NJ Supreme Court Recognizes Medical Marijuana Discrimination

A funeral director who claims he was terminated because of his use of medical marijuana to manage cancer-related pain may pursue discrimination claims against his former employer, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.

As we previously reported, the state’s Appellate Division last year reinstated Justin Wild’s anti-discrimination claims against his former employer, Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.

After returning to work following a car-accident-related injury, Wild informed his employer that he had been using medical marijuana to treat his cancer. He explained that his doctor did not perform a drug test after his car accident because he did not appear impaired and the doctor already knew that a test would reveal the presence of marijuana metabolites. The funeral home then administered its own drug test to Wild and he tested positive for marijuana metabolites. As a result, Wild’s employment was terminated.

Before the New Jersey Supreme Court announced it would review this decision, the state’s legislature amended the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, to explicitly provide employment protections for medical marijuana users. In particular, the amended statute now prohibits employers from taking any adverse employment action “based solely on the employee’s status” as a medical marijuana patient. In addition, the amendment provides that where an employer does have a drug testing policy, any employee or applicant who tests positive for marijuana must be provided an opportunity to present a legitimate medical explanation for the positive result or to request a retest.

At the time that Wild was terminated, however, the Compassionate Use Act did not provide such explicit protection. Thus, it was up to the judiciary to determine whether employees could nonetheless pursue claims for adverse employment actions related to the use of medical marijuana. The trial court’s answer to this question was no, and it dismissed Wild’s claims, relying on the provision of the Compassionate Use Act that states, “nothing in [the Compassionate Use Act] shall be construed to require … an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.”

In reversing the trial court’s dismissal, the Appellate Division held that Wild had stated a cognizable claim for discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) on the basis of his disability. The Appellate Division reasoned, “the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights” which included the right to be reasonably accommodated.

In reviewing this decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s ultimate holding and the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. Notably, however, the Supreme Court declined to adopt the broad view that “the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights.” Specifically, the court observed that there are two particular provisions of the Compassionate Use Act that can impact an NJLAD claim: (1) the provision stating that employers are not required to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace; and (2) the prohibition against operating a vehicle or other heavy equipment when under the influence of marijuana.

The five-page per curiam opinion did not discuss the effect of the recent amendments to the Compassionate Use Act. The court referred only to the 2018 version of the Act, implying that it will not apply the amendments retroactively. As the decision pointed out, there are cases where an employee’s medical marijuana use may warrant termination. Employers can still terminate an employee for arriving to work impaired or for having or using marijuana while in the workplace. In addition, employers may face civil and criminal liability for allowing an employee to operate a vehicle while impaired.

As this area of the law is rapidly developing, employers should consult with experienced employment counsel to ensure that they are on solid ground before taking adverse action against an employee who has tested positive for marijuana (medicinal or otherwise) and that their drug testing policies are compliant with the Compassionate Use Act and the holding in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/nj-supreme-court-recognizes-medical-11092/

Alleged drunken driver, 73, spits in squad car, referencing COVID-19, police say

Madison police squad stock file photo

An alleged drunken driver repeatedly spit in the back of a squad car while referencing COVID-19 on Monday morning, Madison police reported.

James A. Bailey, 73, of Madison, told the arresting officer he was contaminating surfaces, mentioning that the COVID-19 coronavirus can be present for several hours, “so we would all be dead in 72 hours,” police spokesman Joel DeSpain said in a statement.

A witness told police Bailey was driving erratically in the pedestrian area of Library Mall at the lower end of State Street, and this is where police contacted him, DeSpain said.

Bailey was not showing signs of actually having COVID-19, but the officer needed to have the department’s COVID-19 Task Force thoroughly clean the back of her squad due to all of the saliva, DeSpain said.

