Legal Blog

Colorado Legalizes the First Gay Divorce

The recent Supreme Court decision that ruled DOMA unconstitutional is paving the way for same sex couples across the country to be able to legally marry and adopt children. Along with it however, is a brand new laundry list of legal questions–namely, how do gay couples who were married in states that allow same sex marriages get divorced without life-changing consequences?

Those who support gay marriage in say that Colorado’s first statewide ruling permitting finalized same sex divorces creates a new precedent for those looking to terminate their relationships as seamlessly as possible.

Legally wed in Massachusetts in 2009, Juli Yim and Lorelei Jones relationship eventually went started to break apart and Yim found a new partner in Colorado. Despite being one of the several states that treat straight and gay couples the same in most respects through domestic partnerships and civil unions, same sex marriages are currently prohibited in Colorado. Yet, gay couples can still be divorced according to the state statute.

While several states’ gay marriage laws force the couple to have in-state residency in order to legally terminate a relationship, many advocates say that the rule is incredibly inconvenient as it ultimately puts life on hold for those who’ve moved to other states. This has caused nationwide confusion on how same sex couples can get a divorce, and each issue varies by state. “A lot of people kind of think if they went on vacation to Iowa or Massachusetts or New York and got married and came back to their state, that when they break up they can just go their separate ways,” gay divorce attorney Kyle Martelon explained. “It’s not like that.”

Having taken effect on May 1st, the civil union law in Colorado offers legal protections for same sex couples getting divorced including: division of property, financial responsibility between former spouses, parental supervision, and child support to the dissipating parties… given that at least one of the people involved has been a Colorado resident for 90 days or more. The new legislation also prevents anyone who entered a marriage or a civil union in another state from doing so in Colorado with anyone aside from their spouse as recognized by the law.

As Yim’s divorce became final on July 29th, she and current partner Suzie Calvin plan to marry on May 1st of next year. Unfortunately, unless Colorado’s constitutional ban on same sex marriages is overturned, the couple will have to wed in a different state–a legal change that is not expected to come any time soon. During the first two months that the law took effect, a total of seven marriage dissolution cases were filed in Colorado. Yim’s was the first, while the other six are currently pending.

The same sex divorce lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law offer services to draft separation agreements for gay and lesbian couples residing in Michigan who are legally married and looking to get a lawful divorce. Until marriage between same sex couples is legalized in the state of Michigan, allow the gay divorce attorneys at Nessel and Kessel assist you in helping to dissolve your out-of-state marriage.


[This photo, taken May 17th, 2005, is of Julie (front left) and Hillary Goodridge as they pose with other same sex couples and advocates in celebration of their first wedding anniversary in Boston. The duo that led the legal crusade for Massachusetts to become the first state in America to recognize gay marriages is now the trendsetters for another type of same sex law: divorce. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. / Elise Amendola AP]

Anti-Meth Law Hopes to Curb Criminal Activity in Southwest Michigan

t106228cIn this tight economy, making $50 from just buying a box of Sudafed can be an extremely attractive offer.  That is what a growing number of people in the State of Michigan are realizing, according to law enforcement officials.   These types of “quick bucks” are directly fueling an overwhelming drug epidemic in Southwest Michigan, causing families to fall apart, property values to fall, and prison cells to overflow.

Even though a state law passed in 2012 limits the amount of cold medicine products containing pseudoephedrine one can buy at a time, methamphetamine production in the Mitten state has shown little signs of stopping and has created a new type of criminal in Michigan.

State law requires those who buy cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine to show identification and have their names inserted into NPLEx, a police database, to monitor how much is being purchased at one time. Michigan limits a person to 3.6 grams per day and nine each month.

As one of the key components in manufacturing methamphetamine is found in cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, addicts pay others large sums of money to purchase these meds for them. Referred to as “smurfing,” this new type of drug deal is particularly profitable for the purchaser—a box of Sudafed has a street value of nearly $50, meaning significant gains for the buyer.

Despite the tougher monitoring laws, the creation of the “smurf” dealer is just one example of how law enforcement officials in Michigan have seriously struggled to damper meth production and use in the state.  In fact, many argue that the result of the new law has been the creation of a black market for pseudoephedrine products, ultimately creating an entirely new type criminal. Many argue that in that sense, the law has made the increasingly desperate situation much worse.

