Category Archives: Politics

Marijuana Patients vs Bloomfield Township Round I | 2.9.2011

Earlier in the week, I filed a lawsuit on behalf of Christopher Frizzo against the City of Royal Oak.  So when we appeared before the Hon. Denise Langford-Morris in the Marijuana Patients vs Bloomfield Township Case on Wednesday, 2.9, before the Hon. Denise Langford-Morris, I had little idea what to expect.  The Marijuana Wars to date have been nothing if not interesting and surprising.  The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is under siege.  Local municipalities and counties not accustomed to having their powers curtailed or limited are resisting mightily — picture a choking or gasping swimmer flailing in the water and so desperate to stay above the surface that when the lifeguard comes to save him, he starts to push the lifeguard under water. Government hates to have its powers limited and the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act does just that (robs government of its powers).

2.9 was round 1:  instead of a bikini clad woman holding up a Round 1 placard or sign, co-counsel and I got to see William Hampton, the leader of the municipal powerhouse law firm, Secret Wardle, et al.  Hampton is considered part of the old guard in Oakland County .  We’ve had other “encounters” but never in court.  In fact, I don’t think he’s ever seen me in court — certainly he’s never seen me argue a case.  All of these guys have heard the rumors about me — powerful, eloquent, passionate, witty, quick, smooth, gifted, etc. — but they all figure the rumors are overblown, exaggerated or the fawnings of young lawyers.  Guys like Hampton usually think,

I’ll handle him.

Uh, no they (you) won’t.  The powers that be in state government, etc. may try to bring me down (that comes with the territory of being a target or a public figure) but they’ll never bring me down or handle me in an actual trial courtroom.  NEVER.  So, when I get up to argue after my co-counsel Tom Loeb and William Hampton, the importance of the moment is not lost on me.  I am arguing for Michigan Medical Marijuana patients everywhere.  I will not let you down.

Round 1:  Bloomfield Township filed a motion to dismiss our Medical Marijuana Lawsuit challenging Bloomfield Township’s ordinance.  Is it based on law?  No.  Are they saying that our client’s suit is not factually just?  No.  Rather, they argue that our clients, who elected to file this suit in pseudonyms, John Doe and Richard Roe rather than expose their confidential and private names and other information to the police powers, etc., MUST identify themselves in order to have to access to the courts.  Forget long-standing precedent, e.g., Roe v Wade, Doe v University of Michigan and others, argues Bloomfield Township — they want to “out” the patients.  So we are in court.  Bloomfield Township trying to “out” and “intimidate” its residents; Loeb and I to protect the residents.  Bloomfield Township to fight the law, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act; Loeb and I to enforce it.

So when we get done arguing, I look at the courtroom and I sense Hampton’s surprise.  I imagine him saying to himself

Damn . . . this kid can argue.

There were no knockouts in Round 1 but I wasn’t expecting one.  Maybe Hampton or Bloomfield Townshp were but as I said, they know that they are in for a fight. I fight I do not intend to lose.

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Medical Marihuana Busts in Oakland County

That’s it . . . I’ve had about all I can stand of the narcotics enforcement teams raids upon and prosecutions of people who are attempting to follow the law in Michigan.  Michigan voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill to legalize and decriminalize medical marihuana.  The same old tired tactics are being used by the same old narcotics enforcement teams and narcotics prosecutors special units.  Don’t stand up and say that you represent the People of the State of Michigan and then go up against the will of the People of the State of the Michigan.

I’m sick of their methods.  I’m tired of their tactics.  I’m sick and tired of their stubbornness and normative judgments.  Sick and tired.   And I can do something about it… trials, trials and more trials.  Its what I do . . . Its what I do well.

See ya court guys.  When we’re done cross examining some of these guys, they’ll need to visit a medical marihuana clinic because I’m going to be in a pain in their a@@.