Bailey was tentatively charged with discharge of bodily fluids at a public safety worker, threatening a law enforcement officer, and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime-and-courts/alleged-drunken-driver-73-spits-in-squad-car-referencing-covid-19-madison-police-say/article_849c628e-d735-55f8-85a5-616ba3369064.html


117484/6/2020 12:30 AM PT

Colorado Rockies legend Todd Helton was sentenced to 2 days in jail over a 2019 incident … this after the 46-year-old pleaded guilty to DUI in court last month.

Todd was busted in Knoxville, Tenn. on March 18, 2019 after cops say the former MLB first baseman lost control of his truck and crashed it into a telephone pole.

Officers say when they arrived on scene … Helton was being taken care of by emergency medical personnel — and had admitted to taking Ambien before getting behind the wheel.

But, in the police report, cops say they found a plastic cup that reeked of booze inside his ride … and eventually, they issued a misdemeanor DUI citation to the ex-baseball player.

Helton entered a treatment program immediately after the crash after expressing remorse for his actions, but the case dragged on in court for nearly a year before he finally cut a plea deal with prosecutors on March 10.

A spokesperson for the Knox County district attorney’s office tells TMZ Sports that in exchange for pleading guilty-as-charged to DUI … he received a sentence of 48 hours in custody.

Helton also received 11 months and 29 days on unsupervised probation, a $350 fine and got his license suspended for 1 year. Helton was also ordered to attend a Victim Impact Panel.

We reached out to Helton’s attorney for comment, but so far, no word back yet.

Of course, this was not Todd’s first run-in with DUI trouble … he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired back in 2013 in Colorado.

Helton — who played his college baseball at the University of Tennessee — is considered the greatest Rockie of all-time … and is expected to push for a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame someday. https://www.tmz.com/2020/04/06/todd-helton-jail-time-dui-case-march-2019-colorado-rockies/

County prosecutors file first criminal charge for violation of stay-at-home order


LAWRENCE — Marion County prosecutors filed their first criminal charge Thursday for failure to comply with the state’s stay-at-home order.

Prosecutors charged Shayne King on April 2 with failure to comply with an emergency travel watch or warning, a class B misdemeanor, following his drunk driving arrest by Lawrence Police on March 31.

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At 9:35 pm on March 31, Lawrence Police officers were dispatched to a single vehicle rollover crash with possible entrapment in the area of 6200 Oaklandon Road.

King told police he missed the curb before crashing, and police noted his speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol, court records show. During the arrest, King became combative and verbally abuse toward officers and bit one of them, according to court documents.

He was provided a urinal jug and threw it across the room three times, prosecutors said.

“Shayne King did not state that he was traveling for any essential means while he was operating while intoxicated nor was he traveling to/from work,” read the charging documents. “Officers did not locate any food or grocery items inside the vehicle during inventory. Shayne King’s behavior and actions resulted in several officers and medical staff having to come in close contact with Shayne King unnecessarily during the incident at a time when social distancing was recommended.”

Additionally, King’s behavior in the hospital unnecessarily increased the workload of already very busy medical personnel, prosecutors said.

King is charged with OWI, OWI with an ACE of .15 or more, OWI while endangering a person, resisting law enforcement, and failure to comply with an emergency travel watch or warning by engaging in non-essential travel.

No attorney is listed for King in court records and an initial hearing is scheduled for May 7.

Indiana code states during a “watch” local travel advisory, only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended, and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations.

Call 6 Investigates requested data from Indiana State Police on enforcement of the stay at home order. Between March 25th and April 1st, Indiana State Troopers have issued 21 written citations (tickets) for violation of the stay at home order, said ISP Sgt. John Perrine. 

In each case, these tickets were in addition to other alleged criminal offenses, according to Perrine.

The final authority to move forward with the official filing of charges rests with the respective prosecutor of venue in each of these instances, Perrine said.

