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Legal Services

//Legal Services
Legal Services 2019-02-14T11:51:41+00:00

Student Legal Services

Student Legal Services is a student government sponsored program that provides FREE legal services for all eligible Michigan State University students through a private law firm consisting of attorneys, legal interns, and support staff. Our office provides students with advice and representation regarding a wide range of legal issues including criminal misdemeanors, civil infractions, landlord-tenant matters, traffic offenses, and much more. Student Legal Services in sponsored by the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) and the Council of Graduate Students (COGS).

Who We Are

The attorneys at Jeffries and Associates, PLLC, have over 40 years of experience representing students through Student Legal Services.  Brian Jeffries, David Meyers, and Adam Cozort have demonstrated the skills and understanding necessary to represent the unique needs of students at Michigan State University.

Profiles

Brian has served Student Legal Services as its lead attorney for the past 35 years. Brian received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. While in law school, Brian worked as an Administrative Assistant to a Michigan State Senator and with the Michigan Department of Attorney General in the Office of the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council.

After law school, Brian opened his own law office as well as signed on with ASMSU and COGS to begin his career at Student Legal Services. Brian focused his private practice on representing the legal needs of various business entities including for-profit and nonprofit organizations and developed an emphasis in zoning and land use law.  Brian currently maintains his practice with Student Legal Services through the law firm of Jeffries and  Associates, PLLC.  Brian has very much enjoyed devoting his practice to helping students, as well as assisting the Associated Students of Michigan State University and the Council of Graduates Students with the unique challenges and issues they present.

Brian is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Ingham County Bar Association, and has served as an Assemblyperson of the Representative Assembly of the State Bar of Michigan, as well as a member of the State Bar of Michigan District E Character and Fitness Committee. Brian is licensed and admitted to practice law in all State courts, the U. S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, and the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In addition to practicing law, Brian has also held elective office for 27 years where he served as an Ingham County Commissioner, a Lansing Community College Board of Trustee Member, and a Lansing City Council Member. Brian has also served the Lansing community and region by volunteering on numerous local boards and commissions including the Lansing Housing Commission, Capital Area Community Services Board of Directors, Capital Regional International Airport Authority, Tri-County Office on Aging, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Lansing Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, and was appointed Co-Chairperson of Lansing Mayor Schor’s Transition Team. Other affiliations include the ACLU, NAACP (Silver Life), Trout Unlimited, and St. Casimir Catholic parish.

In his spare time, Brian likes to wade the PM and Manistee rivers to fish for trout, salmon, and steelhead; cook and bake pies; work on his home; and, most of all, Brian enjoys living life with his wife, Ellen.

Dave is the newest member of the Student Legal Services team and brings over 15 years of experience both in public and private legal practice.  Dave has worked extensively with students and is devoted to serving their legal needs and those of ASMSU and COGS at Michigan State University.  Dave prides himself on listening to and advising his clients to achieve a full understanding of their legal rights, risks, and options.

Dave is licensed and admitted to practice in all Michigan courts and is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Ingham County Bar Association. Dave is licensed to practice law in all State courts, the U. S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

Dave received his bachelor’s degree from Loyola University-Chicago and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Michigan State University College of Law. While in law school, Dave was a member of the inaugural student group within the Chance at Childhood clinic; a Criminal Trial Advocacy participant; and worked extensively within the Eaton County Family and Probate Court.  Shortly after law school, Dave became a legal clerk for Cass County circuit court judge, the Honorable Susan Dobrich, a strong role model who he was able to observe and assist in her development of that area’s first Family and Drug Treatment Court.

Dave moved on to be an associate with a private law firm, where he served as legal counsel to private clients as well as municipal counsel and prosecutor for numerous cities and townships. This experience provided him with extensive time in the courthouse, at board meetings, and working with governing bodies and committees.  Dave then opened and successfully operated his own law office, working across Michigan in many different State and Federal courts on both civil and criminal matters. In Dave’s private law practice, he worked with both private and government clients, allowing him to build his knowledge and expertise in the courtroom.

