In The News

Proposed Discriminatory Same Sex Adoption Bill

Recently the Michigan Legislature has attempted to put forward another bill that would allow for state funded adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex individuals and couples, who are otherwise “qualified”, from adopting children into their homes. 

Friend of the cause, Amy Lange, did an amazing piece on yesterday’s news.

Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel Featured in ‘Spotlight on the News’ for WXYZ Detroit

Earlier this week, Nessel and Kessel Law’s very own Dana Nessel was featured on a 30-minute segment for WXYZ Detroit where she discussed the recent landmark Supreme Court decision which deemed DOMA unconstitutional. A nationally recognized attorney and legal expert, Nessel is highly sought after for her insight on the ever-changing political and social landscape surrounding gay marriage and adoption.

Since opening its doors in 2010, Nessel and Kessel Law has been dedicated to fighting for the rights of all people, regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation. Currently, the legal team has a case in the Federal Court that challenges Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and second parent adoption. (Click here to get more information on the DeBoer Rowse case). Both Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel are particularly pleased with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling as it will assist in furthering the fight for gay marriage and second parent adoption in Michigan.

Detroit Attorney Attends Local Michigan Prides Parades to Support Marriage Equality

The month of June has certainly been an exciting one for the ongoing crusade towards marriage equality, both in Michigan and around the country. Even before last week’s Supreme Court decision was handed down, the LGBTQ community of Detroit was alive and vibrant, immersing themselves in the community to raise awareness for equal marriage rights in the Mitten State.

Being staunch advocates of gay marriage and second parent adoption issues, the Michigan attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law are also at the forefront of this historic battle of civil and social rights. In addition to leading the way towards same-sex marriage rights with the DeBoer Rowse case and the Michigan Marriage Challenge, this legal team took to the streets to spread their message at local pride parades held throughout the Detroit area in June. At both the Ferndale Pride Parade and Motor City Pride Parade, lawyer Dana Nessel was a featured speaker where she discussed her case and challenging the state ban on same-sex marriage, through the example of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. (More information on the DeBoer Rowse case can be found here.)

With the winds of change blowing through the Supreme Court however, it is only a matter of time before the efforts of Nessel, and others in support of marriage equality, see their dream become a reality in every state. Should you or a loved one have an interest in exploring second parent adoption, same-sex marriage, or any other part of your rights as a member of the LGBTQ community, do no hesitate to reach out to a legal team that is fighting for your rights–not just talking about them. Contact the experienced attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law today!


Gay Marriage and Second Parent Adoption Interview

Dana Nessel sits down with to discuss gay marriage and second parent adoption.

While the country waits for the United States Supreme Court to address the cases before it that deal with gay marriage, Dana Nessel spoke with Jonathan Oosting of for an interview on the state of the law in Michigan and around the county.

The interview can be found here.

Nessel and Kessel Law is dedicated for fighting for the rights of all people, no matter their race, religion, or sexual preference.  At this moment we have a case in Federal Court challenging Michigan’s ban on same sex marriage and second parent adoption.  More information can be found on the case hereWe are particularly looking forward to the Supreme Court’s decision and the ways in which it will further our fight for gay marriage and second parent adoption in Michigan.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime or been discriminated against, contact the Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel of Nessel and Kessel Law.

Judge to hear arguments on legality of Michigan’s ban on gay marriage

Fox 2 News Headlines

A federal judge is expected to make a decision this week that could eventually overturn on Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Judge Bernard Friedman of the U.S. District Court is expected to hear arguments on the legality of the ban during a hearing Thursday morning at Wayne St. University.

A lesbian couple from Ferndale, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, originally filed suit last year in their fight to jointly adopt their three special needs children. “There’s no way for them to both adopt the children together as a couple which leads to endless complications,” said the couple’s attorney Dana Nessel.

Friedman encouraged the couple to instead challenge the state’s definition of marriage. He said that’s really the underlying issue in their quest for joint adoption.

DeBoer and Rowse were certified by the state as a couple to foster the children, but the state only allowed them to adopt them as individuals. They want their children to have two legal parents.

“For the parent who cannot adopt the other child, they essentially nothing but a legal stranger to that child just like any other person on the street as opposed to someone who’s raised this child since the day he or she was born,” said Nessel.

The Michigan Marriage Amendment to the state Constitution, approved by voters in 2004.

Let It Rip: Should Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban be overturned?

Fox 2 News Headlines

A lesbian couple is fighting to overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages. Voters approved the ban in 2004.

April Deboer and Jayne Rowse’s lawsuit was sparked by their desire to adopt children together. Soon a federal judge will hear arguments in the case.

Joining Huel Perkins and Charlie Langton on our panel to discuss are:

Dana Nessel, the attorney for Deboer and Rowse, who says the issue is a matter of equal rights.

And Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

Plus, Charlie Langton took “Let It Rip” on the road and asked people whether gay couples should be allowed to marry in Michigan.

Click on the videos about to watch “Let It Rip”. Plus, tell us your thoughts by posting in the “Comments” section below.

Mich. couple’s fight against same-sex marriage ban earns small victory

Fox 2 News Headlines

A lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple fighting to overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage has earned a small victory.