Zach Osowski, spokesperson for the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, told Call 6 Investigates they’re aware of at least 9 criminal charges filed against individuals throughout the state for disobeying the disaster emergency order. https://www.theindychannel.com/news/coronavirus/marion-county-prosecutors-file-first-criminal-charge-for-violation-of-stay-at-home-order

Charged for a DUI Four Years Later, Woman Faces Prison After Turning Life Around

Danielle Sutherland speaks before the House Judiciary Committee

Danielle Sutherland speaks before the House Judiciary CommitteeArizona State Legislature

How long is too long to be charged for a victimless crime you committed years ago? Should it matter that you’ve turned your life around in the intervening years?

Danielle Sutherland was arrested several times in 2015 while in grips of a crippling addiction to prescription pills — a faulty coping mechanism she developed after being raped and honorably discharged from the Navy years earlier. She pleaded guilty to the crimes she was charged with each time, suffered the consequences, completed a short prison stint and probation, and changed her life for the better. She sought help, began pursuing a degree in social work, and quit abusing drugs. 

Now, just as she is about to graduate from Arizona State University, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has finally filed charges against Sutherland for a DUI she committed in October 2015. She is facing a 10-month prison sentence.

“Did I make a mistake and do I deserve to be punished? Yes. But I don’t think a prison sentence for me today is appropriate given what I’ve done to do better for myself and help my community,” Sutherland told Phoenix New Times. “I take full accountability for everything that I’ve done, but what hurts me the most is that Arizona statutes allow for mandatory sentencing up to seven years without looking at what’s been done since, and whether there’s any circumstances that could allow for probation or mitigated sentencing.”

The story of Sutherland’s past is based on interviews with Sutherland and corroborated by a review of hundreds of pages of court records from Sutherland’s run-ins with the law.

Growing up, her family had instilled in her a sense of pride to be an American. The 9/11 attacks happened while she was attending college. She joined the Navy two years later and become a hospital corpsman, motivated, she said, by a desire to “defend our country and help our men and women recover if hurt.”

One day while stationed in Camp Pendleton, she was sent home sick with a migraine. Her chief knocked on her door later and said he had brought her medication for her head. She took it. The next thing she remembers is waking up early in the morning with the man naked and on top of her.

At first, Sutherland tried to move on with her life as if nothing had happened. But she eventually broke down and was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2005. That traumatic event was the beginning of a decade-long downward spiral for Sutherland as she began to abuse prescription drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. After a string of misdemeanor DUI arrests in New Mexico in 2010, her family flew her out to Arizona and had an intervention.

“It didn’t stick in 2010, but that seed was planted,” Sutherland told New Times. “I went to Crossroads [rehab]. I was there for 10 months, but that didn’t stick. Every day I woke up and tried to be better, but I did not dig to where it actually came from until 2014 when I went to a military sexual trauma program in Long Beach.”

While Sutherland ping-ponged between using and staying clean during that time, she did stay out of trouble with the law. But when she returned to Phoenix at the end of 2014, she didn’t continue to receive treatment or counseling and spiraled down even further. 

In January 2015, Sutherland was arrested for a misdemeanor DUI in Phoenix. It was handled in veterans court. Sutherland was convicted and sentenced to probation. Six months later, in June, she was arrested for another DUI. Court records indicate that Sutherland was driving under the influence of Klonopin when she rear-ended another person’s vehicle. The person whose car she hit did not respond to messages from prosecutors, and court records do not indicate that the person was injured. (Sutherland says there were no injuries.)

While released and awaiting charges for the June DUI, Sutherland was arrested for two aggravated assaults on health care practitioners within the span of two weeks.

On June 24, Sutherland punched a male health care practitioner in the arm while he was trying to treat her at Good Samaritan Hospital on 12th Street and McDowell Road in Phoenix. Two weeks later, on July 6, Sutherland kicked another nurse in the chest after she had been brought to the hospital by the Phoenix Fire Department in an altered state of consciousness. Sutherland had pulled the intravenous needle out of her arm, causing it to bleed. When a nurse tried to stop the bleeding, Sutherland kicked her.

