Kwame up the river – again?

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered back to court Friday by Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner to address probation violation for non-payment of restitution.

According to The Detroit Free Press:

Groner also opened the door for prosecutors to address allegations of additional probation violations. Prosecutors have contended that Kilpatrick has repeatedly violated probation by lying about his finances and hidings his assets with his wife, Carlita.

“Your client is to be here Friday at 9 a.m. and at that point there will be a warrant that will be completed,” Groner told Kilpatrick’s lawyers. “We’ll arraign your client on that warrant, and we will proceed to a hearing sometime after that.”

The Michigan Department of Corrections sent a report to Groner on Monday showing that Kilpatrick had not met the judge’s Friday deadline to make a $79,011 payment toward his $1-million restitution. However, the former mayor came up with $14,048 on Friday and $21,125 on Monday.

Seems the 35 grand came from some “warm hearted people” according to Michael Alan Schwartz, one of Kilpatrick’s lawyers, who also noted that the mayor is pretty much destitute and if he doesn’t have the cash, how can he be in violation of the probation terms.

That old saw, however, is growing old with Groner who, just two weeks ago was regaled with tales of extradordinary amounts of money – several hundred thousand – going through the hands of the Kilpatrick  family.

But alas, Kilpatrick argues, that was then and this is now.

Anyone got spare change for a one-way plane ticket to Detroit lockup?

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2010 Law Combine begins today

This week, people fresh out of school are congregating to be poked and prodded for their fitness to compete at the next level.

No, I’m not talking about the NFL Scouting Combine. I’m talking about the bar exam.

That’s right. It’s National Bar Exam Week! All around the country, recent (and some less-recent) law school grads are FREAKING OUT, MAN! (WARNING: Some language in the tweets is NSFW, but the link itself is clean.) because three years of studying, not to mention eight weeks of cramming, has culminated into a final two (or three) day version of the Marine Corps Crucible.

Good luck to all taking it. It’s not that bad. What’s worse is passing it and having to find a job.

[Link: Business Insider.com via Above The Law]

Obituary: Eaton County Judge Michael Skinner

Judge Michael SkinnerEaton County Probate Judge Michael Skinner has died after a 10-year fight with cancer, reports The Lansing State Journal. He was 58.

Skinner was elected to the bench in 2000 and learned he had cancer the same year.

“He had to deal with that every single day he was a judge,” said Tom Eveland, chief judge for the Eaton County circuit and probate courts.

“In spite of that, he took on a lot of work that had not been done by the probate court before,” such as handling most of the county’s juvenile cases.

Skinner sat by assignment in the Eaton Circuit’s family division.

Skinner was a board member of Child & Family Services, Inc. He was an adjunct professor at the Michigan State University Law School.

Skinner was also a former president of the Southwest Michigan Probate Judges Association.

A funeral service will be held Saturday, Feb 27 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lansing. The Tiffany Funeral Home, Lansing, is handing the arrangements.

Take me out to the law game

Cooley Law School StadiumThe Cooley Law School Stadium is the new home-field name for the Lansing Lugnuts, the capital’s Class “A” minor-league baseball affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The ubiquitous law school, the nation’s largest with 3,600 students on four campuses in Michigan, bought the naming rights for the ball park in an 11-year, $1,485,000 sponsorship deal announced yesterday.

Naming rights for the field, formerly known as Oldsmobile Park, went on the market when General Motors gave up its sponsorship during the automaker’s bankruptcy reorganization last year.

The ball club and the city of Lansing will evenly split the revenue from Cooley’s sponsorship.

Schools “capital”-ize on insurance opportunities

Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Olivet College last week announced an alliance aimed at supporting job growth in Michigan’s growing insurance industry.  

Representatives of the schools signed a partnership agreement for coordinated curriculum programs for Cooley’s new Master of Laws in Insurance Law program.

The partnership agreement will join Olivet’s risk management and insurance program with Cooley’s juris doctor and master of law programs, creating only the second such educational program in the nation. 

