In The News

Chris Kessel discusses Ferndale murder and PPO’s.

Tragedy struck Ferndale, Michigan recently where a man allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend and then himself.  The woman, who at the time of the story had not been named, had expressed concern regarding the man’s behavior.  In fact, she had recently filed for a PPO against the suspect.  Channel 7, WXYZ Detroit reached out to Chris Kessel, an expert in the area of PPO law, to discuss the case.

Here is a link to the story. 

Proposed Earned Sick Time Act May Appear on Ballot in November

Raise Michigan, a coalition of civil rights, faith, labor and community groups, works to raise Michigan’s wage, yes, but the organization has recently taken up another endeavor:

To fight for the Earned Sick Time Act in Michigan

Earlier this month, the Board of State Canvassers approved ballot wording submitted by the group, meant for the creation of new legislation, the Earned Sick Time Act, which would grant full- and part-time employees of Michigan businesses one hour of sick time per every 30 hours worked. Employees of larger businesses would have the opportunity to use as many as 72 hours of paid sick time each year, while small business employees could take up to 40 hours.

“More than 1.5 million Michigan workers are not able to take earned sick time when they are ill or when they need to take care of loved ones,” Mothering Justice says on its website. “Even more appalling, many workers are afraid to mention to their employer that they are injured or sick due to fear of being fired — it does not have to be this way.”

The group hopes to collect the more than 250,000 signatures required to send the proposed legislation direct to the state Legislature, but in the event that lawmakers reject the initiative or fail to act, Michiganders will be asked to vote YES / NO in November. (Lawmakers recently passed legislation that prohibits local governments from enacting their own laws to this effect, so paid sick time can only be mandated in Michigan through statewide legislation.)

Not everyone in the state is excited about the possibility of the Earned Sick Time Act, however. When asked, Michigan director of the National Federation of Independent Business Charlie Owens said, “It’s death by 1000 cuts.” Small businesses just don’t have the flexibility to accommodate requirements like these, he claims, and that any such law would benefit large chain stores to the detriment of small business owners.

What do you think about the proposed Earned Sick Time Act?

Chris Kessel on Fox 2 Let It Rip

The case of former City Counsel president, Charles Pugh, has gained national attention in the past weeks and months.  Knowing that, defense attorney Chris Kessel appeared on Fox 2 Detroit’s Sunday morning Let It Rip, in an episode dedicated to the case of Charles Pugh. 

Mr. Kessel was asked to be on the program because of his extensive knowledge and experience defending those charged with criminal sexual conduct, especially those charged in cases involving child complainants.  Chris Kessel was asked about potential defenses, what type of juror would be ideal for a case such as this, and what potential sentence Mr. Pugh may be looking at. 

Here is a link to Chris Kessel’s appearance. 

Fair Michigan to Help LGBT Community

This week, civil rights attorney and activist Dana Nessel and her organization, Fair Michigan, has helped take another step forward in the battle for protection of members of the LGBT community.  In conjunction with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department, a new unit has been created that is specially designed to handle crimes against members of the LGBT community.  The unit will be assigned one special prosecutor and one special investigator, each with special training to handle cases in which members of the LGBT community have been specifically targeted. 

Because of Dana Nessel’s continued work as a defense attorney all across Michigan, she will take no part in any of the investigations or prosecutions handled by the new unit.  However, Ms. Nessel is the President of Fair Michigan, the organization behind the push to create the unit. 

Here is a link to a story by the Detroit News. 

Will They or Won’t They? The Nomination and Appointment of Would-Be Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland

It’s been seven weeks since the news broke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden passing, two weeks since President Obama announced his nomination of would-be replacement Judge Merrick Garland, and the jury is still out on whether or not he’ll nominated — or even considered — by the Senate Judiciary Committee at some point during this election year. It’s a complicated argument, with valid points to be made on all sides of the issue; all that, we’ll leave up to the politicians to sort out.

But as they do, as one Republican senator (Mark Kirk, of Illinois) relented and met with Judge Garland this week, we thought it apt to take the opportunity and share a little about who exactly Merrick Garland is, and how nominations and appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) work.

Who is Judge Merrick Garland?

Considered for a previous Supreme Court vacancy (for the seats that now belong to Justices Kagan and Sotomayor), Merrick B. Garland holds degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. His early professional accomplishments include a position as law clerk to Judge Henry Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, and also a partnership at the law firm Arnold & Porter.

