Daily Briefs

Plea deal likely in alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — One of six men accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is returning to court next week for a possible plea deal with prosecutors.

Ty Garbin is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing Wednesday, according to a notice filed by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker.

Messages seeking comment from Garbin’s attorneys weren’t immediately returned Thursday. Prosecutors declined to comment.

The FBI in October said it broke up a plot to kidnap Whitmer by anti-government extremists upset over her coronavirus restrictions. Six people were charged in federal court in Grand Rapids while eight others were charged in state court with aiding the alleged scheme.

Attorney Mark Satawa has said Garbin had no intention to carry out a kidnapping, no matter what he might have said in recorded or online conversations. A “big talk” defense had emerged last fall as a strategy for the six men.

“Saying things like, ‘I hate the governor, the governor is tyrannical’ ... is not illegal, even if you’re holding a gun and running around the woods when you do it,” Satawa said in October.

The other defendants are Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. A trial has been scheduled for March 23.


Federal court rules 1992 term limits amendment to State Constitution was lawful

A federal court sided with the offices of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel when it dismissed a lawsuit last Wednesday that challenged the current status of Michigan’s term limits under a constitutional amendment passed by voters nearly 30 years ago.

The challenge to the 1992 amendment was filed by 10 former Democratic and Republican state legislators in Kowall et al v Benson, 19-985 (WD Mich). But Judge Janet T. Neff, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, dismissed the case, in part, because the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims were barred in light of a previous court decision – or were otherwise without merit. 

Neff also found plaintiffs’ state constitutional challenges to the petition and ballot language in the 1992 amendment meritless.

“Michigan voters took action three decades ago to change our state constitution, and that amendment has now held up twice in a court of law,” Nessel said. “I appreciate the court’s ruling and review of the case law on this matter, and while the legal challenges have failed, the Michigan Constitution – and term limits for our lawmakers – remain something voters can revisit and amend through lawful means as they deem appropriate.”

The amendments to the Michigan Constitution referenced in the case were approved by the people in 1992 and have been on the books for almost 30 years. They were previously upheld as constitutional by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.


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