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Michigan judge upholds police overreach

Michigan Judge Michael J. Callahan, after (I have been told) a bare fifteen minutes of oral argument from each side, affirmed the conviction of Negeen Mayel (of the Acts 17 group arrested in Dearborn) for failure to obey an officer's order. This ought to be a somewhat surprising judicial decision, as there are extremely serious constitutional problems with Negeen's arrest and procedural problems with her trial. I discuss the Thomas More Law Center's legal brief on the case here. The appeal ought to have been a knock-down. A little googling on the judge turns up this story, which shows at least that Callahan has had a somewhat stormy relationship with laws he considers insufficiently liberal. Whether that's relevant to his casual decision in Negeen's case, or whether he is simply upholding whatever the police do on autopilot, I don't know.

The vexing thing is that, according to David Wood in the comments thread at Answering Muslims, it appears that Negeen cannot demand an appeal through to the Michigan Supreme Court (which might be more reasonable than Judge Callahan). I don't understand exactly how this works, but apparently an appeal can be requested, and the request may be denied.

Meanwhile, Thomas More has a federal suit already filed against the Dearborn police & co. Good. This one obviously needs to be fought on multiple fronts.

Comments (4)

I don't understand exactly how this works, but apparently an appeal can be requested, and the request may be denied.

Was this the court of appeals disposition? That's interesting that the Michigan Court of Appeals hears cases by individual judges, instead of as panels (or was there a panel and Callahan just wrote or issued the opinion?). But fifteen minutes is pretty standard: I'm sure if you were to look in the Michigan Court of Appeals rules or rules of appellate procedure that's the time limit set for all litigants.

As for right of review, courts of last resort all have discretion over their dockets now: except for very unusual cases (death penalty cases, usually, and sometimes a few other kinds), getting into a state supreme court, much like getting into SCOTUS, is not guaranteed. You file a petition for review (certiorari, transfer, whatever you call it in your state), together with a brief saying why it should be granted, but the supreme court doesn't have to hear you. You get one stage of appeal as of right, and that's it. The caseload is just too heavy to permit multiple appeals as of right.

Got it. So it's like the SCOTUS agreeing to hear a case. Same deal at the state level. Well, hopefully they'll agree. At least it's up to the SCOM and not up to Callahan!

My understanding is that Callahan is state circuit court. Next it would go to the appellate court, which evidently can agree or refuse to take the appeal.

Based on about 30 seconds of looking over the Michigan civil procedure and appellate rules, it looks like the Circuit Court in Michigan exercises some forms of appellate jurisdiction and that, while appeals will lie to the Court of Appeals from the Circuit Court, some of the Court of Appeals' jurisdiction is also discretionary. See Michigan Court Rules Chapter 7. It would thus generally appear that Michigan's judicial system is sufficiently idiosyncratic to render me thoroughly incompetent to speak about it absent far more research.

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