Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jim Thomas graduated from school of hard knocks

Top criminal defense attorney Jim Thomas attributes some of his success to growing up in a tough east-side Detroit neighborhood and facing forceful men of God in high school in the 1960s.
Thomas said he had to fight to keep his lunch money from being stolen while walking to and from school growing up on Kensington Street between Mack and Warren avenues.
And then in high school, at the all-boys Austin Catholic Prep in Detroit, he withstood strict, physical discipline from Augustinian priests who served as teachers and administrators. He described the effect of beatings at a speech last week in Macomb Township.
“As many of you know, they (priests) weren’t afraid to lay hands on you. It was a great learning experience for me. It taught me discipline.
“The fact that a priest could beat you is now frowned upon, but it seems to me that there’s no judge in a black robe who could do to me what the priests did. It steeled me for the criticism and fights I’ve had in court.”
Thomas, who represented former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at his recent federal trial, is on the other side of the world these days. He moved 11 years ago to a tranquil, lakefront neighborhood in Harrison Township.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Settlement announced in e-book price-fixing case settlement

Attorney General's press release:

Schuette Announces Michigan Consumers to Receive Compensation from Settlement in E-Books Price-Fixing Lawsuit
Major U.S. Publisher Agrees to Settle Price-Fixing Allegations, Michigan Consumers Will Receive $4.3 Million Through 5 Publisher Settlements

LANSING Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced Michigan consumers will receive compensation from a settlement in an antitrust case against a major U.S. book publisher for price-fixing and collusion in the electronic book (e-book) market. Michigan has reached an agreement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc. to settle allegations that Penguin illegally conspired with other major publishers and Apple Inc. to increase the retail price of e-books. Including the Penguin settlement, $164 million in consumer restitution has been recovered for consumers nationwide harmed by price-fixing in the e-book market. Michigan consumers will receive approximately $4.3 million from the five publisher settlements.
                “Any company engaging in price-fixing not only throws a wrench in the free market at the expense of consumers, it also violates the good faith of citizens across our state,” said Schuette. “Through this settlement, Michigan consumers who were harmed by the conspiracy are eligible to receive compensation.”
The agreement with Penguin must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When finalized, the agreement will grant e-book outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles. Consumers nationwide – including those represented by the attorneys general of the 33 states and territories and those represented by private counsel in a related class action – will receive $75 million in compensation.
Michigan has previously settled with four other publishers: Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan for illegally conspiring to increase the retail price of e-books. The alleged collusion caused prices for e-book editions of New York Times Best Sellers to increase from $9.99 to $12.99 and $14.99.  Consumers nationwide will receive $164 million in compensation as a result of the settlements with the five publishers. The settlement agreement also precludes the publishers from further conspiring or sharing competitively sensitive information with their competitors or entering into any kind of contract that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement agreement.
This settlement does not affect the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Schuette and 30 other state attorneys general and the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico alleging Apple Inc. conspired with the publishers to artificially raise e-book prices.  That lawsuit remains ongoing with trial scheduled in June 2013.
If you purchased an e-book with an artificially inflated price from the five publishers, you should have already received a notice from your retailer.
The Michigan Antitrust Reform Act (MARA) prohibits price-fixing agreements because such agreements undermine competitive market forces, causing artificially higher prices for consumers.  If a consumer has evidence of an actual agreement to fix prices in any market, they are encouraged to contact Attorney General Bill Schuette's Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-765-8388 or file a complaint online at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Talbot named special administrator at 36th District Court

Another press release from Michigan Supreme Court. This one "hot off the press" released today.

Talbot has some pretty impressive credentials.

Court of Appeals Judge Michael J. Talbot appointed to serve as special
administrator of Detroit’s 36th District Court; aims to address court’s
financial crisis

