Blogs > The Law Blogger

The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, December 31, 2011

By the Numbers: Clarkston Legal Production 2011

In my law practice, I drive from various courts across Michigan in a 2009 Ford Explorer.  That vehicle has 110,000 miles burned into it over the past 3-years.  That's a lot of court appearances.

Here are the numbers behind those miles for this past calendar year.

Michigan Court of Appeals.  Although I had not argued before the Court of Appeals in more than two years, I had 4 arguments before the intermediate appellate tribunal in 2011.  Also filed 25 briefs in that court; most of them applications for leave to appeal guilty pleas.  In the first week of 2012, I have two arguments.

Oakland County.  This is where we hold a "home field" advantage.  In 2011, I appeared in the circuit court, including the family court division, 118 times.  An additional 86 appearances were made in the Oakland County Probate Court.  Getting to know the judges pretty well over there.

Getting to know the Friend of the Court Referees as well with 30 trips to the FOC for early intervention conferences, or evidentiary hearings.

Macomb County.  Went "East Side" for 24 court appearances in 2011, all of them in the circuit or family courts; no East Side probate court appearances this year.  Many of these were for the Attorney General.

Wayne County.  In 2011, we made 20 court appearances in the "D"; fifteen were in the circuit and family courts, while the remaining 5 were all in the Wayne County Probate Court.

Genesee County.  Just to the North of our offices [we can be in Flint in less than a half hour], I made the dash to the Genesee County Circuit Court 10 times in 2011.  In addition, we made 4 trips to the Genesee Friend of the Court for hearings.

Livingston County.  Only five appearances in Livingston County Circuit Court this year; all on a single divorce case.

District Courts.  In 2011, we appeared in many of the various district courts placed throughout the counties in which we appear.  80 district court appearances to be precise; most of them for criminal matters.

Administrative Hearings.  Only three of these this year; for drivers license restorations and an implied consent refusal.

Keep in mind folks, these statistics are for but one attorney in the Karlstrom Cooney law firm; my partners have many other court appearances in these courts.  They do have, however, more "transactional" law practices than mine.  Along with Kay Caruso, Stuart Cooney, and Peter Keenan, we are the firm's litigators.

So these are my numbers for this year; it was a productive one.  We have our clients to thank for keeping us well engaged.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Valid Prenuptial Agreements Require Full Asset Disclosures

Prenuptial agreements, contracts executed in the anticipation of a marriage, have long been validated in Michigan courts.  Generally, there are two contingencies covered in a typical prenuptial agreement: a) the divorce of the contracting parties; and b) the death of one of the parties.

A primary requirement to enforcing a prenuptial agreement is the "special duty" of full disclosure of all assets by both contracting parties.  This requirement was recently examined in a key (but unpublished) decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The case, In the Matter of Kenneth Waller, originated right here in the Oakland County Probate Court.  The case illustrates the risk of executing a "do-it-yourself" prenuptial agreement.

The contract at issue in the Waller case waived the Wife's interest in a statutory share of her husband's estate in favor of the Husband's adult children.  The Wife challenged her Husband's estate at his death, despite her execution of the antenuptial agreement.

The contract was upheld by the probate court judge.  In reversing the probate court, the Court of Appeals focused on the asset disclosure and lack of evidence that any proper disclosure had been made by either party:
Accordingly, fair disclosure is required  under statute and caselaw in the context of
determining whether a prenuptial agreement can be deemed valid and enforceable.  The record indicates that there was no formal disclosure of assets by either decedent or Waller at the time of or before the execution of the  prenuptial agreement, such as through the presentation or exchange of written asset lists or through a verbal communication or declaration electronically recorded so as to preserve proof of disclosure.  The prenuptial agreement itself did not contain an itemization of assets and values,  nor did it indicate that disclosure of assets had taken place.  
Indeed, there is no evidence of even an informal, off-the-cuff discussion between Waller and decedent regarding the nature, extent, and value of each other’s assets prior to the execution of the agreement.  The probate court essentially found that Waller was sufficiently familiar with the assets held by decedent, making it unnecessary for decedent to redundantly disclose his assets to Waller before the agreement was signed, where  the assets had already been effectively “disclosed” to her simply through the evolution of their relationship in which familiarity with each other’s property naturally occurred.  We agree with the principle that if a party challenging a prenuptial agreement was fully aware of the other party’s assets and their value at the time of execution, an argument that there was a failure to fairly and formally disclose assets should fail; the purpose of a disclosure is to make a party  aware of what he or she may be giving up in signing a prenuptial agreement.
The Court of Appeals held that under such a record, the (rebuttable) presumption of non-disclosure should have been applied to invalidate the prenuptial agreement in that case.

