Daily Briefs

MIGOP announces new legal counsel

The Michigan Republican Party on Friday announced the appointment of Michael J. Pattwell as general counsel to the Michigan Republican Party. Pattwell is a member of the Clark Hill law firm in Lansing, where he specializes in political, environmental, and energy law. He holds a Juris Doctorate from Washington and Lee University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from James Madison College at Michigan State University. Pattwell had previously served with the Michigan Republican Party as lead counsel for its Election Day Operations Team, ensuring Michigan election law is followed at polling locations throughout the state.

“We are excited to add Michael Pattwell to our MIGOP team,” said Ron Weiser, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. Weiser continued, “Michael brings with him over a decade of legal experience which has included a focus on political and election law. We are proud to have him in our corner.”

Prior to joining Clark Hill, Pattwell, served as law clerk to Judge David A. Faber of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, and as minority counsel for the West Virginia House of Delegates. He is married with two children and resides in DeWitt.


Woman seeks new  trial in 2015 slaying

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A woman who pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the 2015 southwestern Michigan killing of a woman who was dating her ex-boyfriend wants a new trial.

Theresa Petto entered the plea after several days of her murder trial in the shooting death of 25-year-old Rachel Drafta in the Kalamazoo-area community of Portage. Petto, now 47, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but she later sought to withdraw her plea.
A motion hearing is Jan. 24.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that an appellate lawyer for Petto argued that her trial lawyer used false information to persuade her to enter the plea by saying she would only get treatment for mental health services if she did so. Petto says she otherwise would have let her trial continue.


New secretary of state seeks to settle gerrymandering suit

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — New Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson moved Thursday to settle a lawsuit that challenges the state's Republican-drawn legislative and congressional districts, a step that potentially could lead to new maps for the 2020 election.

The Democrat, who took office two weeks ago, filed a brief seeking to halt a federal trial scheduled for Feb. 5. The filing says a resolution is in the best interest of the state and its voters.

Democrats and the League of Women Voters sued just over a year ago , alleging that Michigan's U.S. House and state legislative districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to dilute the voting power of Democrats. The districts were enacted in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature and former Gov. Rick Snyder.

While voters approved a constitutional amendment in November creating an independent commission to handle redistricting after the 2020 Census, the case could impact the 2020 election.