Lessons in how NOT to make a drug arrest

LAKE ORION, Mich. (AP) — Police in suburban Detroit said they made the right decision to use a 14-year-old boy last month in a sting to bust a suspected drug dealer.

They did not.

Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh said such cases involving children are rare, but that the matter was handled appropriately and that the teen wasn’t at risk.

Right. So, they’ve made a determination that this guy that they just needed off the streets so badly that they used a 14 year old to arrest him is NOT going to be a risk to this kid when he gets out of jail? Or, do you just mean that the kid was able to walk up to the guy and buy marijuana with no issues? Huge difference when talking risk, y’know?

At the core of this issue is that police did not take the time to weigh the consequences of their actions. This is evidenced by saying that the teen was not at risk.

“We had a situation where the man next door had been trying for months to sell marijuana to this teenager and he (the boy) told his mother who went to us for help,” Narsh said. “Since we believe he was targeting teenagers, the only way to get him off the street was to arrange a buy.”

They employ an interesting definition of the word “only” out in Lake Orion, I see. I don’t profess to be a police officer or know the best maneuvers that police can make. But, this is awful police work and everyone involved should be embarrassed.

He noted that 17-year-olds participate in stings for illegal tobacco sales and 19-year-olds are involved in stings targeting illegal alcohol sales.

This strikes me as maybe the most ridiculous aspect of this. Oh, so, they sent the kid into an established business that maybe was breaking some rules? Not at all. There’s a difference between drugs being sold from random homes and alcohol being sold in an established building.

Later, they say that the guy they arrested was a “monster.” I mean, monster’s aren’t known for their retribution or anything, are they?

But, seriously, lets not pretend that this is a situation that a 14 year old should be tossed into just because police think they’ve minimized his risk. Anyone who thinks confidential informants and cooperators aren’t at risk simply because they have police monitoring their moves should read this article from the New Yorker.

We do a lot of poor things in the “war on drugs.” I don’t want to turn this into a rant about the ways in which law enforcement has failed society, but, just that we do a disservice to everyone in society when we put our young people at risk. Not just a 14-year-old as in this situation, but, when we use college-aged kids in this confidential informant situations. The New Yorker article above mentions a story of a 19-year old in Detroit. Arrested for a small amount of marijuana. Killed for then setting up the person who had sold her the marijuana.

Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the criminal case, said it didn’t approve of the tactic.

Credit to their Office for making this decision.

But, wait! The Lake Orion police are not done, they are about to double down on their flawed logic:

“I’ve had a case in our town where a 12-year-old was snorting heroin,” Narsh said. “Here you have a situation where someone is approaching potential teenage customers. It’s a sad reality but we have to devise ways to deal with it and stop it.”

No one is saying “don’t devise a way to deal with it and stop it.”

I think the response is going to be more on the line of, “hey, don’t devise the laziest way possible to deal with it and stop it.”

Because, hey, why take time to make a case against the guy without using a 14 year old, when you have a 14 year old ready to get his Serpico on, right? Shameful.

Things you Shouldn’t Do While Cooking Meth in a Wal-Mart

It’s a short list, because most people, when they ask themselves the question, should I cook this meth in a Wal-Mart, the answer is decidedly no. But, the list has to exist for a reason. On that list?

  1. Don’t shoplift while Cooking Meth in a Wal-Mart

That is the extent of the list. However, a woman in South St. Louis County apparently did not adhere to that rule.

A customer cooking a so-called “one pot” batch of methamphetamine inside a pop (*Editor’s Note: Soda, fool*) bottle in her purse caused the Thursday night evacuation of the South County Walmart store.

The woman was caught shoplifting an item unrelated to meth-making when store security and then police discovered the 20-ounce bottle, St. Louis County police Lt. Mark Cox said.

I had no idea you could cook meth in a 20-ounce bottle. But, I haven’t watched nearly enough Breaking Bad.

I guess the convenience of cooking meth in a Coca-Cola bottle makes sense these days. What, with people always on the go, who wants to cook meth in their basement and deal with having to clean that mess up? In a society where Twitter has become King, of course Meth is going to become portable.

“There are lots of one-pot cooks,” Cox said. “But taking it into Walmart is very unusual.”

Lets just go ahead and add the words, “that I know of.” to the end of that sentence, Mr. Cox.

Cox said it did not appear the woman was trying to steal any of the ingredients used in the meth-making process and did not begin making the concoction inside the store.

