Michigan Governor Defanged By Protesters, Lawsuit, Defiant Cops, Defiant Prosecutors

In Coronavirus Lockdown Rebellion, Governor Whitmer by Jeffrey Lee PierceLeave a Comment

Excerpted From Lansing State Journal: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is grappling with a lawsuit from the Republican-led Legislature, the sequel of a protest whose armed attendees drew the national gaze, and threats over her executive orders.

But she also faces some Michigan law enforcement agencies saying they won’t enforce the orders in response to the novel coronavirus.

Amid hubbub surrounding an Owosso barber working in defiance of her order, Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole issued a letter Monday saying that while the judicial branch weighed Whitmer’s choice to extend a state of emergency without the Legislature’s OK, his officers won’t actively enforce the governor’s mandates.

“I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of the Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders,” he said

And he’s not alone. Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy told the Livingston Press & Argus that his office has “basically decided to not do any enforcement,” even as a gym opened in direct defiance this month.

Four northern Michigan sheriffs’ offices issued a joint press release in mid-April — before the state of emergency supported by both Whitmer and the Legislature expired — saying Whitmer had overstepped her authority and they would not strictly enforce the orders.

Many law enforcement agencies have said they are taking an informational approach to the executive order.

In Clinton County, north of the capitol, Sheriff Larry Jerue said no one has been charged with violating the orders and his deputies are taking an “educate and inform” approach.

When someone contends they are exempt from the executive orders, that information is sent directly to the Attorney General’s Office, although the sheriff’s office has never heard back from AG officials.

The executive orders are “almost unenforceable, quite frankly,” he said. “We’re asking for voluntary compliance. People should use good common sense. We strongly support social distancing, good hygiene and face coverings.”

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said his office has not sent any order violations to prosecutors related to businesses, and deputies are using an “ask, educate and inform” approach.

Some departments are reluctant to issue citations directly because of the executive branch and Legislature’s legal battle — set for oral arguments Friday. So some departments are passing reports to prosecutors instead of issuing citations on the street.

“Ultimately, that liability can come back on them, so they’re just seeking that one extra step,” Stevenson said.

LPD had sent 11 reports to the prosecutor’s office for review as of May 5, Merritt said. Three cases advanced to requesting warrants on charges of violating executive orders, but all three were denied, Ingham County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mike Cheltenham said.

The difficulty for prosecutors and police alike is the vagueness of the orders themselves, she said — a concern that was raised by police and businesses early on.

Statutes usually have more clarity of language, and there’s been confusion about requirements such as mask use, she said. In addition, the frequency of orders changing poses a problem, too.

“These orders lack clarity and they lack specificity, so what you’re asking police officers and prosecutors to do is enforce something that isn’t clear,” Cooper said.

Many law enforcement agencies have said they are taking an informational approach to the executive order.

In Clinton County, north of the capitol, Sheriff Larry Jerue said no one has been charged with violating the orders and his deputies are taking an “educate and inform” approach.

When someone contends they are exempt from the executive orders, that information is sent directly to the Attorney General’s Office, although the sheriff’s office has never heard back from AG officials.

The executive orders are “almost unenforceable, quite frankly,” he said. “We’re asking for voluntary compliance. People should use good common sense. We strongly support social distancing, good hygiene and face coverings.”

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said his office has not sent any order violations to prosecutors related to businesses, and deputies are using an “ask, educate and inform” approach. Read the whole thing