In addition to practicing law, Dave has served on numerous boards and committees, most notably as a member of the inaugural treatment team and inaugural administrative board of the Ingham County Veterans’ Treatment Court founded by the Honorable David Jordon of 54-B district court in East Lansing.  Dave most enjoys any time with his wife Rebecca and his children, Ford and Finley.  Dave is continually looking to positively develop himself and support those around him, actively volunteering for organizations and programs such as Meals on Wheels and Special Olympics.

David is excited to work with the Michigan State University community and to use his experience as a part of Jeffries and Associates, PLLC, in its mission to help students and the organizations of ASMSU and COGS, with the unique challenges and issues they present through Student Legal Services.

Adam grew up in Oceana, West Virginia, and graduated from Mountain State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.  Adam obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School with much of his classwork and internships focused on client advocacy and communication.

During law school, Adam interned at the Sixty Plus Estate Planning Clinic where he performed client intakes, prepared estate planning documents, and supervised fellow students as a senior student manager. Adam also interned with Student Legal Services at Michigan State University. This internship focused primarily on client interaction and involved assisting attorneys in the representation of students. He conducted intake interviews, prepared research briefs, and assisted with pretrials.

Upon graduation, Adam joined a law firm practicing estate planning and, subsequently, accepted a  position in the Detroit area reviewing and analyzing contracts.  When an opportunity to rejoin Student Legal Services was presented, the time spent interning there and the desire to help students made it an easy decision to return. Adam has served in this position for the past 4 years and has enjoyed the opportunity to work with students and ASMSU and COGS on a wide variety of issues and concerns.

Adam is licensed and admitted to practice law in all State courts and is a member of the Ingham County Bar Association. In his free time, Adam is an avid fan of MSU sports, golf, and spending time with his wife Emily and their corgi Annabelle.

Breanna obtained her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University.   After graduation, she immediately began her legal carrier by obtaining employment as a Family Law Legal Assistant at a major law firm in Southeast Michigan.  While there, Breanna assisted with divorce and family law matters with a focus on litigation.  In 2018, she returned to campus and began work as a Legal Assistant with Student Legal Services through the law firm of Jeffries and Associates, PLLC, and is thrilled to assist students with many different legal issues and concerns.

Breanna is a Notary Public and was the only active Legal Assistant member of the Macomb County region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan in 2017-18.  Today, she remains active with the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and is also a member of the Ingham County Bar Association.  In her free time, Breanna enjoys working on “do it yourself” projects at home, attending work-out classes, and hiking with her husband Vincent and their dog Chandler.

 Danielle Jones (Fall Semester)

Danielle is in her second year at the Michigan State University College of Law. Prior to law school, Danielle earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminology with a minor in Psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. At Michigan State, Danielle is a member of the Women’s Law Caucus and serves as its Events Coordinator. She is the Law School Liaison to the Council of Graduate Students where she is a member of its Executive Board and also serves as the Graduate Liaison to the Student Bar Association. Her internships have focused on client advocacy and litigation, examining the effects of criminal proceedings on victims. Her study interests include domestic violence, victim services, and the effect of the criminal justice system on young adults.

Tyler Silvestri

Tyler is a 2L at Michigan State University College of Law. After graduation, he intends to become a public defender. When not in the office, Tyler hosts “On the Banks,” a podcast about MSU-related news, and writes on the same subject at onthebanksmsu.com. He also serves as Vice Chair of the University Committee on Academic Governance. Tyler obtained his bachelor’s degree in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy from Michigan State University in 2017, and he spent one year as the Assistant Director of ASMSU’s Student Rights Advocates.

Services

Effective January 1, 2018, the MIP law was amended to provide that the first offense of a minor purchasing or attempting to purchase, consuming or attempting to consume, possessing or attempting to possess or having any bodily alcohol content is a civil infraction and no longer a misdemeanor. This means a judgment for a first offense MIP no longer results in a criminal conviction.

