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Ask Trooper Rob: Is column ‘unlawful practice of law?’

Published 10:54pm Thursday, February 9, 2012

Q: How does your article “Ask Trooper Rob” not constitute unlawful practice of law? — Shane from Northville.

A: Shane, this is a very good question. I guess I would ask in what manner am I practicing law. As a trooper with the Michigan State Police, I believe I am qualified to answer general law questions in written form as I would if I was stopped on the street, in a restaurant or in a school. In my first article of “Ask Trooper Rob,” I made it clear to the readers that I am not giving any legal opinions or advice. If the question concerns traffic, then I refer to the Motor Vehicle Code (MVC 257). If it concerns criminal law, I refer to the Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL 750). If there is a question I can’t find, then I have other legal resources, such as Department of Natural Resources (last week’s question).

I do not charge for these questions or answers. My counterparts across the state with articles similar are just taking that one question and informing the public of the answer.

As a community service trooper, we have had media relations training and this is something that was stressed to us — don’t give opinions, only the facts. This is what I have based my articles on.

Our colonel reads these articles and no legal issue has ever been brought up. Thank you for your concern and I hope I answered your question.

Trooper was killed by electric streetcar

Tpr. Howard Funk enlisted in the Michigan State Police on March 24, 1926. At age 24, he was assigned to a post the department operated on the Clinton River at Mount Clemens for a few years during Prohibition.

Less than four months later, on July 8, 1926, Trooper Funk was killed on patrol when he turned his motorcycle into the path of an electric interurban streetcar that he failed to see. Trooper Funk is buried in Detroit and was the sixth Michigan State Police member to die in the line of duty.

Email your questions to trooperrob53@yahoo.com.

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  • medrolet

    The reason that it is not the unauthorized practice of law is NOT that it is free or that other cops do it.

    The State Bar of Michigan which enforces the UPL makes a distinction between providing legal information, which is not the practice of law, and providing legal advice which is.http://www.michbar.org/professional/pdfs/UPLfacts.pdf

    A non-lawyer can provide general information about laws, court procedures, etc. They cannot tell you what to do or what to say in Court or other situations to get the best result.

    Legal advice involves applying the correct law to an individual set of facts and helping an individual choose course of action based on predicted outcomes or desired results. Basically, it isn’t the practice of law unless the person answers the “what should I do” question.

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