Daily Briefs June 23

Midland County judge rules state’s medical pot law is illegal
MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) — A judge has struck down Michigan’s medical marijuana law in Midland County, saying it can’t trump a federal ban on drugs.
Circuit Judge Jonathan Lauderbach recently made his decision in the case of two people on probation who wanted to use medical marijuana. He says it’s not his job to decide whether the use of pot is good public policy, but he believes federal law trumps Michigan law.
Lauderbach says the medical marijuana law can’t interfere with the work of Congress. The practical effect of his decision is limited to Midland County, but it’s significant because he’s a circuit judge.
In March, a Dearborn judge struck down the voter-approved law in his district court.
Midland County Prosecutor Mike Carpenter tells the Midland Daily News the law has created “chaos.”

Gov. Snyder signs bill protecting nonprofits from lawsuits
Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation into law that would protect nonprofit organizations from being sued by parents who had signed a written release allowing their child to participate in a sport.

“Nonprofits were exposed to liability for injuries suffered by children participating in sports, even though the parent or guardian had signed a written release of liability,” said Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia. “The bill permits use of the waiver as long as the injury was sustained during the normal participation in the sport or activity. However, if the injury resulted because of negligence on the part of the sponsoring organization, parents could still seek legal relief.”

Changes in the law were deemed necessary after Michigan courts determined that written waivers signed by parents were invalid based on common-law rules. Walsh’s bill provides a statutory exception to common law that the Michigan Supreme Court ruled necessary.

The bill would cover only nongovernmental, nonprofit organizations, because governmental organizations such as schools already have immunity, and for-profit ventures can obtain insurance.

Gov. Snyder appoints McNeill to Appellate Defender Commission
Thomas G. McNeill, a member and practice department manager at Dickinson Wright PLLC, was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to Michigan’s Appellate Defender Commission. He follows in the tradition of deceased Dickinson Wright partner John E.S. Scott, who served this commission with great distinction.

The goal of the Appellate Defender Commission is to oversee the delivery of appellate legal services to indigent criminal defendants. The seven-member commission is appointed by the Governor.  McNeill is one of two recommendations for the governor’s appointment by the Michigan Supreme Court. Other recommendations come from the State Bar, Court of Appeals, and the Michigan Judges Association.

McNeill specializes in commercial litigation and has tried 33 cases to verdict or award, compiling a record of 33-1. He received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and J.D. from the University of Virginia. He is president-elect of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter and a State Bar of Michigan Foundation Fellow.

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