Sanctions for a conviction to a first offense MIP are up to a $100 fine (plus court costs), substance abuse treatment and community service. There is no action taken against the driver’s license, however a notice of the infraction is sent to the Secretary of State and posted on the driver’s record.

Sanctions for a conviction to a second offense MIP is a misdemeanor (criminal conviction) and is punishable by up to a $200 fine (plus court costs), substance abuse treatment, community service, however a deferral is possible. A notice of the conviction is sent to the Secretary of State, and posted on the driver’s record.  The driver’s license is suspended for 90 days, and a restricted license is possible after 30 days. If there is a probation violation, the Defendant could be ordered to serve up to 30 days in jail.

The sanctions for a conviction to a third offense MIP is a misdemeanor (criminal conviction) and is punishable by up to a $500 fine (plus court costs), substance abuse treatment, community service, however a deferral is possible. The driver’s license is suspended for 1 year, and a restricted license possible after 60 days. If there is a probation violation, the Defendant could be ordered to serve up to 60 days in jail.

Although the violation for a first offense MIP is now a civil infraction, there remains serious consequences regarding your driver’s license due to the notification to the Secretary of State. It may be possible, in some instances, to avoid the notification requirement by negotiating with the prosecuting entities to amend the MIP civil infraction into a different civil infraction which does not involve reporting anything to the Secretary of State. We strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services as soon as you receive an MIP ticket to review all your options before making any final decisions.

Operating while intoxicated is a very serious offense that carries many serious and expensive ramifications with it.  An OWI is issued when a person is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or above.  A person charged with OWI should contact Student Legal Services to schedule an appointment for consultation and representation.  The statutory fines and punishments are listed below, but it should be noted that the fine here does not represent the total cost of an OWI. Court costs will also need to be factored in.

  • 6 points on your drivers license
  • Up to 180 day license suspension with the possibility of a restricted license after 30 days
  • Maximum jail time of 93 days
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Possible vehicle ignition interlock

Operating while visibly impaired is another alcohol related offense that ties closely to OWI.  An OWI will be issued when a person is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC less than .08 if the officer determines the person is driving with less ability than a normal driver. The possible statutory fines and punishments are listed below, but it should be noted that the fine here does not represent the total cost of an OWVI. Court costs will also need to be factored in.

  • $300 maximum fine
  • 4 points on your license
  • 90 day license restriction
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service

DWLS occurs when a person is operating a motor vehicle with a license that has been suspended for any reason.  This is a misdemeanor.  Commonly the suspension has resulted from failure to pay fines from other traffic offenses, acquiring too many points on your license, or as a result of another traffic offense that requires a suspension.  If you receive a DWLS, we always recommend that you try to take care of the cause of the suspension if possible.  The possible fines and punishments for DWLS are listed below.

Driving While License Suspended (1st offense, 257.904)

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 Fine
  • Additional period of license suspension

Driving While License Suspended (2nd offense, 257.904)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000
  • Additional period of license suspension

Disorderly conduct is an offense that encompasses many prohibited acts.  Common violations are listed below.  The penalties and fines will vary based on if the charge is an East Lansing ordinance (26-52), a Michigan State University ordinance (15.00), or State of Michigan law (750.167).  A complete listing of prohibited acts can be found in the code sections listed.

Common disorderly conduct offenses include:

  • Being intoxicated in a public place and endangering directly the safety of another person or property.
  • Urinate, defecate or spit on any street, sidewalk, alley, park, parkway, parking lot or structure, public carrier or upon any public property.
  • Assault, obstruct, resist, hinder, or oppose any member of the police force, any peace officer, or firefighter in the discharge of his/her duties as such.
  • Provide a police officer or liquor establishment with any false, forged, or misleading verbal or written identification.