Also, the Court of Appeals placed significance on the lack of a financial statement or schedule of assets.  These are typically attached to the antenuptial agreement.  This way, there can be no claim, as in the Waller case, of a failure to disclose, or a triggering of the presumption of nondisclosure.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Disparate Sentences for NBA Stars' Drunk Driving Convictions in Oakland County

A well-respected blog on sentencing picked-up on the infamous NBA drunk driving cases coming out of the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills, MI. The blog noted the difference between Jalen Rose's straight-forward OWI conviction [he did 14-days in the OCJ]; and the weapons charge component to Big Ben Wallace's OWI charge, recently resolved in the Oakland County Circuit Court before Judge Shalina Kumar.

Here is what the blog had to say about the two cases:

On the surface, it would appear that Wallace committed a (much?) worse offense but ultimately got a (much?) lighter sentence than Rose.  Of course, maybe there are some specific differences in the cases not obvious on the surface that justify this seeming disparity.  And, perhaps more importantly, the mere fact that can be (and often is) a lot of "low-level" sentencing disparity in this arena does not, in an of itself, necessarily establish that the applicable sentencing law is either unjust or ineffective.

Reading this blog post and being a local criminal defense attorney, I could not resist posting the following comment:

Great blog, DAB. This comment is from a criminal defense attorney in Oakland County, MI, where this Ben Wallace and Jalen Rose stuff went down. First, it is a suburb of Detroit; not in the "D", as we say. Also, Bloomfield Hills, where the district court is seated for that area, is a posh tony burb. (i.e. there are NBA stars driving around partying).
This comment seeks to shed some light on the "disparity" in the sentencing for the two NBA stars. Rose had the misfortune of driving drunk within the jurisdiction of the 48th District Court and to have his case randomly assigned to Judge Kim Small. Judge Small has made national headlines over the years for her drunk driving sentences; they often involve some jail time, even for first offenders with no criminal history. Currently, a group of high-end defense lawyers have challenged Judge Small, seeking to have her disqualified from all drunk driving cases on the basis that she is not fair or impartial, and that her "one-size-fits-all" sentencing policy (i.e. jail for all offenders), violates the "individualized sentencing" mandated by Michigan statute.
This is why Jalen Rose went to jail last summer. 
In the case of Ben Wallace, the big fella was OWI while packing some loaded cold steel in his Cadillac, upping his game to the felony level, and thereby "just passing through" the 48th District Court. Fortunately for him, although he too was randomly assigned to Judge Small, his attorneys executed a "fast break", waiving the preliminary exam, and binding Wallace over to the trial court. Once there, probation was available all day long. Good bye Judge Small; hello Judge Shalina Kumar. 
Unlike Rose, however, Wallace will have a felony weapons conviction on his record. Last year, Wallace spoke of going to law school. This probably puts the kabosh on that notion.
Here is a link to our local blawg coverage of Big Ben.

Sometimes an accused's notoriety helps his cause; sometimes it hurts the case.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Nursing Home Liability: Who Owns the Facility

A recent 2.35 million dollar Macomb County jury verdict shines a light on the ownership and practices of a nursing home in St. Clair Shores.  Bankruptcy and missing records clouded the identity of the real party in interest in a negligence law suit resulting from the 2008 choking death of a resident.

Turned out to be the Nightingale East Nursing Center, owned in part by a now-defunct company, and eventually traced to SavaSeniorCare, an LLC located in Atlanta, GA.