Police reports state that neither nurse was seriously injured. Neither sought restitution. Both nurses told officers they had contacted police because they believed Sutherland was a danger to herself and others and needed to be stopped. Sutherland told police that she had blacked out both times and had no recollection of either incident. The nurse who was kicked told police she felt probation and counseling would be an appropriate sentence for Sutherland. 

For those assaults, Sutherland pleaded guilty and was sentenced concurrently. In September, a judge ordered Sutherland to complete two years of supervised probation, pay thousands of dollars in fines, complete anger management counseling and substance abuse treatment, and take regular drug tests. 

But about a month after being sentenced to probation, Sutherland got another DUI. According to an incident report from the Phoenix Police Department, on October 22, Sutherland was seen driving up onto curbs and stopping in the middle of the street. Police responded and she admitted to taking Prozac and Klonopin. She was arrested, taken to South Mountain Precinct, and booked for driving under the influence of drugs. She gave a blood sample, had her vehicle towed, and was released later that day. 

On November 17, Sutherland was arrested for yet another DUI in New Mexico. The arrest triggered a warrant for her arrest in Phoenix for violating her probation. Her probation was revoked, then reinstated on December 9, 2015. (Online court records show she was also sentenced to probation, community service, and substance abuse treatment for the New Mexico DUI, which she completed in December 2016.)

As Sutherland began to comply with the terms of her probation, charges from the June 2015 DUI were filed. In September 2016, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charged Sutherland with two counts of aggravated DUI for the June 2015 incident. Sutherland pleaded guilty to one count and on January 10, 2017, was sentenced to four months in prison and one year of supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay a litany of fines and complete drug and alcohol counseling.  

Sutherland in her Navy uniform.

Sutherland in her Navy uniform.Danielle Sutherland

When Sutherland got out of prison in summer 2017, she finally turned her life around. 

“I got out, I was like, ‘I’m 34, this is ridiculous,” Sutherland said. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

So she went to the Veterans Administration and asked for help. She started receiving treatment for her substance abuse issues and underlying trauma, graduated from Phoenix College with an associate’s degree, and began volunteering. 

In October 2017, Sutherland was discharged from probation for the aggravated assault cases. A few months later, she was discharged from the one-year probation from the June 2015 DUI. Sutherland was able to get the assault charges reclassified as a single misdemeanor in June 2018, and got the court to restore the civil rights she had lost as a convicted felon. 

She enrolled in Arizona State University to pursue a degree in community advocacy and social policy and was set to graduate this May with plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy in the fall — plans that seem unlikely to materialize now.

In September 2019, Sutherland learned she was being charged for yet another DUI — one that she had committed four years ago when she was still spiraling out of control. She thought it had been dismissed.

On September 11, 2019, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed two aggravated DUI charges against Sutherland for the October 2015 DUI. Phoenix police records on the incident shared with New Times indicate they had requested that the MCAO file charges against Sutherland back in October 2015. 

Phoenix police resubmitted charges to the county attorney’s office in 2017, after learning Sutherland had now had two prior DUI convictions — one for the January incident settled in veterans court and one for which she had served a four-month sentence. 

“These prior two convictions make this instance of driving under the influence a third offense,” an incident report from Phoenix police states. “Therefore, this case is being resubmitted to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and [Sutherland] will be charged with the following: aggravated driving under the influence [a Class 4 felony].”

The statute of limitations for a felony DUI in Arizona is seven years.

“All these years I had been looking online, because it was hanging over me. I was booked, I was processed, but then I was released, and I never heard anything about it again,” Sutherland said. “I was never arraigned, I was never notified. I pulled my driving record, it wasn’t even on there. To finally hear about it again, after all these years and everything I have done to change my life — it just pulled the rug out from under me.”

Occasionally, when people are charged with a felony DUI but the blood results are not back in time for the court date, the charge is dismissed but can be refiled once the blood results are in. 

A spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office looked into Sutherland’s case and said they are currently reviewing the status of her case and cannot provide additional comments as to why it took so long for charges to be filed, or whether it is typical to wait so long to file charges for DUIs.

On Friday, Sutherland’s case heads to a settlement conference. If she takes a plea deal, she will be sentenced to 10 months in prison. 

Arizona law requires that in cases like Sutherland’s, when a person has been convicted of three or more DUIs — in Arizona or elsewhere — within an 84-month period, they are no longer eligible for probation, pardon, commutation, or suspension of their sentence until serving at least eight months in prison.

For the past two years, bills have been introduced in the Arizona Legislature to allow judges to depart from mandatory minimum sentences in certain cases. 

House Bills 2245 and 2376, introduced and later killed in 2020 and 2019 respectively, would have allowed judges to depart from mandatory prison sentences and instead impose a shorter sentence or probation if the court finds that imposing a mandatory prison sentence “would result in an injustice to the defendant” and that the mandatory prison sentence “is not necessary for the protection of the public.” (The bills excluded crimes involving death or serious physical injury, sex crimes against minors, and crimes that involved a “continuing criminal enterprise.”)

“If you’re gonna put someone away for something they did five years ago, don’t you think you should do a little research into what that person is doing today?” Sutherland said. “I take full accountability for what I did. I’m not blaming anyone else. I’m angry at the statutes that allow this. And I’m angry at the Legislature that two years in a row killed a bill that would allow for judicial discretion.” https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-dui-law-prison-third-woman-charged-years-later-maricopa-11453586

‘Now you’re infected,’ suspect says while coughing in trooper’s face

PUTNAM – “Now you’re infected.”

Those were the words a handcuffed Putnam man uttered as he turned to a state trooper Thursday night and coughed before claiming he had the coronavirus, police said.

The 52-year suspect, identified as James Keith, of 82 Chapman St., had been pulled over after troopers received a report by several witnesses of an ongoing disturbance in an East Putnam parking lot.

As troopers in the area pulled up to the scene, two individuals jumped into a vehicle and fled the scene heading west on Route 44, nearly striking a trooper as they sped away, police said. Troopers, who were able to stop the car near the intersection of Interstate 395, said they learned Chapman had physically assaulted his girlfriend, a passenger in the vehicle.

Police said they observed several indicators leading them to believe Chapman was intoxicated. The man admitted to consuming several alcoholic beverages earlier in the evening and subsequently failed a field sobriety test, police said.

As troopers tried to place Chapman under arrest for second-degree breach of peace and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he turned to a trooper and “aggressively coughed” and stating, “now you’re infected,” adding he had the coronavirus.

Chapman, who is also listed as living at 4 Rawson Ave. Apt. 3 in North Grosvenordale, was transported back to Troop D in Danielson and released on a $5,000 bond.

State police officials said a medical pre-screening for COVID-19 was conducted on Chapman by state Department of Corrections personnel. The screening came back negative. Decontamination measures were taken by all personnel involved, state police said.

The female victim declined medical attention and troopers said they ensured she got home safely.

During his brief appearance Friday in Danielson Superior Court, Judge Jack Fischer issued a protective order on behalf of the alleged victim and continued Chapman’s case until April 20.

When asked outside the courthouse about the incident, Chapman said he was not ill, but understood his coronavirus comments were not correct in the midst of a pandemic.

“But he (the trooper) was being anal,” Chapman said. “I do that at work all the time, coughing and saying ‘corona.’”

The Putnam incident was the second of its type reported in the area on Thursday.

UConn Police said Dr. Cory Edgar, a UConn Health physician and assistant professor in the orthopedic surgery department, intentionally coughed on two other medical employees at the health center. He was issued a misdemeanor breach of peace summons. https://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20200327/now-youre-infected-conn-suspect-says-while-coughing-in-troopers-face

Louisville Police arrest man driving under the influence, domestic violence

Upon contact, the officer immediately smelled an alcohol odor and removed 44-year-old Kevin Bennett from the car.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Metro Police arrested a man for domestic violence and driving under the influence.