In a motion filed Tuesday, newly elected Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown said the county no longer wants to challenge the suit filed last year in federal court against Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and former Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard.

“She’s essentially conceding that these very discriminatory laws are unconstitutional, ” said Dana Nessel, the couple’s attorney.

April DeBoer and her partner, Jayne Rowse, originally filed suit last year in their fight to jointly adopt their three special needs children. But a federal judge encouraged the couple to instead challenge the state’s definition of marriage.

Judge Bernard Friedman said that’s really the underlying issue in their quest for joint adoption.

DeBoer and Rowse were certified by the state as a couple to foster the children, but the state only allowed them to adopt them as individuals. They want their children to have two legal parents.

Snyder and Schuette filed motions last year asking that the suit be dropped.

A hearing is scheduled for early March.

Is Michigan Ready for Gay Marriage?

Charlie Langton interviews attorney Dana Nessel. She is suing to make gay marriage a possiblity in the Great Lake State. A new MSU poll says that a majority of Michiganders would support same-sex unions.

SADO Interview

Please tell us about your background and how long you have been a criminal defense lawyer.

I graduated from law school in 1994, and immediately began working as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.  In 2005, I left the prosecutor’s office to enter the world of private practice, and have been practicing criminal defense law since that time.

Please tell us where you practice, and tell us about your practice.

I am currently the managing partner at Nessel & Kessel Law.  Our offices are located in the Penobscot Building in Detroit.  While our firm handles a variety of specialties, our concentration remains in the area of criminal defense.  My partner, Chris Kessel, is a former public defender, and being a former prosecutor, criminal law is obviously the area in which we maintain the greatest interest.  However, I have found that criminal defense law naturally lends itself into other areas, such as family law, 1983 civil rights actions [42 U.S.C. §1983], forfeiture matters, and many other types of cases, so my practice has greatly expanded over the years.

Please tell about one of your interesting or unusual cases.

My biggest and most interesting cases are not actually criminal in nature, but began as a result of the archaic structure of the child custody laws and adoption code in Michigan, which resulted in people being turned into convicted felons for the crime of loving their children.  Unlike practically every other state in the union, Michigan has no mechanism for gays and lesbians to form legal, two-parent households.  I would see cases where a same-sex couple who had children together would have their relationship dissolve.  The legal parent would sometimes then prohibit the non-legal parent from any contact with the children, which would lead to Personal Protection Orders and ultimately aggravated stalking cases.  Seeing a perfectly law-abiding parent charged with a felony for nothing more than desperately wanting to see the child they had raised since birth, but who they could have no legal rights to, was more than I could bear.  Those types of cases ultimately lead me to file cases in both state and federal court challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Michigan Adoption Code and the Michigan Child Custody Act.

What trends and significant issues have you seen in Michigan jurisprudence in recent years?

Sadly, I think those of us who practice criminal defense law cannot help noticing the significant diminishing of personal liberties by the appellate courts in Michigan, which seem to grow more and more conservative each year.   In some communities, it seems as though the Bill of Rights is more of an abstract idea learned in grade school than a reality propelled by the force of law.  As a young prosecutor, I never really appreciated the effect the violation of civil rights can have on an entire community of people.  I am hopeful this trend will reverse itself in future years, but for now, many courts seem convinced that convictions at any cost trumps the rights of individuals to be safe and secure from police interference in their daily lives.

Do you have advice for other defense attorneys?

Always keep an open mind, and never presume to know anything until you have inspected the case from every angle.  Also, I believe it’s critical to maintain a respectful relationship with everyone in the system: the judges, court clerks, deputies, prosecutors, and anyone else you may come into contact with during the course of your job.  I believe firmly in the old adage “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”  Being a tenacious advocate for your client does not necessarily entail having to be combative and difficult to deal with.  Being personable and amicable while maintaining your professionalism is beneficial to both your client and to your career in the long run.

by Neil Leithauser

Are Detroit police intentionally putting the brakes on traffic tickets?

Writing traffic tickets is an important role of law enforcement and often critical for public safety, but now there are allegations Detroit police officers are intentionally putting the brakes on the process.

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh says he is concerned the cash-strapped city is losing tens of thousands of dollars a week in fines because a growing number of tickets are being dismissed, often because police officers are failing to show up in court.

Attorney Chris Kessel says it’s been an ongoing issue since the 12-hour shifts for officers started in mid September. Fox 2 has learned there are multiple issues impacting revenue including fewer officers being assigned to traffic enforcement, fewer tickets being written and fewer officers showing up to court when tickets are challenged, so they’re dismissed.

Officers tell us the 12-hour shifts have left them exhausted and the overtime incentive to come to court just isn’t what it once was and that’s on top of their ten percent pay cuts.

Just how much this is costing the city is not clear, but the Detroit Police Officer Association says it might be time to rethink those 12 hour shifts. Scott Pellerito of the DPOA Grievance Committee says, “it’s probably due to fatigue of working the twelve hours.”

It’s a real concern, not just for traffic ticket revenue, but for the safety of officers and citizens and certainly a quality of life issue for the men and women in blue.

Pugh is calling for an investigation and the Detroit City Council is expected to take up the issue on Monday.