Assault is a charge stemming from the unlawful contact with another person.  This charge is most commonly seen in connection with a fight or altercation.  There are varying degrees of assault, and while all the ones listed here are misdemeanors, there are felony charges that can arise from an assault.  The statutory fines and punishments can be found below.
Assault (750.81, East Lansing Ordinance 26-63)

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 Fine

Aggravated Assault or Assault with a Weapon (750.81a)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000 Fine

Domestic Violence (1st offense, 750.81)

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 Fine

Domestic Violence (2nd Offense, 750.81)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000 Fine

It should be noted that a third offense for domestic violence is a felony punishable by up to $5000 fine and not more than 5 years in prison.

Immigration Law is a specialized area of Federal Law. Any international students charged with a crime could trigger investigation consequences and should contact Student Legal Services to schedule an appointment.

Civil infractions are civil wrongs that do not rise to the level of a misdemeanor. Students must respond to the tickets promptly and should schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services immediately upon receiving the citation.

Upon receiving a Civil Infraction you must respond within the time indicated on the ticket, usually 10 days. You have 3 options:

Admit Responsibility – By pleading responsible, you are agreeing to accept a fine and corresponding points. If it is your first ticket, check with the Secretary of State to see if you are eligible for the Basic Driver Improvement Program. This program allows you to keep the points of your record.

Admit Responsibility with an Explanation – Under this option you can submit a written explanation which the judge may take into consideration to reduce fines. You still get the points. 54-B offers a process called Online Case Review by which you can submit your argument online and get a judge’s opinion without going to court. Take note that the time to respond is less than 10 days.

Deny Responsibility – Use this option if you wish to fight the ticket.  By denying responsibility, you have the option of an informal or formal hearing. With the informal hearing, the officer goes first because they have the burden of proof. The burden, however, is just the preponderance of the evidence, more likely than not. Then you respond. Attorneys are not allowed to appear. If you lose, you may appeal to a formal hearing.  With a formal hearing, both sides may be represented by an attorney and the rules of evidence apply. If you lose you may be responsible for higher costs.

Driver Responsibility fees are fines charged to drivers who have been ticketed for drunk driving, caused injury or death in an accident, or accumulated at least seven points on their licenses from traffic citations and were passed in 2003 to fill a budget hole. On October 1, 2018, the Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee will no longer be in effect and the Michigan Department of Treasury will cease collection on all Driver Responsibility Fees. This will wipe out the $637 million owed by nearly 350,000 drivers in the state. Individuals currently paying the fees will be responsible for their fees until September 30th. If you are currently paying fees, you do not need to take any action to get them eliminated: The Secretary of State and Department of Treasury will work together to eliminate fees and cease collections. This only applies to Driver Responsibility Fees and not to any other unpaid fees relating to underlying driving infractions.

After October 1st, you can request a reinstatement of your license. If you apply for reinstatement before December 31, 2018, the Secretary of State will waive the $125 reinstatement fee. However, if there are any other reinstatement fees from failure to appear in court or for driving with a suspended license, you will have to pay those fees prior to reinstatement. If your license has been suspended or expired for four or more years, you will have to take a road and written tests before a new license can be issued. No refunds will be issued for the Driver Responsibility Fees that have already been paid and no fees will be assessed after October 1st. There are two help lines that have been set up for citizens to contact: Contact the Secretary of State at 888-767-6424 for help with how to get your license reinstated and contact the Treasury Department at 517-636-5240 to learn more about the Driver Responsibility Fees.

Lanlord/Tenant

We strongly encourage perspective tenants to have Student Legal Services go over the lease before tenants sign. We can help the tenants avoid signing a lease with illegal provisions, situations, or hidden consumer traps. We can also recommend areas of negotiation.

We assist numerous students every year on how to manage the process of wrongfully withheld security deposits. See the attached publication, “Security Deposits.”

The City of East Lansing is very aggressive about enforcing ordinances that prohibit living in an attic or basement and over occupancy. Also, there may be repair issues that need to be addressed.