In the litigation, St. Clair Shores attorney John Perrin experienced an evidentiary mistrial and a mishandled document request in clawing his way to the jury verdict.  For their part, the defense attorneys claim that the botched corporate disclosure was not intentional.  Looking for the upside, defense attorneys Plunkett and Cooney (Jenny Andreou) claimed a partial victory through limiting the "non-economic" damage component of the verdict; a motion for remittur has been filed.

This death resulted from a resident choking on a golfball sized meatball; a largely unforeseeable event.  The jury found other liability factors in awarding plaintiff millions of dollars.  Obviously, we want to avoid this fate for any of our families and loved ones that are placed in a nursing home.

Serving as the guardian for more than 100 individuals, many of whom have been placed in nursing homes, I have learned that you can never pay close enough attention to the ward's care.  Complaints against licensed facilities are common and serve the purpose of compelling care improvements.

Nursing homes, assisted care facilities, and adult foster care residences provide a dizzying array of care choices and regulations.  Making the right placement for a family member or loved one is a critical decision.

In Macomb County, follow this link for skilled and basic care nursing homes.  In Oakland County, follow this link for the same information.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

6 Holiday Tips for Divorced Parents

Often, tensions escalate over the holidays as divorced parents struggle with the demands of scheduling the children to accommodate two households.  Holiday schedules are already difficult without the complications of a divorce judgment or divorce proceeding.

Here are some practical tips in dealing with holiday parenting time gleaned from divorce lawyers around the state.

  1. Reduce an alternating holiday schedule to a court order.  It is always best for the children when the parents can agree on a schedule.  Alternating holidays is most common when drafting the parenting schedule.  When both parents live close to one another, many families utilize a shared holiday model where the children spend time with one parent until noon, and the other  parent for the balance of the day; then the next year, they switch.  This works for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and other holidays.  
  2. Discuss the schedule with the children.  One solid co-parenting tactic is for both parents, once an agreement is reached, to communicate the schedule to the children.  This way, the children know in advance what to expect.  This can best be accomplished when both parents commit to rational communication and reasonable compromise for the children's sake.
  3. Keep the activities simple.  This tip is particularly essential when the children are relatively young and if the divorce is still fresh.  The wounds of the once-whole family have yet to heal; holidays are particularly painful for both children and parents.  Therefore, it makes sense to tone down the activities and avoid rushing hither and yon during your now-scheduled parenting time.
  4. Let your child express her feelings to you.  It is important to allow your children the opportunity to express their feelings of loss and disappointment and for you, as the parent, to validate those feelings.  What the child once experienced as an intact family unit has been fractured by divorce.  Therefore, pretending that everything is fine, or over-scheduling a whirlwind of activities to the point of distraction, will only add to the stress of your holiday parenting time.
  5. Involve your extended family.  The more love the child feels during the years immediately following a divorce, the better.  Therefore, schedule some quality family time with members of your extended family.  Certainly, this would be a great opportunity for your children to spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  If your extended family is highly dysfunctional then, er, not-so-much.  
  6. Avoid including a new "significant other".  This is the last thing you want to do at the holidays; not the time or the place.  Including your "significant other" too soon is a selfish thing to do to your children.  Upon reflection, you would probably agree that you would be doing that for yourself, certainly not for your children.  Children of divorce already struggle with guilt, a sense of loss, and insecurity.  They often perceive the introduction of a stranger, especially one that is close and intimate with their parent, as a threat, not a benefit from their parents' divorce.
Of course, the above holiday parenting tips must be adjusted to be age-appropriate.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this touchy subject.

Finally, a positive parental attitude over the holidays does wonders for a child's comfort and confidence.  Be the adult, not the child.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Michigan's Parole Process Explained

From time to time, our appellate clients asking about the parole process.  One way or another, incarceration and parole affects all of us; adding significant costs to maintain our freedom.

An effective criminal justice system depends on the ability of that system to reintegrate the overwhelming majority of convicted felons that have served their bit, back into some semblance of productive society.

The purpose of this post is to explain Michigan's parole process to our readers.  Whether you are a tax paying citizen, or someone with a direct connection to the MDOC, the costs and procedures affect everyone.

Here are the basics...

