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Texting to Stop Crime

This blog contains excerpts from Scott Weinberg’s CBS Radio interview with Public Radio co-host Celeste Headlee, on “The Takeaway.”

You can take the girl out of Detroit, but you can’t take Detroit out of the girl. I know you weren’t born here, but you have spent a fair amount of time in Detroit and throughout the Midwest as an NPR correspondent.

Most recently, Celeste came to Detroit for the Sourcing through Texting Summit – trying to use ordinary citizens for local information. How’d that go?

“Better than expected – although we ended up only getting a small number of texts,” Headlee says. “We were going out on the street saying, ‘Hi, I’m a reporter, text me.’ But you know, as a reporter, it’s really difficult to get authentic sources out in the community if they’re not listening to you. I think it has great potential to get people connected to their news organizations.”

In Detroit, we have the text code for crime stoppers – if you see a crime you want to report, you can text-message a code anonymously to bring a police officer to that area.

Headlee: “Detroit is my favorite city in the world, the number 1!”

“It’s really unfortunate that people choose to show only the challenges in the city. I don’t think it helps to show only the bad sides of Detroit – which are there in any urban community! There’s wonderful stuff, too, going on in beautiful areas.”

“When you’re on limited time in a news story, there is only so much you can get in there. You try to do the most just portrait you can in the 4, 5, 6 minutes you have. A hard job but you do the best you can.”

On The Changing Economic Landscape of Detroit:
Will the film industry help the ailing automotive industry?

“It can only be good for the automotive industry if they are not the sole support of this region,” says Headlee. “That puts so much pressure on them and so much of the spotlight on every business decision. And it’s not just the film industry; there’s lots of industries here that are doing quite well – the furniture industry, the incredible restaurant industry. I don’t think Detroiters even appreciate the quality of your own symphony and art museum and the zoo!”

On Racism in Detroit:
“Everything is about race in Detroit and I would have never thought that before coming here but sadly, it is. It’s an odd thing to say, but racism isn’t a racial problem!”

“We’re not understanding one another, and we’re getting very emotional and frustrated but not communicating. And, we’re not giving each other the benefit of the doubt.”

“It’s not just Detroit – it’s suburbs, too. You can tell me that you live in Birmingham and not Detroit but if I’m from LA, you live in Detroit — it’s all Detroit as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Everyone is either going to rise together or fall together and we all need find a way of understanding one another and listen.”

On Public Radio’s “The Takeaway”:
“Our listeners actually become part of the program in a really substantive way. 99% of the comments we get are articulate and well-thought-out and not at all extremist or explosive and that’s amazing.”

In a recent Detroit focus group, one participant called The Takeaway: “Straight up gangsta” because of the live bait-and-chase, pull-out-the-rug format of the show.

On the difference between Unethical and Illegal:
Headlee interviewed Senator Carl Levin about the Goldman Sachs scandal, and the Senator would not admit that there is a difference between an illegal act and an unethical one on Capitol Hill.

“Well, he did finally say, ‘If it’s not illegal, it ought to be.’ Which I found to be very telling because remember this had been going on at the same time that they were debating financial reform and the financial overhaul bill and Carl Levin is clearly going to be a strong voice in that debate.”

— This blog was written by Scott Weinberg

Toking for Our Health

This blog contains excerpts from Scott Weinberg’s CBS Radio interview with ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin.

Medical marijuana – is it a sham? A liability? A reprieve?

Or is this new legal leniency a joke?

As a criminal defense attorney, I’ve represented many people charged with possession of marijuana. Now, they are trying to plead legal under the medical marijuana law.

Some of our clients have applied for a license to use or grow the plant. And even some who’ve received the governmental A-OK continue to be harassed and charged with possession as a criminal offense.

What’s going on, I ask? How can this fly?

According to Dan Korobkin, an ACLU attorney in Michigan, it’s not acceptable under the law – but it happens nonetheless.

“We have had the war on drugs in our country and our state for so long that we have grown accustomed to marijuana being illegal under all circumstances, at all times,” he says. “That’s no longer the case because an overwhelming majority of Michigan voters have approved a medical marijuana law so patients, under advice from their doctor, can use marijuana for medical purposes within the confines of the law.”

