Royal Oak Defense Attorney
Having recently dealt with a Suicide by Cop (obviously unsuccessful) this cannot come swift enough. The Berkley and Royal Oak police were woefully ill-prepared to deal with my client. The SWAT team arrived and immediately knew what they were dealing with. They deployed a non-lethal team response. Training needs to be extended to the police agencies. The “Victim Impact” statement at sentencing spoke volumes. The commander spoke of his fear and downplayed the illness of my client. A client who was known to their department, had 8 involuntary commits in 2 years, including one-two weeks before the incident.
We ended up with Guilty but mentally ill. I was very on the fence on that outcome because I truly believe my client would not have been found sane by an IME But I also felt it was tortuous for this man to have sat in a cell for almost a year. So we took the outcome that removed 14 of the 16 charges, the remainder exposing him to very little incarceration if he violated the delayed sentence, and got him home. Folks I cannot emphasize enough how much we have to educate the prosecution and the bench on mentally ill defendants So many think we are just looking to excuse behavior or avoid punishment.
Felony Non-Support Charges
Once again, a felony non support case goes down. The government seems to see these cases as strict liability. The Michigan Supreme Court has carved out an exception called legal impossibility. The government filed a Motion to try to preclude me taking before the jury, my client’s life circumstances. NO NO NO. The case law and now standard jury instruction do not support the government’s archaic position. Once my response to the Motion was filed, the Assistant Attorney General informed me that that were dismissing the case.
In both of cases, where the case was torpedoed, both dads were working. One lived in Appalachia and the recession just eliminated jobs. He got back on his feet and has been paying for over a year. Thousands in arrears, but still paying.
In today’s case, client has been paying since April 2017 Including a balloon payment of 5k and 13.5k and has regular income withholding . The legal impossibility defense has real legs. It can also apply to clients who are not paying but have extraordinary life circumstances Many lawyers do not understand it and simply plead their clients to felonies These convictions cause a driver’s license to get suspended and obvious impact on future employment.
I am not the right lawyer to attempt to get your child support lowered. However, if you are charged with felony non support, contact me. I understand the defense of this felony and can help.
Firearms and Drug Charges
Walking out of Oakland County Circuit Court, on March 24, 2020 after getting my client released on a personal bond.
Scenario Defendant was charged with a firearms and drug case. She has another fleeing and eluding matter. She was finally sentenced on that case in January after almost 11 months in jail. Credit for time served and probation. She finally makes bond on the remaining case on February 14th. We have a trial date on March 2 at 830 Her ride falls through and she ends up on the bus. Mind you, she has never taken the bus from her home in Detroit to Oakland Circuit in Pontiac. Court takes the bench at 851. Issues Bench Warrant. She arrives at 911. Now mind you, many courts would recall the warrant. Nope remanded without bond. Pretrial set for March 17th. Canceled due to COVID 19.
I filed an Emergency Motion for Pretrial release on March 18th. Arguing that the Supreme Court and our Circuit issued Emergency Orders, which among other things, spoke to the release of pretrial detainees. I had drafted most of my motion, when I received some model pleadings from the ACLU, via the State Appellate Defender office and added a few key lines Court denies claiming no emergency and it could be heard on 4.28.20 at the next PT hearing.
I had solicited the ACLU for help to perfect an expedited appeal. They agreed to take the case. I was co-counsel with Phil Major. Lots of legwork. We worked on the pleadings and brief. Got it filed Friday by 4:30pm (electronic filing) and me serving the Prosecutor by 4:50pm (a few basic speed laws may have been broken) They filed an appellate brief on Monday. Court of Appeals, late yesterday reversed the non emergency ruling and stated she should be released.
Court did not issue and Order yesterday. We had to appear in court today. Me, the judge, the prosecutor, a clerk and some deputies. My client was on polycom.