“Our goal is simple: to make Michigan and Lansing national leaders in the insurance industry,” said Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc.

Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, called the move “a significant step forward in our community-wide efforts to make Lansing the Insurance Capital of Michigan.”

In the Lansing region, insurance companies are responsible for close to 8,000 jobs, and another 1,300 jobs are expected to be in by 2014. 

The schools also may created additional joint bachelor’s/juris doctor programs in the insurance area, and opened the possibility of establishing a paralegal program with an insurance emphasis.

State senator proposes ending no-fault divorce

The Michigan Messenger is reporting this morning that Michigan Sen. Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau) has introduced a bill that would bring back the pre-no-fault divorce to Michigan.

No fault divorce, in the unlikely event that the bill passes, would no longer be an option for couples with children or couples in which one of the spouses doesn’t consent to the divorce.

In their opinions

“Why would a down-on-his-luck working person, who needed a payday advance to pay his bills, whose check to the payday lender subsequently bounced, and who knew that he still owed money to the payday lender, question the legality of a judgment requiring him to pay treble damages and costs to the payday lender?”

– Michigan Court of Appeals Judges Curtis T. Wilder, Peter T. O’Connell and Michael J. Talbot, per curiam, in Michigan Deferred Presentment Services Ass’n v. Ross.

Good question. Before the advent of the Deferred Presentment Service Transactions Act (DPSTA), MCL 487.2121 et seq., payday lenders enthusiastically sought treble damages under MCL 600.2952(4), a provision of the Revised Judicature Act, after their customers repaid the loans with nonsufficient funds (NSF) checks. Often, treble damages were awarded after the hapless borrowers failed to appear in court.

The DPSTA, which provided licensure of payday lenders and subjected them to oversight by the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR), limited the lenders’ remedy to the amount of the check plus $25.

But the treble damage actions apparently continued unabated, prompting OFIR Commissioner Ken Ross to issue an administrative order directing the lenders to follow the DPSTA or risk having their licenses yanked.

How dare he? The Michigan Deferred Presentment Services Ass’n, a trade group that represents payday lenders, sued Ross under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that Ross was denying the lenders their First Amendment day in court.

The COA’s response was a polite version of “utter nonsense.”

Plaintiff cannot claim that a violation of 42 USC 1983 occurred simply because a newly enacted statute precluded recovery of certain damages that plaintiff’s members had become accustomed to receiving in NSF cases.

Further, the administrative order simply informs payday lenders of the authority that, by statute, the Legislature granted to the OFIR to enforce the DPSTA and to respond to violations.

If it so chooses, a licensed payday lender may still file a cause of action with the district court seeking recovery in excess of what the DPSTA statutorily permits. The statute, however, permits the OFIR to revoke licenses and impose civil fines for violations of the DPSTA.

The administrative order notifies payday lenders of the consequences of choosing to violate the DPSTA, all of which are authorized by statute. Defendant does not violate 42 USC 1983 by issuing another administrative order informing payday lenders of the statutorily mandated penalties that they face if they violate the provisions of the DPSTA.

The panel noted that the DPSTA was enacted to “curb abuses” and scolded the payday lender industry.

We find it particularly curious that payday lenders continue to seek damages under the RJA, in contravention of the DPSTA, against individuals who do not have the resources or legal acumen to address the payday lenders’ repeated application of the incorrect statute.

Many customers of payday lenders are individuals who live paycheck to paycheck; the point of the payday lending business is to provide short-term salary advances to individuals who otherwise would not have enough money to make it to their next payday.

Therefore, many of these default judgments would be against individuals who probably cannot afford legal representation and who likely are not even aware that the payday lender sought recovery under the wrong statute. …

Realistically, how would such an individual even know that the DPSTA, not the RJA, governed the amount that a payday lender could recover for his bounced check, and how could that individual, lacking legal training or the funds to hire an attorney, hope to make such a technical legal argument?