According to a news release, an officer was dispatched to Colorado Ave. and Central Ave. on March 26 around 8:40 p.m. on a report of a violent domestic dispute.

When the officer turned on to the street, a 2003 Dodge Durango was seen fleeing from the location in a careless manner after committing an act of domestic violence failing to signal to a car traveling southbound at the intersection.

Upon contact, the officer immediately smelled an alcohol odor and removed 44-year-old Kevin Bennett from the car. Bennett was transported to LMDC and refused any testing for the first hour of contact. 

Bennett reportedly stated to the officer in an excited tone that he began drinking at 10 a.m. because “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” and didn’t have intentions of leaving the house.

Bennett was found guilty of operating a car under the influence in 2006. His license was suspended at the time of the stop and did not have any insurance in the car.

Bennett has been charged with operating a car on a suspended license, failure of non-owned operator to maintain required ins/sec 1st, failure or improper signal, and operating a car under the influence of alcohol 2nd degree. https://www.whas11.com/article/news/crime/lmpd-arrest-man-domestic-violence-dui/417-2c8c6930-f12d-4791-82f9-ef0047ba0e8f

Man in custody after allegedly producing firearm, yelling at neighbor

Spanish Fork police arrested a local man after he allegedly brandished a gun while participating in a verbal altercation with a neighbor.

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, officers responded to reports of a weapons offense at a residence in Spanish Fork.

The reporting party told authorities that he heard his neighbor, later identified as 22-year-old Tyler Victor Steggell, yelling from behind him while he was working in his yard. The complainant said he stood on a bucket to ask his neighbor if he was yelling at him.

Shortly after the conversation began, a verbal altercation started and escalated when Steggell allegedly pulled a small, black gun out of his right pocket and pointed it at his neighbor, asking him “what he was going to do about it,” according to arrest documents.

Authorities arrived to find Steggell had fled the scene in his car. Steggell has a history of attempting to commit “suicide by cop” several times, according to the probable cause affidavit, and officials believed he was a danger to himself and others.

In order to locate him, officers performed a cell phone ping, and he was found to be driving his car. Police pulled Steggell’s vehicle over and took him into custody. Arresting officers reported Steggell smelled of alcohol and exhibited poor balance, according to arrest documents.

After officers read him his Miranda Rights, Steggell allegedly told police he had a gun in his right pocket and pulled it on his neighbor. He also said he had been drinking alcohol that night and had marijuana in the car.

During a search of the vehicle, police discovered a gun matching the description his neighbor gave to police. The gun was unloaded but a loaded magazine was located in the driver’s door.

At the Utah County Jail, a field sobriety test showed he had enough signs to render him unsafe to operate a vehicle and his blood alcohol count tested .175. Steggell consented to a breathalyzer test which showed a .223 BAC.

While speaking with Steggell, he reportedly pulled off his blood-soaked band-aid, that was given to him after a blood draw, and threw it at the officer. The band-aid bounced off of the officer’s arm, according to the probable cause statement.

Steggell is being held at the Utah County Jail under suspicion of third-degree felony aggravated assault, class A misdemeanor threat or use of a dangerous weapon, class B misdemeanor carrying a concealed firearm, class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, class B misdemeanor propelling a bodily substance, class B misdemeanor carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol, and class B misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol. Officials also issued a citation for driving without proof of insurance.

UCSO Courtesy Tyler Victor Steggell
Utah County Sheriff’s Office courtesy photo of 22-year-old Tyler Victor Steggell of Spanish Fork on March 23, 2020. Utah County Sheriff’s Office

El Paso County courts closed to public except for ‘matters of immediate concern’

El Paso County Courthouse
The entrance of the El Paso County Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex on Tejon Street with the reflection of the Pioneers Museum in the background. (Gazette file photo)Carol Lawrence

The El Paso County courthouse is closed to the public through April 10, except for “matters of most immediate concern.”