She goes home tonight and does not have to sit in fear. It’s what we do…
Another jailed client gets out. My Client had an extradition warrant in Tennessee for some kind of identity theft. It is from 2016. His bond was 500k. He posted a bond for his offense in Michigan. Because of the pending case, the prosecutor moved for an adjournment of the extradition case. Leaving my client in jail until May 4th. Remember my client paid his bond. There appears to be a conflict in statutes One permitting release and one allowing detention when there is a pending case I argued that the one allowing a waiver of extradition should prevail. Also the extradition warrant is for a relatively minor felony and there has been an inmate in the jail that tested positive.
After that I called down to the extradition unit in Tennessee no answer yesterday and today is a state holiday for the commemoration of MLK’s assassination I was connected to a voicemail at the extradition office I tried the Public Defender’s Office and no one answered. By the grace of the Creator, someone answered today. Wheels were put into motion Credit also goes to Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Todd Schmitz, for fielding calls. His office had also be doing some efforts. He jumped on a conference call with me and the Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee. With that my client is going home.
We have to take the extra effort. My dad taught me that no is just another way around to yes I am reminded of the folks out there that are giving of themselves without pay. All of my emergency efforts are without pay. They were all indigent. A client’s freedom is greater than that, I feel vindicated.
Two victories are worthy of noting here. On Thursday, the nightmare ended for my mentally ill client. I was his third lawyer and immediately recognized how significant his mental health issues were. 8 hospitalizations (some included botched suicide attempts) in a 2 yr period, including one 6 weeks before his incident, and an 8-day placement upon arrest My case was high profile. My client had a standoff with the Royal Oak and Berkley police threatening them with an unloaded shotgun, begging to die The police did not know the gun was unloaded. The SWAT team knew what they were dealing with and deployed a non-lethal intervention to disable my client.
Representing the mentally ill has become a specialty of mine over the years. Remarkably the forensic report found my client sane at the time because he was able to have a deliberate conversation. The examiner admitted he came to the conclusion that he was not supplied with all the hospital reports when making the conclusion of being sane at the time A big NO-NO. This case had factual (reviewing the discovery I am not sure he did all the acts they claimed. This case would have been great to try particularly getting the emotion-fear and anger-into the story and how it impacted their narrative) and legal (I was not buying the sanity conclusion and was ready to go after it with an independent examiner)
I was able to persuade my specially assigned prosecutor on the case. She took it to her administration. My client had multiple felony firearm charges (mandatory 2 yrs in person) We worked out a delayed sentence with a No Contest but mentally ill plea. In eleven months, the bulk of the felony charges will be gone. He will have 4 additional years of probation With continued MH and substance abuse treatment. Society frowns upon substance abuse and I get that But the truly mentally ill abuse them because they do not always get the right meds to attack their MH issues. A call today from my client’s mom with profuse thanks tells me this was the right outcome I pray he maintains his treatment.
The second case was a termination of parental rights My client had and has mental health issues During a breakdown, she, unfortunately, dropped her toddler causes a broken bone in the face. DHHS has a strict policy to terminate rights when there is an injury on this level. I refused to budge In the interim, we fought for visitation and made a judge demand. We prevailed I worked with my client to make her case right. My client addressed her mental illness further. She visited her son frequently. She got a low paying job and bought things for him (clothing, diapers, toys, etc.) Without the resources of DHHS (no services offered), my client paid for parenting classes on her own. Termination is two-part in Michigan. The first is statutory grounds. My position was simply because there was an injury, that does not meet the grounds in and of itself. The Court had to look at the circumstances. My client had mental illness in the past and addressed it The illness that had gotten her kid into care, arose rapidly. Second, the Court has to look at the best interests. My client with what she had done with her child (there was extreme bonding with all the visitations) and herself. I was going to win on best interest. The DHHS and their lawyer tried to get me to back down and at least plea to statutory grounds No way I was told I was unreasonable Those who know me, know that I do not just law down simply because the government asks me to. I rep my clients zealously. So after a year of this case, the government finally rescinded the term language On Tuesday, the date set for trial, my client pled no contest to the amended petition and was given a Parent Agency Agreement with the goal of reunification My client will sail through that PAA
Two families are going to have a brighter holiday now
I am grateful.