and who are asked to submit to blood-alcohol testing. However, these implied consent laws are currently facing a constitutional challenge in the nation’s highest court.  Under state implied consent laws, when you get your driver’s license, it means you have also automatically given consent to blood-alcohol testing if you are ever suspected of DUI....

Michigan Court of Appeals Decides "Drying" marijuana Issue

by: Matt Newburg

January 9, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST

The Michigan Court of Appeals has, yet again, upheld a conviction of a Michigan Medical Marijuana Patient and Caregiver. In a 2-1 opinion, the Court addressed the meaning and consequences of marijuana that is found to be in the curing stages.  In People Rocafort, an unpublished opinion, the Court held the marijuana seized by law enforcement was dried marijuana--despite having moisture--and exceeded the amount of marijuana Ms. Rocafort could possess under the Michigan Medical...

Legislation would make police body camera footage unavailable to the public

by: Matt Newburg

December 16, 2015 at 8:54 PM EST

A bill has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature that would exempt from public disclosure video and audio footage recorded by police body cameras.

Senate Bill 634, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), would amend the state’s Freedom of Information Act to exempt certain audio and video footage from being made public. 

Jones has said he introduced SB 634 on Dec. 3 because a policy needs to be in place to protect the privacy of individuals. According to the senator, not all...

Marijuana decriminalization in Grand Rapids withstands legal challenge

by: Matt Newburg

December 13, 2015 at 8:51 PM EST

The decision of Grand Rapids voters to decriminalize marijuana possession by amending the city charter will remain undisturbed, now that the Michigan Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the law’s constitutionality. 

In 2012, more than half of Grand Rapids voters amended the city charter and made marijuana possession a civil infraction, with fines ranging from $25 to $100. But Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth challenged the amendment, claiming that voters could not trump state...

Police ‘Knock-and-Talk’ Procedure Upheld by Michigan Appeals Court

by: Matt Newburg

December 8, 2015 at 8:50 PM EST

A “knock-and-talk” procedure used by law enforcement, which led to a search of the defendants’ homes and the seizure of marijuana butter, did not violate the defendants’ constitutional rights, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in a 2-1 decision.

In People v. Frederick and People v. Van Doorne, the defendants had medical marijuana cards and had obtained marijuana butter. When executing a search warrant at the defendants’ homes, narcotics officers knocked, waited a few...

A More Peaceful Divorce Process

by: Kristin Arnett

May 2, 2016 at 6:22 PM EDT

Divorce is difficult. Divorce is emotional. Divorce is expensive and time consuming. Even if you think that you don’t have a lot of “stuff” or you believe that you and your spouse “agree on everything,” rarely is that actually the case. Even if you don’t own much property, chances are you do have debt, which must also be divided. Whether you have been married five, ten, or fifteen years, you have accumulated things; you have joined two lives into one that now must be...

A bad romance: Can I get back that gift?

by: Kristin Arnett

March 3, 2016 at 11:03 AM EST

When a marriage ends in divorce, the courts help divide the parties’ personal property. However, the same cannot be said for dating relationships that fall apart. So what happens with any gifts that are exchanged during a romance that ultimately fails?

The general rule of gift-giving is that the giver relinquishes all rights as soon as the item is accepted by the recipient. Acceptance of a gift is usually obvious, through a hug or kiss, and then the recipient taking possession of the item. 


Can one attorney represent both parties in a divorce?

by: Kristin Arnett

February 19, 2016 at 8:11 AM EST

In situations where both parties want to end their marriage and agree to the settlement terms, the parties often wonder whether they can hire one lawyer to handle the case. This request is usually made to help keep down the legal costs.

The rules of ethics for Michigan attorneys, however, do not permit lawyers to represent both parties in a divorce. 

Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 1.7 says a lawyer “shall not” represent a client if the representation of that client will be...

Custody, Support & Parenting-Time Order Properly Entered Without Mother’s Signature

by: Matt Newburg

January 26, 2016 at 10:22 AM EST

A custody, child support and parenting time order based on the parties’ signed mediation agreement was properly entered by the trial judge, even though the mother disavowed the agreement and refused to sign the order, the Michigan Court of Appeals has decided.

In Kleinjan v. Carlton, the parties had a child together, but were not married. The father filed a complaint requesting legal and physical custody of the child, child support and supervised parenting time for the mother. The parties and their...

Mandated joint custody bill is getting an icy reception

by: Kristin Arnett

November 5, 2015 at 8:32 PM EST

Legislation that would require courts to award joint custody in divorce cases is being criticized by trial judges and family-law practitioners as being ill-conceived and not in the best interests of Michigan children.

House Bill 4141 would mandate that trial courts order joint custody unless there is clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit, unwilling or unable to care for the children.

Trial judges assert that HB 4141 eliminates their discretion in custody and parenting-time cases, while...

Do You Know Where Your Will Is?

by: Kristin Arnett

February 6, 2016 at 7:33 AM EST

When the time comes to find a family member’s will, it often turns into an unwanted game of hide-and-seek: the person who has died stashed the original document somewhere, and now others must try and find it.

It’s understandable that people want to keep their wills private. After all, a will contains personal information. 

But the original of a will should not be hidden from everyone. The person for whom the will was drafted and at least one other individual need to know where the will...