The Parole Board.
The Parole Board in Michigan was recently reduced in 2011 from 15 members to the current 10 members. The parole board members are appointed by the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The Board is the sole paroling authority for felony offenders committed to the MDOC. Members serve 4, 3, and two year terms. Regular meetings are convened by the board to assess and decide parole applications.

The Parole Eligibility Report.
A felony offender must serve the minimum sentence with the MDOC prior to becoming eligible for parole. A Parole Eligibility Report (PER) is prepared on behalf of the applicant by a staff member of the MDOC. This report informs the parole board of the background of an inmate-applicant, and makes sure the applicant's parole file is complete.

The PER also makes recommendations to the parole board for each applicant, taking "misconduct" tickets and the prior criminal record into account. The generation of this report is a critical step in the parole process.

If an applicant has not completed all of the requirements set forth in the judgment of sentence, or if his file is otherwise incomplete, this is noted in the report and parole will be denied.

The Parole Board's staffers use the PER to score a prisoner's parole guidelines. These statutorily-mandated parole guidelines form the backbone of the parole process.

The Parole Interview.
Upon submissions of a prisoner's PER, the prisoner is eligible to participate in an informal and non-adversarial interview with one or more Parole Board members assigned to the prisoner's parole panel. After this interview, a Case Summary Report is generated for the Parole Board's review.
This interview is an excellent opportunity for the prisoner to address members of the board, face-to-face, in order to make a positive impression on his candidacy for parole. The prisoner can address major misconduct tickets, and explain how and when he plans to complete any missing training requirements in order to enhance his eligibility for parole.

Of course, in a perfect world, the prisoner will have completed all required components set forth in his judgment of sentence. This is why good lawyering is so important at the trial phase of the accused's case. Corrections to the presentence investigation report must be made in the lower court as this is the “bible” relative to the prisoner as far as the MDOC is concerned. An inmate will be forced to live within the confines of any errors unless they are corrected on appeal within the timelines set out in the Michigan Court Rules.

Transition Accountability Plan.
Under the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative, the Parole Board and the MDOC are required to formulate a Transition Accountability Plan (TAP) for each prisoner facing parole eligibility.
The TAP serves the dual goals of assisting the prisoner with re-entry into our society, as well as assisting the Board with its parole decision. The TAP identifies specific risk factors for a particular inmate, sets goals relative to minimizing the identified risks, and sets forth a specific plan to help the inmate meet the established goals.

The Parole Board’s Broad Discretion.
In making decisions on parole, the Parole Board has very broad authority to decide the inmate's fate. Nevertheless, the legislature has imposed some restriction on the Board's parole decisions.
For example, the Board must follow the regulatory framework summarized in this post. Also, in no case will a prisoner be granted parole unless and until the Board is satisfied the prisoner will not become, "a menace to society or to the public safety."

In exercising its discretion, the Board takes into account a prisoner's remorse for having committed the offense for which he is incarcerated, his overall mental health, and his "social attitude". A healthy positive attitude is what it takes to achieve parole status; but that is a difficult attitude to acquire and portray from within the grim walls of a prison. The inmate seeking parole must toughen his resolve to acquire and maintain the proper attitude, shutting out all competing negative factors.

Returning to Society.
A prisoner's fate lies squarely within the hands of the Parole Board. At a minimum, the process described above must be followed to the "T". The most important factor beyond having all of one's required sentence components completed, including the payment of restitution, is the adoption and maintenance of a strong positive attitude.

Recidivism is a plague to our society and costs all of us dearly. The Parole Board's job is to identify likely re-offenders and keep them locked-up for the duration of their sentence. This is the cost to society for safety and the enjoyment of our freedom. If the parole process works, prisoners can attain parole, complete parole, and re-join the ranks of law abiding citizens.

The Michigan Court of Appeals published an opinion last month, In Re Parole of Raymond Haeger, explaining the nuts and bolts of the parole board in the context of the appellant-prisoner's CSC conviction and failed attempts at parole.

Some attorneys specialize in parole and probation consultations, assisting clients with the preparation and correction of their initial presentence reports, as well as with the parloe process.  Professional Parole Consulting is such an outfit located in Detroit, MI.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Anonymous Internet Critics

This blog has covered the defamation lawsuit filed by the Cooley Law School against one if it's more vocal critics; one of the legion of graduates that has trashed the law school in a blog titled "The Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam".  This post brings our readers up to date with some important recent developments in the case.