Hillary and a Cabinet of Rivals

For months before the election of Barack Obama, I opined and argued to all who would listen and to some who didn’t want to hear it, that Barack Obama was different. Not because he is African-American…in that regard he is only different from any other President-elect or President. This surely makes him different but not in the way that I meant it. What I meant is that seems and sounds different from other politicians: he isn’t petty! And pettiness seems to go hand in hand with politicians and politics these days. Bush saying that he’s got “political capital” and that he’s going to spend it seems a perfect example. Obama endured through a brutal campaign. Lesser men would have and did crumble. A woman did not however. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the woman that the Red States love to hate until they have someone more to hate than her, stood toe to toe with Obama. Like Hearns and Leonard, they stood in the center of the ring and bloodied one another. He won the war but she bloodied him pretty good. Such fights usually leave scars unseen by the eyes…those left on the psyche and in the hearts of the combatants. The winner resentful that the loser out him through it. The loser hankering for a rematch crying foul.

Not Obama. Despite a bloody battle complete with soundbites left for the Republicans to chew on and repeat with glee, Hillary left her mark on Obama. Usually the winner holds a grudge with tHe loser’s name on a private shortlist of people to get back later. Pettiness. Obama, as I predicted, rose above it. Above the attacks, Bill’s comments, Hillary’s challenges about the 3 am phone call…all of it! He appointed her our statesman…his face to the foreign leaders. My foes are crying that he picked a liberal, a Democrat…they don’t get it do they? Leonard picked Hearns to fight for him. The Red Sox picked the Yankees to represent them abroad. Greatness does not rear its head too often. It is often scared by pettiness, jealousy and pride. Obama is great. Once in a while people should listen and hear what others are saying. If they cannot listen or hear, than just watch with eyes open. We are witnessing something truly unique. A politician embracing his adversaries, first McCain, then Lieberman, then Defense Secretary and Gates, a Republican, and now Clinton. Only with eyes squeezed shut can they not see that he is different, not petty, not small but instead great. While we’re taught not to brag, I cannot resist doing so here…it feels good to be right.

Politics at the Table on a Saturday Night Out

I should have known better.  Many, many times, I have reminded my clients, friends and even some who are both clients and friends that “pride goeth before the fall.”  While I have known this for years, ever since the movie The Departed, when a nervous priest warns Jack Nicholson (in character) at a lobster restaurant that “pride goeth before the fall”, a sticky note with this phrase on it remains tacked in my mind.  For those who konw me, I have remained proud of our country for electing Barack Obama as our 44th President.  He will not disappoint — if the past few hours are foreshadowing the next few years of an Obama administration, he will surpass all expectations.  Joe Lieberman campaigned against him and Obama has warned that Lieberman should not be punished for this “betrayal”.  I could’ve only been more pleased were my daughter to take a day off tormenting her 2 brothers.  So with great pride, I brought up the election on a night out with friends on Saturday.  Pride went . . . within a few moments, I “fell”.

Cosmopolitan, fun, successful . . . the people I was with were “my kind of people”.  It turns out that only 1 shared my enthusiasm about Obama’s election.  1!!  Within a few minutes, I (goaded on by my friend, Jack Daniels) was defending not just the optimistic calm that surrounds Obama like the dust around the Peanuts character Pigpen, but also the reasons why his election was so important.  Sometimes . . . ok, nearly all of the time, my passion and sharp tongue exceed my calm.  So these were the people responsible for McCain’s 4 votes in Michigan . . . these folks were the ones that were still, so it seems days later, arguing for McCain.  It reminded me in a sense of those Japanese soldiers left on islands following the end of WW II who didn’t quite get the latest information — “the war is over”.  Even Sarah Palin with new duds and media accessibility have moved on.   While we tried to recover and enjoy dinner and the company, most who know me should know that I wear my emotions and heart on my sleeve — I do not move on quickly from a battle or fight.  Saturday was no exception . . .

A long time ago, I learned never to discuss politics on a first date, during a job interview and with a jury in a jury trial — you just never know who stands for what.  No matter how reasonable our positions on politics seem, some folks just won’t see it our way.  In other words, some of my friends must watch Fox News . . . shudder the thought, now that I actually think about it.  I learned something else on Saturday night:  Saturday night out at the table is no place for politics . . . unless of course you think like me.