Pull out the pot, light up a joint – to treat pain, to assuage symptoms of a serious medical condition – as long as your doctor made the medical recommendation.

The law has changed – and now it’s time to change the way we think about marijuana.

Legal language:
• Anyone who becomes a registered, qualified patient can grow marijuana and possess the plants without fear of arrest or prosecution, or without fear of confiscation.
• They must keep the plants in a closed, locked facility.
• They can’t grow more than 12 plants at a time.

I guess old habits die hard! Attorney Korobkin says law enforcement officials are just going about business as usual, without regard for the new law.

“We are seeing a lot of situations where legitimate and legal patients – many suffering from serious and painful diseases – experience raids, police coming into their homes at night.”

You can be a patient, or you can be a caregiver. The caregivers’ law applies to spouses, best friends, neighbors or other close individuals who are helping out a patient in need.

Of course, you can’t grow until you get your license from the state. So if you’re raided while you’re awaiting approval, tough cookies.

And here’s a little glitch: it’s technically still illegal under federal law to possess any amount of marijuana!

The Obama Administration and the Justice Department recently announced that official U.S. policy now says NOT to prosecute individuals using marijuana for medical purposes – if their state laws allow it.

“We are so ingrained in our heads that marijuana is a drug, and one that can be abused, and it’s illegal, that it’s very hard to make adjustments now that the law finally recognizes marijuana as a palliative treatment for diseases,” says Korobkin.

“It’s hard to change your frame of mind – but it’s time! It’s the will of the people. It shouldn’t be a point of confusion or concern any longer. We should all recognize this and be willing to move forward.”

– written by Scott Weinberg & Lynne Meredith Schreiber

Under 15 Will Get You 16

Mom and Dad have gone to sleep and 17-year-old Bobby is making out on the couch with his 15-year-old girlfriend, Susie. First base leads to second and then, around the corner, it’s a home run.

Let’s say Dad can’t sleep so he stumbles downstairs to read the newspaper and finds his little girl naked on the couch. He’s furious. He’s protective. He’s worse than a bear protecting its cubs. He calls the cops. He calls a lawyer. And suddenly, Bobby’s parents are fielding a statutory rape charge that could land an innocent, albeit horny, teenager in jail for 15 years and with a permanent label of sex offender?

I’m not joking.

While we all have opinions about whether kids should be sexually active, here’s the stunning truth: in the state of Michigan, NO ONE under the age of 16 can have sexual contact with anyone, even a boyfriend or girlfriend a grade or two older! It is ILLEGAL.

Classified as Criminal Sexual Conduct, it’s a whopping 15-year felony with a forceable sex-offender registry for up to 25 years if the judge is feeling frisky.

And yes, that’s even in the very real and very common situation that both kids agreed to have sex. No drugs or alcohol involved. No coercion.

Yes I know you might think it’s CRAZY. Remember, every prosecuting attorney’s office has a different policy for prosecuting these types of cases. Some prosecute only when there is a 3-year or greater age difference between the kids (a good reason to bar your 18-year-old from hitting on a comely freshman!).

Some prosecutors are more stringent and prosecute at their whim. Many times it depends on how much the parents push. (Like they didn’t know it was going on anyway!)

The best we can do is educate our kids, and other parents, on the law. You make the laws in your own house regarding underage sex – enforce them.

The purpose of the legal system in a state is to govern its citizens and set standards for behavior. We should all be doing this on a smaller scale in our own families and homes. No second chances, no exceptions.

Talk with your kids and let them know that underage sex, even touching, can have a stiff penalty. And not just being grounded or losing a cell phone for a few weeks. It could mean their life.

Listen to Scott Weinberg’s interview with Judge Lora Weingarden!

— written by Scott Weinberg and Lynne Schreiber

Kwame, inmate #702408 Strikes Out !!

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick steps up to the plate…Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy eyes the batter at the defense table, it’s a fast ball, STRIKE ONE…

Kwame lies under oath and flaunts a judge’s authority, ignoring his obligation to the court and the City of Detroit with a lack of humility and arrogance.

The wind-up again, this time a change-up…Kwame signs an affidavit, swings and a miss, STRIKE TWO…

Kwame decides to live a lavish lifestyle in Texas, accepting gifts of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes, only to be squandered on a Hollywood mansion and plastic surgery for his scorned wife. But redemption is never found under a veil of deceit and perjury.

