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CRIMINAL 19: Traffic stop leads to vehicle search after the smell of marijuana.

In this case, Police Officer W observed a vehicle apparently speeding on a residential street in Detroit. Officer W commenced a traffic stop of the vehicle and the two persons who were in the car. Defendant was in the driver’s seat. Officer W approached the vehicle on the driver’s side, spoke with defendant, and smelled an odor of freshly burned marijuana from the vehicle.

Officer W then asked defendant to exit the vehicle. Officer W explained that, because of the freshly burnt marijuana that was emitting from the vehicle, he asked defendant to step out of the car.

Vehicle Search

The smell led Officer W to suspect that defendant possibly was under the influence of marijuana while driving. A field sobriety test was not conducted on defendant. Immediately after defendant stepped out, Officer W began to search the vehicle. This search resulted in the finding of cocaine. The cocaine was packaged in two clear knotted bags. One bag was located beneath the driver’s seat. The other bag was discovered in the arm rest.


Defense counsel raised Fourth Amendment issues about the traffic stop and the vehicle search. The defense argued the smell of marijuana itself doesn’t give him the right to search an individual’s vehicle. He asked defendant to step out immediately. He didn’t know if the defendant was under the influence.

Probable Cause

The court stated the defendant does not have to be under the influence, because the law states that you can’t operate a motor vehicle while smoking marijuana. You don’t even have to be under the influence. You cannot have or operate a motor vehicle while smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana, in and itself, that’s what gave Officer W probable cause.

The smell of burned marijuana does provide probable cause to search a defendant’s vehicle, in that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act does not allow for the use of marijuana in a vehicle or in a place opened to the public. You don’t necessarily have to be under the influence of marijuana, but the use of marijuana suffices.

Facing Criminal Charges

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MICHIGAN DIVORCE 79: Plaintiff intentionally hindered the sale of the house.

The court found that the parties were equally at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, and it found that Plaintiff had intentionally hindered the sale of the house after the court ordered that it be listed so it could receive a realistic determination of the house’s value. The record showed that Plaintiff had declined several showings.

MICHIGAN WILLS/TRUSTS 33: Trustees required to provide notice informing recipients that they may challenge the validity of a trust and the period allowed for bringing such a challenge.

The notice sent clearly advised her that if she wanted to contest the validity of the Trust in a judicial proceeding, the law required her to do so within six months from the date of the letter. Nothing in the statute requires a trustee to inform the recipients of the specific legal consequences of not acting during the time allowed.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 97: The court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff.

The trial court found that plaintiff sustained her burden of establishing that a constructive trust was necessary to prevent defendant from being unjustly enriched. Accordingly, the court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff and ordered defendant to convey his interest in the property to plaintiff.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

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