This is really the best part of the story. She got stopped stealing just random goods. But, I guess on the bright side the woman was extremely confident in her ability to Retail Fraud.

Lansing State Journal News Article on East Lansing Veterans Court

There’s not much I can add to this news article on the 54-B District Court in East Lansing Veterans Court program. So, I’m basically just passing along the link to anyone who should happen to stumble across this page. The article is a worthwhile look at the Veterans Court.

I don’t have personal experience with the Veterans Court, yet, but, any time you have a court that can specialize in the needs of a certain aspect of the criminal justice system, it’s a good thing. Especially when you’re talking abut something as important as giving a fair chance to our Veterans that might find themselves tangled up in the Court System. Recognizing the different circumstances of those that come in contact with the court system is a step in a positive direction.

“Here’s a guy who (lost an eye) — on our behalf,” Jordon said. “His sacrifice for us merited us doing something for him. Not just cutting him a deal.”

But at the time, Jordon added: “I just didn’t know what to do for him. I didn’t have a plan, a system.”

That has changed.

Jordon, a judge in East Lansing’s 54B District Court, now heads one of the five court programs in the state that focus on treating veterans. Nationwide, there are about 80.

For the rest of the article, again, here’s the link.

Looking at the Michigan Court of Appeals Medical Marijuana Decision

I am still piecing my way through reaction to the Court of Appeals decision on Wednesday regarding the sale of Medical Marijuana. In short, I think this quote from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero summarizes things nicely:

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero decried the outcome Thursday in an official statement and on Facebook.

Bernero called the court ruling a “train wreck of epic proportions” and criticized lawmakers for not clarifying the law in the three years since voters approved it.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? This Lansing State Journal Article should supply background. For those of you who want to cut out the media and just read the case decision, here is that, from the State Bar of Michigan Blog.

So, let’s take a look at this train wreck:

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ABA wants more practical training in Law Schools

I saw this headline, ABA Urges Law Schools to Adopt More Practical Training for Students, on the American Bar Association Journal homepage and it hit home. As a fairly new attorney, close to three years practicing now, it is something I’ve thought about from time to time. Below, a key passage from the short story and then my thoughts on the matter:

“Many new lawyers come out of law school never having drafted a complaint; never having seen a contract; never having interacted with a client, much less an adverse witness,” said former New York State Bar Association President Stephen Younger. However, those same lawyers, in increasing numbers, are hanging their shingles as solo practitioners. “It is a real ticking time-bomb for our profession,” Younger said.

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The Casey Anthony Verdict

Today, Casey Anthony was found not Guilty of first degree murder in the trial involving her young child. The verdict has been met with considerable outrage and shock today. A lot of that is understandable, some of it is not. Because I want to talk about the law and media on this blog, I wanted to take some time to talk about reaction to this verdict.

First, let me state immediately that I have not followed the evidence to a degree that would be necessary to give a definitive answer as to whether I believe the verdict was correct. I mainly want to talk a bit about the reaction. A reaction I’ve seen compared to OJ Simpson on a couple news channels.

The outrage and surprise to the verdict has been overwhelming if you’ve had the tv tuned to CNN Headline News at any point today. Let me say this, there have been lawyers that have handled the matter well in tv pieces today. Nancy Grace is most definitely not one of them. I understand the shock in the eye of the public. I am not saying this as any disrespect to the public, but trials are viewed differently between lawyers and the public. To the public, the trial is about finding out the truth. That simply isn’t the case with lawyers as they need to fight for their side of the case as strongly as they possibly can.

So, it annoys me a bit to see such outrage from attorneys. Because lawyers should know better. To see lawyers-turned-media personalities screaming about this verdict is simply a cry for attention. The shame of it is that pundits like Nancy Grace abuse the memory of the 2-year old who lost her life by exploiting Caylee Anthony for their personal gain.

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Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) – Vital for those between the age of 17 and 21

The last article that I wrote on this blog was about a program called “Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration” held at Lansing Community College. The program was designed to help community youths avoid a future of incarceration.

One thing that I wanted to use this blog to talk about based on that program was a program called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, as it will be referred to in this article. HYTA is vital for those between the ages of 17 and 21 when it comes to the legal process. HYTA allows for the slate to essentially be wiped clean after the defendant completes the terms of their probation.

I do want to first say that this article is intended to just be a brief introduction to what is available with the HYTA process. Any defendant should speak at length with their attorney about their options, I want to raise some points today that hopefully will be helpful at looking at HYTA in a general way, as well as sharing my experiences with this deferral program.

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