One more chance for a home run, a chance for deliverance and forgiveness…

The prosecutor winks at the umpire, winds up…it’s a knuckle ball! Kwame tries to step into the ball only to get hit by the pitch, falls on his own bat and lands on his ass. STRIKE THREE.

Kwame blames his entire fall from grace on his extramarital affair and how the press and life have treated him. Nothing is his fault – everyone else is to blame for his downfall. He gets 18 months in PRISON and emancipation from his own cloudy truth.


Detroit 1  Kwame 0

The Police Protect Themselves

We don’t expect police officers to kill children. 

And they shouldn’t. 

Which is why the story of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones, shot while sleeping on her couch by a blind bullet from a Detroit police officer irresponsibly shooting through the door, is horrifying, unacceptable and just another example of why it is so important to fight for the rights of everyday folks. 

Although the motto of most police departments is “PROTECT AND SERVE,” why is it that when someone is killed at the hands of the police, they always seem to protect themselves.  Well, they protect us many times, but in this case, they were protecting themselves. 

I think being a cop is one of the hardest jobs in the world.  But, when the police have an arrest warrant in hand…LOOK OUT!  Because there go your rights flying out the window with the bath water. 

An arrest warrant does not give an officer of the law the right to extend his power in a sweep of danger across the civilian landscape. It does not justify shooting in any direction just in case the pursued person might be lurking nearby. 

Poor little Aiyana, serene in peaceful slumber, until the room filled with smoke and the life was taken from her faster than the blink of an eye. It happened that fast. 

And the only reason it happened at all was that Detroit police officers were more concerned with creating a good show (did you know an A&E television crew was following them on this pursuit?). No concern for protecting the constitutional rights of those who cannot protect themselves – a child, asleep in her home, beside her grandmother. Trusting repose. Home sweet home. 

Those protections we hold so dear disappear when a police officer holds a warrant in his hand. Wrapped in a blanket of freedoms, woven with the fabric of 230 years of Constitutional protections, we are still no match for a quick cop flash grenade and errant gun shot. 

Remember this…if a police officer has an arrest warrant for you, you do not have to give up your life. You don’t have to lose a loved one because they’re on a power trip. 

Go peacefully. Then stand as Captain America and throw your mighty Constitutional shield!

You Have the Right To Remain Quiet

Of course no one should drink enough to be over the legal limit and drive a vehicle.  It goes without saying.

But it happens – and if you are charged with Operating While Intoxicated, or OWI, commonly misunderstood as Drunk Driving, then you must know your rights. 

Just because you made one mistake, and got behind the wheel after the office party, don’t make a second and give up your constitutional and statutory rights to defend yourself.

If you’re stopped by a Michigan police officer and asked to make statements – “Were you drinking? How much did you have to drink?” – you have the right to be quiet and shut up! 

No officer will tell you that, of course, but sometimes the best thing to do is not say anything other than, “I want to speak with my attorney before saying another word.”

The police will try to give you Field Sobriety Tests to gather more evidence against you for their OWI case. You have NO obligation to submit to Field Sobriety tests – you don’t have to walk a straight line or put your finger to your nose! 

People rarely pass these tests to the officer’s satisfaction and there is no penalty or sanction for refusing them and asking for a lawyer.

The next step is the Officer will ask you to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) to see if he can arrest you on OWI charges. 


The only penalty for refusing a PBT is a civil ticket, which is not even a misdemeanor.  A positive PBT result will give the officer probable cause to arrest you for OWI and take you to the station. 

The only time there is a serious sanction for refusing to give evidence against yourself is when the officer asks you to take a Chemical Test – breath, urine or blood. 

Normally on a first OWI charge, they will ask for a breath test at the police station. 


However, you may face a penalty of losing your license for 1 year and receiving 6 points on your driver’s record. 

The good news is you can appeal this “Implied Consent Suspension” to a division of the Secretary of State in order to keep your license. If you win that hearing, you not only protected your ability to drive, you protected your rights by not giving evidence against yourself.

So, if you want to have the best chance to challenge an OWI charge, then be smart and protect your rights at the scene – not just in court.

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