Cooley's defamation suit, pending in the Ingham County Circuit Court, was assigned to Circuit Judge Clinton Canady III. Cooley is represented by the Miller Canfield law firm and the anonymous blogger, using the pseudonym "Rockstar05", is represented by Berkeley, MI attorney John Hermann.

For their part, Miller Canfield has been vigorously prosecuting their cause of action, issuing subpoenas in two states [Michigan and California] to the Rockstar05's Internet service provider, seeking to rip the lid off the blogger's identity.

In September and October, hearings were conducted on Rockstar05's motion to quash Cooley's subpoenas.  Somewhere along the way, the internet service provider in California apparently made an inadvertent disclosure of the blogger's identity to the Miller Canfield firm, who immediately moved the court to amend the complaint, seeking to add the now-disclosed individual to the suit.

Judge Canady initially sequestered the pleadings and documents that referenced Rockstar05's identity while it considered supplemental briefings on this First Amendment issue.  In October, however, the lower court denied Rockstar05's motion to quash the subpoena, providing time for defendant to lodge an interlocatory appeal, and allowing an amicus [various media organizations] to intervene in the case.

Rocktar05 has appealed Judge Canady's decision relative to the subpoena.  The media has filed a hard-hitting amicus brief.  Miller Canfield's response on behalf of Cooley Law School is expected to be filed any day now.

This blog predicts that the Michigan Court of Appeals will grant leave for this issue to be decided; apparently one of first impression here in Michigan.

At stake is the ability of vocal critics of a "public figure" to express their opinion anonymously, without the fear of having their mask pulled off, and their identity disclosed.

You'll have to stay tuned for the results on this important case.  It could likely take a few years to wind its way through the court system.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Preparing for a Second Marriage

Many factors affect whether a second marriage will last: the relative age and incomes of the partners, whether either party has children, cohabitation prior to the second nuptials, and the education level of the parties.

And, of course, how could we forget the personality of the ex-spouse; perhaps the most important factor of all.

According to statistics published by the National Institute of Health, approximately 15% of second marriages end within 3-years; and 23% end within 5-years.  Overall, however, the divorce rate for second marriages has drawn even with that of first marriages; about 40%.  Also, in its 2009 report Marital Events of Americans, the Census Bureau claims first marriages last, on average, about as long as second marriages: about 8-years.

Here are some things to think about, and some steps to consider, before tying the knot for the second time.

Prenuptial Agreement.
For those with assets, this document is a must.  To be enforceable, the prenuptial agreement largely depends on two things: a) full disclosure by both parties of all their respective assets; and b) legal representation of each party by separate lawyers.  If your partner does not want to sign such an agreement, then you should seriously consider cohabitation rather than marriage.  This is a harbinger of trouble in the event of a split.

Couples with only modest estates going into second marriages generally do not need the complication of a prenuptial agreement.  If a marital estate grows during the second marriage, that estate will be subject to an equitable property division in the event of divorce.

Solid Estate Planning.
Prior to a second marriage, assets may be transferred into a trust for the benefit of the owner's children.  Also, retirement asset rollovers (from a 401(k) plan into an IRA, for example) can operate to protect the new spouse with survivor benefits, or not, as the case may be.

A Qualified Terminable Interest Property trust (QTIP) typically provides for interest income going to a surviving (second) spouse, with the principle going to the settlor's children from her first marriage upon the death of the second spouse.

Children from a prior marriage can also be provided for using an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.  This way, the new spouse can be designated as the beneficiary on the person's retirement assets and the children are designated beneficiaries of the death benefit from the life insurance policy.

Another common practice is to create a separate trust to provide for the distribution of separate property to the children from the first marriages and to create a joint trust to provide for the distribution of the marital estate of the second marriage.

Good Premarital Counseling.
One of the best things a couple can do prior to tying the second knot is to participate in joint counseling.  This should include religious counseling or premarital couples therapy, financial advice, and (separate) legal consultation.  Once separate legal counsel is received, the couple can certainly compare notes in order to get on the same page.