Judge . . . Eh, I Mean, Oakland County Prosecutor Cooper

Historic.  Monumental.  Shattering the glass ceiling.  Inspiring.  All words used to describe the election of the first African-American President, President Elect Barack Obama.  All appropriate and accurate.  Amidst the hoopla and celebration of Obama’s election, much further down the ballot, another historic, monumental, glass-ceiling shattering and inspiring election took place in Oakland County — the election of the first-ever woman to the position of Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney.  The Honorable Jessica Cooper, a former district court judge, circuit court judge and Court of Appeals judge, wrestled the county’s chief law enforcement spot from the stranglehold of the Republican Party whose leaders, Brooks Patterson, Richard Thompson and then David Gorcyca, were entrenched in that spot for decades.  Judge Cooper beat David Law, a Republican who promised to continue many of the traditions of the current prosecutor’s office. While I will not delve too deeply into some the campaign antics and tactics used against Judge Cooper, I must say that she is a better sport than I for having dealt with them so gracefully.

As a former member of this Prosecutor’s Office (many, many years ago) and someone who practices regularly in the Oakland County Courts, I am excited at the idea of change in this most important office.  By no means do I expect that Judge Cooper will be a pushover . . . anyone who has any modicum of experience in dealing with her would know better and I have had my fair share.  But she will bring fresh ideas, fresh minds and fresh perspective to this office.  Who will her assistants be?  Will she keep all of the current staff?  Will she change policies, some of which have been around since the Patterson days?  Will she move division heads and/or more importantly, pay attention to the manner in which some of the assistants treat opposing lawyers?  Time will tell but if I know anything about Judge Cooper it is that she will not continue with business as usual.

For the first time a woman is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the richest county in the state and one of the richest in the nation.  Another historic, monumental moment in which a glass ceiling was shattered and a sacred cow sacrificed.  Way to to Judge . . eh, I mean Prosecutor Cooper.

A Truly Great Day For America

I have tried to teach my children that anything is possible.  That regardless of one’s background, race, religion, ethnicity, looks or orientation nothing is beyond reach.  In short, I have tried to teach my children about the promise that America holds — one of those “things” that sets us apart and above other nations and great societies.  “Only in America”, people say when something miraculous happens . . . “Only in America”, they (the they that always seem to know just what to say at any given moment) exclaim when someone rises above their circumstances and accomplishes great things.  “Only in America”.  Yet, in many ways we are hypocrites and have been so arrogantly.  We invade a country and then tell other nations that cannot or must not do so.  We emit greenhouse gases but complain when others do so as well.  We demand that human rights are honored abroad but then sanction invasions of privacy here that would make our collective blood boil were they occur elsewhere.  And the worst of all . . . the false promise to a portion of our society that they could be anything . . . even President, but then continue to shun anyone other than white men who vie for the position.  While I am not black and cannot know what it is like to be, I have lived with the idea that it would difficult for one of my own kind (Jewish) to become our leader.

Wednesday morning, I awoke with a different feeling.  To see people black and white, red and yellow, old and young, Jewish and Christian celebrating, some in the streets, over the election of Barack Obama was a sight I will never forget and one that to this moment makes me smile, as I am doing so now just thinking about it.  For once, we as a people and nation put our money where our mouth is.  I could see and feel genuine pleasure on the faces of African-Americans, some on television and some in my immediate vicinity. They were . . . happy.  Relieved.  Proud.  It is a feeling that we all deserve to experience. It is a feeling of satisfaction.  It is a feeling like when makes a promise and to your surprise they keep it.

One of my mentors and dear friends, Steve Fishman, the great trial attorney and sports sage, called it the greatest moment in his lifetime.  I haven’t lived as long as Steve nor experienced as much but the grandeur of the moment is not lost on me.  Good for you, President-Elect Obama.  Great for you, America.