Happy New Year from Michigan Lawyers Weekly!

As we close the book on 2009, we here at Michigan Lawyers Weekly want to wish you and yours a very happy and prosperous 2010.

In our next issue, Douglas J. Levy asked many of Michigan’s finest attorneys to forecast what is coming in the new year.

Carol Lundberg looks at paternity and adoption conflicts.

Brian Frasier (third person references, YES!) talks to attorneys about a recent lost opportunity medical malpractice decision and the impending death of the Fulton doctrine.

All of that and the second half of our 2009 review, coming up in the January 4, 2010 issue. (The issue that makes contact!)

Malicious prosecution suit fails because prosecutor didn’t rely upon detective’s faulty report for probable cause

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a Troy man’s malicious prosecution suit against the Oakland County Prosecutor and the City of Troy, because the prosecutor

Gerald Molnar was acquitted of sexually abusing his nine year old daughter. During the investigation, Molnar’s daughter told police that Molnar had touched her in a sexual way. However, both Molnar and his girlfriend both told Troy detective Janice Pokley that the charges were brought in retaliation for Molnar threatening to go to authorities because his ex-wife, Renee, allowed her brother, a convicted sex offender, to be around their daughter. Pokley was also told by the girlfriend that she was there at all times when he was with his daughter and the incident did not happen.

Pokley included the daughter’s statement, but not Molnar’s and his girlfriend’s statement, into her report to the Oakland prosecutor.

Molnar brought Section 1983 and 1985 claims against the defendants, arguing that the city and prosecutor falsely created probable cause.

The Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal, stating:

Molnar argues that Officer Pokely (1) fabricated probable cause and (2) failed to disclose exculpatory information. As evidence of these claims, he points to Officer Pokely’s failure to disclose in her police report that his girlfriend corroborated his statements and that Renee’s brother
was a pedophile. However, what was excluded from Pokely’s police report is simply not material to resolving the issue of whose statements the state court relied on to establish probable cause. At the preliminary hearing, the Prosecutor called one witness, Elizabeth. Molnar, in rebuttal, called Renee, Pokely, and Allen. Even accepting Molnar’s allegation that Detective Pokely “knowingly
supplied the magistrate with false information,” Darrah, 255 F.3d at 311, the state court did not rely on her testimony to establish probable cause. Rather, it bound him over for trial based on Elizabeth’s “very believable” testimony. Thus, Molnar’s reliance on Darrah is misplaced, because the state court relied on the victim’s testimony to establish probable cause.

The unpublished opinion can be found here.

USDC(EDM): Disabled OU student can stay in dorm

A college student with an “intellectual disability” has a civil right to live in an Oakland University dorm with his friends, thanks to an order by U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Duggan.

The student Micah Fialka-Feldman sued to live in the dorms under the Federal Rehabilitation Act. OU wouldn’t let him live in the dorm because he was not on path to earn a degree from the university.

Fialka-Feldman had been taking a bus from his home in Huntington Woods to OU’s campus in Rochester.

HT: The Daily Tribune

[UPDATE: OU’s gonna appeal? OU’s gonna appeal!!!

Court of Appeals upholds closing of Rockford District Court

On Tuesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Kent County’s plan to consolidate the Rockford and Grand Rapids Township District Courts into a new facility in Grand Rapids Township.

The dispute erupted when the City of Rockford and 63rd-1 District Court Judge Steven R. Servaas filed an action for declaratory relief in an attempt to keep the court in Rockford.

The unanimous Court of Appeals decision can be found here.

More on this story next week.

[UPDATE: Rockford plans to appeal, per WOOD-TV.]

Longtime nativity display on Mound Road loses in court

“A federal judge Monday put an end to a Warren family’s 63-year holiday tradition by denying their request to erect an annual nativity scene on Mound Road,” reports The Detroit News.

“In an opinion released Monday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen rejected a request for a temporary order that would have allowed John Satawa to put up the display for 30 days while he continues a federal court battle with the Road Commission of Macomb County.

“Satawa filed a federal lawsuit against the county in October on claims it violated his constitutional rights when it denied a permit for the manger scene. But county officials say the log-cabin-like display placed in the county right-of-way at Mound and Chicago was a public safety hazard.”

Mayor Bing, union headed to court after talks stall

From The Detroit News:

Mayor Dave Bing and the city’s largest union remain deadlocked over contract concessions and the standoff is returning to court.

Last week, officials with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sued the city in Wayne County Circuit Court, claiming Bing’s staffers haven’t supplied much of the information the union requested on the concessions. Among the missing documents are how much Detroit would save from some of Bing’s proposals, such as eliminating daily overtime and reducing paid time off, union officials said.

Bing wants the union to take a 10 percent pay cut through 26 furlough days and accept a host of other changes to offset the city’s estimated $300 million budget deficit. Union officials say they know the city is financially strapped but argue they can’t justify all the concessions without the numbers that back up the savings.

Learning-disabled Oakland student wins fight over dorm room

The Detroit News reports on a disabled student who finally won his fight to live on campus at OU:

Micah Fialka-Feldman, a 25-year-old Huntington Woods student, can move in the Oakland University dorms in January, ending the disabled student’s two-year old battle to live on campus, despite his cognitive impairment.

Under the opinion by U.S. District Court Patrick J. Duggan, the university did violate a federal disability rights law when it denied Fialka-Feldman a dorm room for the January 2008 semester.

Do you think so?

Though most newspapers in the state were reporting on this, we found this version in The Battle Creek Enquirer.

The story is hardly a shocker – some prosecutors think that early release of prison inmates could lead to higher crime rates. The theory that as inmates are released immediately upon serving their minimum sentences crime rates will increase.

That theory is yet unproven, according to the story.