Garland’s vast judicial resume goes on to detail his role as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992; Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General from 1994 to 1997, during which time he supervised the prosecution of Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April 1997, and became chief judge in February 2013.

And how exactly does a Judge become a Supreme Court justice?

First he (or she, as the case may be) must be nominated by the President… And from there ensues a game of political tennis, including committee scrutiny, background checks, testimony, Senate debate, and eventually a vote. The process can happen quickly, or it can happen quite slowly: Justice Harriet Miers, appointed by President George W. Bush, was confirmed in just 21 days, while it took the Senate more than five times that long (114 days, to be exact) to confirm Reagan appointee Robert H. Bork.

It’s been 15 days since Garland’s appointment, and many Senate Republicans are holding fast to their assertions that his nomination, well, won’t even be considered let alone confirmed.

And the truth is, only time will tell.

Dana Nessel continues the fight for equal parenting rights.

A new kind of custody battle.

Battles involving child custody are often hotly contested between the parties.  These can also become very complicated, when the couples used donor genetic material (eggs or sperm) to conceive their child.  Now, thanks to the ruling in Obergefell (the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling), a new wrinkle has been added to these cases. 

A same sex couple in southeast Michigan finds themselves at the center of a new, and potentially ground breaking, area of law.  The parties are a lesbian couple who entered into a domestic partnership in New York and a civil union in Vermont.  They did these things before same-sex marriage became legal.  They then used a donor egg and sperm to have their children.  The parties have been co-parenting the children since birth.  Now the couple is splitting up and the birth mother is trying to deny our client parenting time with the children. 

There are two things particularly interesting about this case.  First, according to the Michigan Custody Act, the birth mother is not technically a parent.  This is so because she is not genetically related to the children, nor is she an adoptive parent.  Second, our client is the legal guardian of the children, meaning she may in fact have more legal rights to the children than the birth mother. 

The central issue is whether or not the court will recognize that because these women did all they could to be a family and co-parent each should be entitled to parenting time as though they had been married. 

Here is a link to a story done by Local 4.


Dana Nessel on Off The Record

On Friday, January 29, 2016, in a new episode of Off The Record, civil rights and criminal defense attorney Dana Nessel discussed the Fair Michigan ballot initiative.  Ms. Nessel, along with other panelists, discuss that while denying the right to same-sex marriage has been deemed unconstitutional, Michigan has a long way to go before reaching equality.

Here is a link to the episode.


Dana Nessel, Newsmaker of the Year!

In what should come as a shock to no one in the State of Michigan, Dana Nessel was named one of 2015’s Newsmakers of the Year, by Gongwer news service.  Dana’s work made worldwide news when the United States Supreme Court voted to recognized the Constitutional right to marry for all same-sex couples. 

Here is a link to the full text of the article.

Don’t be surprised if you see Dana Nessel as one of 2016’s Newsmakers of the Year…work has already begun on passing an anti-discrimination amendment to Michigan’s constitution, which would be the first of its kind in the United States. 

In the News: New MI Law Allows Arenas to Stock Epinephrine


A new Michigan law lets arenas, camps and other venues stock epinephrine injectors to treat allergic reactions.

The measure signed this week by Gov. Rick Snyder permits doctors to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense EpiPens to youth sports leagues, amusement parks, religious institutions and other places. The proposed law also establishes storage and training requirements, and limits liability from lawsuits.

The law follows a 2013 law requiring every public school to have EpiPens.

Snyder says with the new law, parents can be more confident sending their kids to camp or on field trips with constant worry about them having an allergic reaction.

Fair Michigan and the Fight for Equality

Dana Nessel, a household name in the LGBT community, has dedicated herself to fighting against injustice in the courtroom.  Now she has taken the fight out of the courts and is taking it to the ballot box.  Unfortunately, not all in the LGBT community are supporting Dana’s efforts.  Dana and several other dedicated citizens, Democrat and Republican, have begun an initiative to have an equal rights amendment added to the State Constitution  of Michigan.  The amendment would ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.  The organization behind the effort, Fair Michigan, is working to gather enough signatures to have the measure placed on the ballot in time for the 2016 election.   

Here is a link to an excellent story by Jack Lessenberry, who writes about the seemingly curious divisiveness that Dana’s fight has created in the LGBT community.