Although there is no specific law in Michigan that makes smurfing illegal, if the purchaser knows that the product they’re buying is going to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, they can still be charged with aiding and abetting. Because of this, accusations of “smurfing” are incredibly serious, and could have potentially life-changing consequences. If you or someone you know has been accused of “smurfing” to manufacture meth, contacting an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney should be the very first step. Only with a skilled legal defense team can one overcome these very harsh charges, which could result in enormous fines and/or incarceration. The knowledgeable Detroit criminal defense lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law can provide the legal advice and legal representation needed to prevent smurfing accusations from becoming permanent blemishes on one’s record.


Michigan Prison Sentencing Reforms Being Considered

rosannabehindbarsmarch2013One doesn’t need to be an experienced Detroit criminal attorney to know that the state’s Department of Corrections needs some correcting of its own. Mandatory sentences statewide are notoriously tough, placing Michigan as the state with the largest average time served for all crimes in 2009 alone.

These shocking statistics have prompted leading Michigan legislators and Governor Rick Snyder to consider the first set of prison sentencing reforms since the laws became noticeably stricter almost 15 years ago.

Of course, the state’s place at the top of the national time served list isn’t lawmakers only reason for discussing change—there is also a strong desire to reduce the Corrections Department’s budget, which currently surpasses $2 billion. The tougher stance on prison sentencing taken by Michigan legislators in 1998 caused a significant increase in cost as well. According to a study performed by the Pew Center on the States, the increased prison time added $472 million to the state’s yearly bill.

There is also evidence that public attitudes towards crime and punishment may be changing as well. Republican Resentative Joe Haverman explained, “Society has changed its views on a number of criminal justice issues. Being ‘tough on crime’ above all other concerns simply haven’t created a safer society.” Despite being a typically conservative legislator, Haverman’s commentary signals that the state’s government may be ready to reform some of Michigan’s toughest incarceration policies—especially as the state Legislature is Republican controlled and tends to govern conservatively as well.

Still, Michigan is in better control of prison costs than in previous years. The total number of offenders coming to prison has decreased, as well as the recidivism rate. This is largely because Michigan has consequently increased the use of probation, paroles, and electronic tethers to keep an eye on lower-level offenders without putting them in prison. Legislators have also cut costs by contracting privately for incarceration services, like food preparation. But as Michigan prison costs continue to exceed $2 billion, state lawmakers have made it clear that it isn’t enough.

As skilled and compassionate Detroit criminal defense attorneys, the legal team at Nessel and Kessel Law applauds the consideration of prison reformation. All too often, the punishments don’t fit the crime. Our knowledgeable criminal defense law firm in Detroit is dedicated to providing the best legal advice and legal representation to all those accused of crimes in Michigan. Regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor offense or felonious crime, do not hesitate to retain legal assistance immediately. Contact the legal team at Nessel and Kessel Law today.


DOMA Ruling and What it Means for Same Sex Couples in Michigan

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling hit the news waves like a tsunami–many were talking about the unconstitutionality of DOMA, despite rarely knowing what the decision actually means for same-sex couples in the United States. Ultimately, the high court determined that DOMA violated the 5th Amendment rights of married gay couples by denying them equal protection under the law. The majority wrote that although some states recognize a gay marriage, because the federal government does not, same-sex couples would be denied a myriad of federal Deboer Rowse Fundbenefits (such as the tax benefits in the actual case heard in front of the Supreme Court) that heterosexual couples had access to. Therefore, in the eyes of the court, gay couples were treated differently.


While there are technically some instances in which government can discriminate against certain groups of people, to do so legally it must past a test. The Supreme Court said that discriminating against same-sex couples needed to pass the rational basis test to be lawful–meaning, there must be a “legitimate government interest” that would justify the need to discriminate. In the case most recently heard by the Supreme Court, no such legitimate interest could be found.