Fourth Judicial District Judge William Bain issued new restrictions after further guidance from health officials to help stem the spread of COVID-19, according to an order that went into effect Friday.

All trials during the closure period are postponed, except for those involving speedy trial deadlines on or before April 17.

All in-person civil hearings, including trials, are also vacated and will be rescheduled.

Jury summonses with a return date of Friday through March 27 are lifted. Jurors with a summons return date on or after March 30 should monitor the court  website — courts.state.co.us/Courts/County/Index.cfm?County_ID=6  — for information.

Other highlights of the closure:

 Colorado public defender tests positive for COVID-19, others wait for tests

— The Clerk’s Office will be open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for legal holidays. During operating hours, the clerk’s office will only accept paper filings related to certain public safety matters, including petitions for restraining orders and emergency custody changes. All other filings should be mailed to courthouse or filed electronically through the state filing system.

— All in-person domestic relations hearings are canceled, except emergency motions to restrict parenting time and motions for abduction-prevention measures.

— Most out-of-custody defendants are prohibited from entering the courthouse during closure, except for certain crimes and certain hearings. In-person appearances are required for those charged with domestic violence, unlawful sexual contact, animal cruelty, driving under the influence and careless driving resulting in injury or death. https://gazette.com/news/el-paso-county-courts-closed-to-public-except-for-matters/article_3ce0ee14-6ad9-11ea-9bcb-8774ec94aee6.html

Man sentenced for stealing ambulance from hospital

FLINT, MI — A 33-year-old man has been sentenced to 6 months of jail time for stealing an ambulance from outside a Flint hospital.

Raymond E. Kibby, 33, was sentenced Monday, March 23 by Genesee Circuit Judge Celeste D. Bell to the jail time, with 41 days credit on charges including assault with a dangerous weapon, third-degree fleeing and eluding police, and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated — second offense.

He reached a plea deal in December 2019 that dropped unlawful driving away of an automobile, malicious destruction of fire or police property, and unlawful driving away of an automobile charges.

The charges stemmed from a Nov. 26, 2019 incident which began at McLaren Flint off South Ballenger Highway.

That’s where Kibby stole a STAT EMS ambulance.

The ambulance had just parked following a call and a patient was being delivered to the emergency room shortly after midnight at McLaren Flint off South Ballenger Highway.

Joseph R. Karlichek, Chief Operating Officer for STAT EMS, previously said the ambulance was in the bay outside the emergency room doors at the time of the incident.

The vehicle was unlocked with the keys in the ignition at the time of the theft due to an urgent situation with a patient when paramedics arrived, Karlichek noted.

The ambulance personnel noticed the vehicle was missing when the exited the hospital.

The location of the ambulance was confirmed and 911 was called. No injuries were reported to STAT EMS staff.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Kibby was at the hospital receiving treatment for heroin withdrawal. He’d been dropped off by his mom after it was noticed he was going through the withdrawals.

Flint Police Chief Phil Hart previously said at least one city unit and several other law enforcement agencies including the Genesee County Park Rangers were involved in the pursuit.

Leyton said it’s “fortunate nobody was hurt” because video from inside the ambulance shows Kibby not stopping at red lights at Court Street and Miller Road.

The ambulance eventually crashed into a tree and hit a police vehicle in the area of Alvord Avenue and Fenton Road.

When Kibby spoke with officers, Leyton said, “He complained to the police that the ambulance wouldn’t go fast enough” because it only reached speeds between 35-40 miles per hour.

He also told police he’d stolen the ambulance to go and buy heroin on the city’s south side, Leyton said.

Kibby will be transported to a 90-day substance use disorder program at New Paths following the jail sentence, per the judge’s sentence.