Evictions are governed by statute, and are strictly interpreted. Timing can be crucial, so students need to schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services as soon as they receive the legal documents.

Sometimes subleases are unavoidable. We can help you do it right.

Council of Graduated Students – Skype Services

The Council of Graduate Students and Student Legal Services are happy to announce that Student Legal Services will now be offering free legal advice via Skype interviews for MSU graduate and professional students who attend classes away from the main campus in East Lansing.  This is a result of feedback received by Student Legal Services during visits to different MSUCOM sites located around the state.  In order to make sure that Student Legal Services can provide the highest level of service, we ask that you to do the following in order to make a Skype appointment:

  1. Contact Student Legal Services at 517-353-3716 between the hours of 8-12 and 1-5 Monday through Friday to set up an appointment.
  2. Please leave a Skype ID so that you can be contacted on the day of your appointment.
  3. All necessary documents (leases, letters, contracts, traffic citations, etc.) should be scanned and emailed (miller@asmsu.msu.edu) or faxed (517-432-1999) to our office at least one day in advance of your appointment.
  4. Please ensure that you are in a quiet area for your interview so that you can hear and be heard easily. Remember, if you chose to use a public location for this interview, your conversation may be heard by others.
  5. Appointments will begin promptly at the scheduled time, so make sure you are logged on and available on Skype when the interview begins.

We look forward to this new way of extending free legal services to the graduate and professional students of Michigan State University.

Speaking Engagements and Presentations

Student Legal Services also conducts presentations to groups with special interests.  We recommend that you call well in advance of the event with an idea of topic to be addressed, number of expected attendees, date and location. Common themes include:

  • Know Your Rights – How to respond and what rights do you have when a police officer stops you on the street, or when you are pulled over in your car, or when they are at your front door are common themes that are discussed during these events.
  • Landlord/Tenant – areas covered are things to look for in choosing an apartment, roommates and lease. Also addressed are security deposit issues and local ordinances.

Conflicts of Interest

Student Legal Services is prohibited from representing students in any situation that appears to present a conflict of interest. For example, in a tenant versus tenant dispute we cannot speak to both sides. In that example, we would speak to the first party to come in in an effort to serve the most students possible. When possible, we would try to refer the second party to alternative representation.

Confidentiality

Each attorney is sworn to preserve the confidence of a client. Attorney-Client Privilege provides our clients with the assurance of absolute confidentiality. Any information provided to Student Legal Services will not be disclosed to parents, the University, police agencies, or any other individual or party without the client’s express written consent, or as required by law. It is essential that every client disclose the facts of his/her case to the attorney in order to receive the best possible advice and representation. Confidentiality waivers are available upon request.

Contact Us

You must schedule an appointment in order to use Student Legal Services. Appointments will be scheduled during regular hours by either calling 517-353-3716 or visiting our office. You will be required to provide a valid student ID to verify eligibility.

Student Legal Services is located on the campus of Michigan State University at 556 E. Circle Drive, Rom 329, of the Student Services Building. Our office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Student Legal Services is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and all Michigan State University holidays.

Our office does not accept walk-ins or same day appointments and no advice will be given over the phone or via e-mail.

You are required to bring to your appointment any documentation that relates to your case. This includes all court notices and documents, police reports, tickets, lease, pictures, videos, e-mails, agreements and any other information that you think may help us assist you with your case.

Do not wait until the last minute to contact Student Legal Services.

Student Rights Advocates

If you need assistance in a University related case, please contact the Student Rights Advocates’ office at (517) 884-1253 or dsrals@asmsu.msu.edu. For information regarding the SRA services, please visit their webpage here www.asmsu.msu.edu/services/student-rights-advocates/.

Disclaimer

This website is not meant to give legal advice or create an attorney client relationship. It is intended to provide students with general information only and should not be considered as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.  If you need legal advice or representation, contact student legal services immediately to schedule an appointment.