Even though Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and adoption is still written in the state constitution, the DOMA ruling does make the light at the end of the tunnel shine that much brighter in the Mitten State. Because the constitutional ban in Michigan clearly discriminates against same-sex marriage exactly like DOMA, attorneys for gay couples are now able to argue that prohibiting their marriage or adoption serves no legitimate government interest and therefore should be recognized as a denial of their 5th Amendment rights. While the majority wrote that it is the state’s job to define things like marriage, it is required to do so within the rubric of constitutional protections.Deboer Rowse Case


The dedicated and experienced Detroit lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law couldn’t be more pleased about the Supreme Court ruling, as it not only proclaims this legal injustice as unconstitutional but also paves the way for many other same-sex couples (in Michigan and around the country) to enjoy the same benefits that heterosexual couples do. We are hopeful that as the waves of change continue to catch on, gay couples (like our clients April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse), will have the opportunity to marry and adopt lawfully and without prejudice.


Should you have any questions on same-sex marriage or adoption in Michigan or any other state, please don’t hesitate to contact the skilled legal team at Nessel and Kessel Law. Nationally recognized for their devotion to the crusade for marriage equality, Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel are ready to fight for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to Nessel and Kessel Law at any time!


April and Jayne need your help! To contribute to their ongoing legal battle for adoption rights, please click here.

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.

Assault by Strangulation Charge Dismissed

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Gets Case Dismissed

Michigan criminal defense attorney, Chris Kessel, of Nessel and Kessel Law, struck another blow for justice today in Wayne County Circuit Court by convincing the court to dismiss the charge of Assault by Strangulation/Suffocation.  The offense itself is a newly defined crime in the State of Michigan.  The law actually went into effect April 1, 2013.  It was alleged that the client put his hands around the neck of the complainant and applied pressure so as to impede her breathing of blood circulation.  This particular allegation is what lead the prosecutor to bring the strangulation charge.

Continue reading “Assault by Strangulation Charge Dismissed” »

Robbery vs. Larceny Defense Attorney

Nessel and Kessel Law recently retained a client who was charged with unarmed robbery.  After speaking with the client it became clear that he did not understand why he was being charged with robbery as opposed to simple larceny.  Even the most experienced criminal defense attorneys in Michigan find the law in this area is equal parts simple and frustrating. 

Let’s start with the definition of “larceny” first.  A larceny is the taking of something with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.  Simply put, larceny is theft.  Larceny from a person is when you take something from someone, with the intent to permanently deprive that person of whatever has been taken.  The difference between robbery and larceny is the extra element of force.

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How Does Self Defense Work?

What is “self defense”?

Many times when we meet a client who is charged with an assaultive crime, they try to explain why they believe they should be acquitted because they were acting in self defense.  While that may be true in “the real world”, it is generally not true under the legal definition of self defense.  The legal meaning of self defense is very precise and often the tiniest deviation from the technical legal meaning can make the defense invalid.  Depending on the type of crime you have been charged with, your ability to argue self defense can change, so make sure you consult with one a top criminal defense attorney in Michigan before deciding on a defense.

Continue reading “How Does Self Defense Work?” »

Talking to the Police

Perhaps the surest way to be convicted of a crime is to give the police a statement once you’ve been arrested.

So many clients think that by talking to the police that they can get out of whatever trouble they may be in, or that if they just explain to the officer what really happened they won’t even need to talk to a criminal defense attorney later.  Unfortunately, the exact opposite is almost always true and the client ends up making things worse for themselves.  I’ve seen simple retail fraud turned into armed robbery based, assault and battery turned into assault with intent to murder, and drug possession turned into possession with intent to deliver, all based on the results of a police interrogation. Continue reading “Talking to the Police” »

Gay Rights Attorney at Ferndale Pride

Gay Rights Attorney

Downtown Ferndale will host the third annual Ferndale Pride on June 1, 2013 and Nessel and Kessel Law will be speaking at this year’s festivities.   Dana Nessel, a nationally recognized Michigan gay rights attorney, will speaking with those interested in the Deboer et al. v Snyder case, which is the challenge against Michigan’s ban on same sex marriage and same sex-second parent adoption.  Dana will be speaking not only about our case, but about the Prop 8 and DOMA cases that were heard earlier this year before the United States Supreme Court.  Ms. Nessel will also be speaking but also about how LBGT rights will be affected by the possible rulings.

If you are interested in second parent adoption, same sex marriage, or any other aspect of your rights as a member of the LBGT community, feel free to come by and speak with an attorney who is fighting for your rights, not just talking about them.   Contact Nessel and Kessel Law today. 

For more information on our challenge to Michigan’s ban  on gay marriage and second parent adoption, click here.