LANSING, MI, May 28, 2013
Judge Michael J. Talbot, a judge of the Michigan Court of  Appeals and a former judge of the Wayne Circuit, Detroit Recorder’s and Detroit Common Pleas courts, has been appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to serve as special judicial administrator of Detroit’s 36th District Court.
The Court’s unanimous order appointing Talbot comes in the wake of a recent
assessment of the 36th District Court by the National Center for State Courts. The NCSC
concluded that the district court is embroiled in an economic crisis that calls for both immediate  and long-term action if the court is to continue functioning.
The NCSC assessment noted that the 36 th District Court has serious financial issues,
including a budget overrun of $4.5 million this year. The NCSC was critical
of the court for  operating as if it had its requested budget of $36 million, instead of the $31 million authorized in  the city of Detroit budget.
State Court Administrator Chad C. Schmucker called the 36th District’s situation “dire,”
saying that extraord inary measures are required “to keep the doors open at this court and make sure that the public is getting the service it deserves.”
Schmucker noted that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr recently released a report
detailing the city of Detroit’s fiscal issues.
“Given the dire financial situation of the district  court’s funding unit, the city of Detroit, we anticipate that the court’s budget crisis will substantially worsen in the coming months,” Schmucker said. “Just as Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is calling for fundamental change in the way the city of Detroit operates, so too the 36th District Court has to make serious changes to ensure that the court continues to serve the citizens.”
Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., said that the district court’s “extraordinary
challenges” require “a strong change agent, not a traditional manager, to ensure that the 36th District Court can better serve the people who rely on this court. The situation calls for someone who can bring experience, vision, and a fresh perspective to the courts’ problems. That is why Judge Talbot was the Court’s unanimous choice for this challenging assignment. He has expertise in judicial administration; he also has many years of experience in Detroit’s trial courts and knows them well.”
There is precedent for the Supreme Court’s appointment, Schmucker noted. In 1977, the Supreme Court appointed former Court of Appeals Chief Judge T. John Lesinski to temporarily serve as special judicial administrator of Detroit Recorder’s Court, when th
at court was having difficulty managing its caseload.
Talbot said he is looking forward to his assignment.
“As one who spent many years on
the trial court bench, I understand trial court challenges, including economic issues,” Talbot said.
“I am looking forward to working with the judges and staff of the 36th District Court. I am
confident that, if we have the will to embrace serious changes, we can keep this court operating  and serving the people of Detroit.”
Talbot is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he earned a degree in public
administration. While attending the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law, he  worked for  the city of Detroit under the Jerome P. Cavanagh administration. In 1975, while in the private  practice of law, he was appointed by Mayor Coleman A. Young to the Detroit Housing Commission; Talbot served as a commissioner until he was appointed to the Detroit Common  Pleas Court in 1978. In 1980, Talbot was appointed to Detroit Recorder’s Court. He was  appointed to the Wayne Circuit Court in 1991 and to the Court of Appeals in 1998.
Talbot helped draft Michigan’s Crime Victim’s Rights Act and served on the State Bar of
Michigan’s Special  Committee on Victims of Crimes. A past chair of the State Bar’s Criminal  Law Section, he has also served on the State Bar’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and  Committee of Court Administration. He is a recipient of the State Bar of Michigan Service  Award and the Michigan Corrections Association Judicial Servant Award. Talbot was a member of the Judicial Tenure Commission from 2004 to 2010; he currently chairs the Court Reporting  and Recording Board of Review for the Michigan Supreme Court.

Supreme Court video series features veterans courts

“Help for Heroes” video tells story of veterans’ courts, veterans’ triumphs
LANSING, MI, May 24, 2013
Veterans’ struggles with substance abuse and emotional trauma end in victory in “Help for Heroes,” the newest episode in Court Stories, the Michigan Supreme Court’s online video series.

“Help for Heroes” features interviews with veterans who completed the 17th District  Court’s “Veterans Court” program in Redford. 17th District Court Chief Judge Karen Khalil said  she started the program after seeing offenders come before her who were veterans or on leave from military service.
“Not all veterans’ wounds are visible; some are emotional and mental, and these need
healing just as physical wounds do,” noted Khalil. “Some of my cases involved offenders who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or were using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, and they got in trouble with the law as a result. It was clear to me that they needed, and deserved, a better response than just being locked up.”
Veterans’ courts focus on counseling, mental health treatment, and other services to get at the root of offenders’ destructive behaviors. Each veteran works with a mentor who is also a veteran, explained Judge David Jordon, who started a veterans’ court at the 54B District Court in East Lansing.
Jordon, now retired, recalled how a veteran suffered a flashback as police quelled a riot in East Lansing. “He thought he was back in Iraq. His training, and the stress of being in combat situations, had hard-wired him for that kind of response -- the kind of behavior that got him arrested,” Jordon said.
“When they sign up, people in military service sign a blank check to the U.S. to give
everything up to and including their lives,” Jordon added. “How can we not give back to them?”
The veterans’ court program is not easy, and demands hard work and commitment from participants, the judges said.
“It’s a lot harder to do 18 months of probation, counseling, and all the other requirements than it is to do a short stint in jail,” Jordon observed.
Veterans who complete all the requirements of a veterans’ court program avoid
incarceration, “but much more importantly, they break the cycle of destructive behavior that would otherwise lead to repeated offenses and incarceration,” Khalil added. “Veterans court graduates are less likely to reoffend, and the program saves money, compared to the cost of jails and prisons. Veterans court is good for veterans, it’s good for taxpayers, and it’s good for the community.”
Design and editing for “Help for Heroes” was provided by Michigan Creative in East
Lansing. Court Stories tells the everyday stories of Michigan courts and the people they serve. The  series is on the “Michigan Courts” YouTube channel and on the Court’s web site.New Court Storiesvideos will be announced as they are posted to the “Michigan Courts”
YouTube channel,, and the
Michigan Courts “One Court of Justice” web site.