Daily Briefs

Michigan’s first black female federal judge dies at age 84

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan’s first black female federal judge, Anna Diggs Taylor, has died at age 84.

Taylor’s death was announced Monday at the Detroit federal courthouse. She died Saturday at an assisted living center in Grosse Pointe Woods following a brief illness.

Taylor was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. She was chief judge in Michigan’s Eastern District in 1997 and 1998. She retired in 2011.

In 2006, Taylor made headlines when she said an eavesdropping program without court oversight by the Bush administration was unconstitutional. An appeals court overturned the decision, saying the American Civil Liberties Union didn’t have standing to sue.

Taylor is survived by her husband, former utility executive S. Martin Taylor. In 2005, Crain’s Detroit Business listed them as a Detroit power couple.s Union and the others didn’t have standing to sue.


Key court hearing  for state official in Flint water scandal

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge has begun hearing testimony against a Michigan official who faces criminal charges tied to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak during the Flint water crisis.

Dr. Eden Wells is the state’s chief medical executive. She’s charged with involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.

The state attorney general says Wells and others could have saved lives by telling the public about a Legionnaires’ outbreak. It wasn’t disclosed until January 2016.

The first witnesses Monday included a former environmental regulator, Jim Sygo, who said he talked to Wells about legionella bacteria in 2015. Some experts have blamed the outbreak on Flint’s use of the Flint River for water.

A judge must decide if there’s enough evidence to send Wells to trial. The hearing resumes today.


No investigation after dozens of unclaimed cremains found

ATHENS, Mich. (AP) — Officials say the discovery of about three dozen boxes of cremated remains in southern Michigan after the death of a funeral director isn’t being investigated as a potential criminal matter.

Calhoun County Medical Examiner Dr. Joyce DeJong says the family of Joy Spencer Spoor discovered the cremains in storage after her Oct. 14 death. Spoor was a former owner of Spencer Family Funeral Home in Athens, a village about 110 miles (177 kilometers) west of Detroit.

The funeral home was sold in a bankruptcy auction in 2015. The property is being cleared for redevelopment. DeJong says families are being notified about the unclaimed remains.

Phil Douma, executive director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association, tells the Battle Creek Enquirer that it’s common for funeral homes to have unclaimed remains.