Going into a second marriage with your eyes open improves the chances of a successful nuptials.  When selecting an attorney to assist you with the necessary planning, find one that truly listens to your expressed wishes and pays close attention to the characteristics of your estate.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Miss Michigan "Super Drunk" Candidate in Highland Park

Former Miss Michigan Rima Fakih
Oops, busted.  Former Miss Michigan and Miss USA Rima Fakih, 26, of Dearborn, MI, allegedly was cited at 2:15 am in Highland Park for driving with a blood alcohol content of .20.

Unfortunately for the beauty queen, this qualifies her for a charge under Michigan's relatively new "super drunk" law.  While Fakih, like most other motorists, will be initially charged with a standard "operating while intoxicated" offense, there is the potential for the "super drunk" charge if her BAC is greater than .17.

This "super drunk" charge subjects drivers to stiffer penalties.  Those penalties include a one-year license suspension for first-time "super drunks"; an increase in the potential maximum jail sentence from 93-days to 180-days; higher fines; and mandatory use of an "ignition interlock" device.

The super drunk law also features the longest alcohol rehabilitation treatment requirement on the books; one-year.

If convicted as a "super drunk", Fakih's driver's license will be suspended by the Secretary of State for one-year.  After a 45-day "hard suspension" where all driving privileges are suspended, she can apply for restricted driving privileges for the balance of the year provided, however, that an " ignition interlock" device is installed in her vehicle.

If allowed to plead to an ordinary "operating while intoxicated" charge, the hard suspension may only be for 30-days, depending on Fakih's master driving record, and there will be no interlock requirement.

Installing an interlock device will cost her about $50 and up to $100 per month to maintain.

So we will just have to wait and see whether this beauty queen's celebrity [perhaps "infamy" is a better word] will aid her cause, or hurt her case.  It is unknown at this time whether she was charged under local ordinance or state law; or whether the local prosecutor will elect to charge her under the "super drunk" law or with just plain old ordinary OWI.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Dragon Suicides

This Tuesday, I will be heading to Detroit to present oral argument to a 3-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals.  The appeal is from a summary disposition of my client's wrongful death claim against the parents of a Lake Orion High School senior.

The LOHS senior hosted an impromptu graduation party in May 2008 while his parents were out dining and socializing until nearly 1:00 am.  The parents returned to a teenage house party meltdown; students puking, passing out, the furious father of a drunk freshman girl on the phone demanding answers and threatening to call the police. 

Early the next morning, one of the good friends of the student that hosted the house party hung himself in the basement of the Lake Orion home.  The decedent's estate raised claims of negligence in the failure to supervise the LOHS students and wrongful death.  The defendants in the law suit, the homeowners, have been represented by a law firm hired through their homeowners insurance. 

The lawsuit was dismissed from the Oakland County Circuit Court; from this summary disposition, the decedent's parents have appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals; oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday morning in Detroit.

My clients are the parents of the decedent, apparently one of 9 LOHS students or graduates to have killed himself within the last four years.  Two of the suicides occurred just last month.

This rash of LOHS-related suicides has led to the initiation of an on-line petition through Facebook sponsored by Lake Orion Reach Out.  The Reach Out group also seeks the formation of a suicide prevention class to be taught at the high school.

What is it about LOHS and the surrounding community that could be causing students to take their own lives?  Is there any connection between the cases?
One of the many comments to the Oakland Press article linked above suggests that bullying occurs at the school.  While there is a correlation between teen-age bullying and suicide, I doubt it can explain this Oakland County phenomena.

Nevertheless, to its credit, the Lake Orion Community Schools is implementing a district-wide bullying prevention program.

Here is a recent editorial on this sad subject from the Lake Orion Review, published following this post.

And here are some resources if you, a family member, or a friend or loved one is at risk for suicide:

Suicide crisis lines

Suicide prevention, education and treatment

Most often, people on the verge of committing suicide feel hopeless and depressed.  They need to be given the hope and the strength to hang on for another day.  

They need to understand that suicide is an irreversible decision.  We need to identify and assist those among us who are at risk, before they reach the point of no return.

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