Category Archives: Courts

Hearing could lead to disenrollment of 200 Saginaw Chippewa tribal members

More than 200 members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Mount Pleasant are expected to face the possibility of disenrollment from the tribe Thursday.

The issue was prompted by different interpretations of how enrollment is determined in the tribe’s constitution.

Paula Fisher is the attorney for the members facing disenrollment. She said originally their cases were dismissed with prejudice five years ago, but the tribe re-wrote the enrollment ordinance which changed the rules.

She said if the members are disenrolled it would impact them in a number of ways.

“It can mean their jobs if they were hired based on a preference for Natives. They can lose their positions,” Fisher said, “They can lose their homes if they live on trust land and built homes on trust land. They can be required to leave. But they certainly won’t have health care benefits. They won’t have access to the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver. So if they’re in the middle of getting their college degree or in many cases advanced degrees the funding that they were counting on to better themselves will dry up and it will no longer be available.”

She said there are a number of issues behind the move to disenroll members. One of them is that the amount of money the tribe pays its members from casino profits is declining.

“There’s been a downturn in the gaming industry in Michigan for a couple of reasons,” Fisher says, “One is there’s a lot more casinos that there was 10 years ago. And another is so many people left the region. So the gaming dollars are fewer and there’s much more fierce competition for them so yes revenue is definitely down.”

She said other contributing factors to disenrollment center on whether leader are in favor of certain ways of tracing membership and there are mixed feelings in the tribal community.
A spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe declined to comment on the disenrollment issue.

Thursday’s hearing is expected to last several hours. Fisher says a decision on whether the tribe can move forward with attempts to disenroll members is expected as early as Friday. The hearing is not open to the public and only certain tribal members are allowed.

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MI Supreme Court: Juvenile lifers won’t be re-sentenced

Michigan Hall of Justice. Courtesy Wikipedia User Jeffness.

Michigan Hall of Justice. Courtesy Wikipedia User Jeffness.

The Michigan Supreme Court says felons sentenced as juveniles to life without parole won’t get new sentences. That’s despite a US Supreme Court ruling that says it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
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MI Supreme Court: Judges can’t impose fines for court costs on their own

gavelThe Michigan Supreme Court says judges can’t order people convicted of a crime to pay the costs to the legal system — unless it’s been specifically allowed by the Legislature.
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Michigan Supreme Court takes two more medical marijuana cases

11602888-medical-marijuana-stamp
The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear two more medical marijuana cases. Two medical marijuana cardholders want the state’s highest court to rule that a voter-approved law shields them from criminal charges.
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Michigan Supreme Court strikes down “one parent” doctrine

gavelA Jackson County man will get a hearing on whether he gets to keep his kids after a ruling today (Tue.) by the Michigan Supreme Court.
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MI Supreme Court says governor cannot un-commute life sentence

gavelThe Michigan Supreme Court says a governor cannot reverse an official decision to commute a prison sentence. Tuesday’s ruling means a man sentenced to life in prison for his part in a murder now has a chance at freedom.
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U.S. Supreme Court issues decision in Vanderbilt Casino case

gavelThe U.S. Supreme Court today (Tuesday) ruled against the State of Michigan in its lawsuit against the Bay Mills Indian Community for operating a casino in the village of Vanderbilt in Otsego County.
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Schuette: Judge’s marriage decision an “affront” to voters, democracy

Attorney General Bill Schuette (R-Midland).

Attorney General Bill Schuette (R-Midland).

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a brief with a federal appeals court seeking to overturn a judge’s decision to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In the filing, Schuette says the case is about voters’ rights, not the right of same-sex couples to get married. Read more

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Energy company agrees to pay $5 M anti-trust fine

Oil Pumps
An energy company has agreed to pay a $5 million dollar fine and plead no contest to a misdemeanor anti-trust charge as part of a plea deal. Under the bargain, Encana Oil & Gas USA also promised to help the state pursue legal action against another oil company.
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Awaiting the Vanderbilt Casino decision

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The US Supreme Court is nearing the end of its term, and a number of important opinions are expected over the next few weeks. Read more

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