In the wake of his alma mater LSU winning a national championship, video surfaced of Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) gently tapping a police officer on the posterior. The acts of Beckham led to two potential arrest warrants. The first proposed warrant was for sexual assault. The second proposed warrant was for misdemeanor assault and battery. The sports world turned from a historic victory for LSU to wondering if OBJ would actually be prosecuted for this act. While an action like this may seem insignificant, if OBJ was charged and convicted, he may have been suspended from the NFL and had his life altered. To gain insight into this story we spoke to leaders in the criminal law community to gain their insight.

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Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a law firm that is know as the top criminal defense team across the state of Michigan. When asked for commentary, Grabel said, “Sometimes in our profession people can get carried away. Beckham was in a locker room celebrating with young kids from his school. He clearly had no intent to hurt anybody. To charge him with a crime, let alone a sexual offense would’ve been a miscarriage of justice.”

An expert witness is someone who is able to testify about some sort of specialized field that is important in a trial. An expert witness typically didn’t actually “witness” anything. Most witnesses that testify in court testify to some sort of first-hand personal knowledge regarding the case at hand. An expert witness almost assuredly was not anywhere near the incident when it took place, nor has any first-hand knowledge of the case outside of what evidence was presented to him or her. According to Rule 702 in the in both the Michigan and Federal Rules, an expert witness is someone who can use their expert knowledge in a particular scientific, technical, or other specialized area to help determine what the facts are in a specific case. iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

How Is Someone Deemed An Expert Witness?

In the state of Michigan, in order to become an expert witness in a case. A court must first determine the need for an expert and then agree that the field of expertise is a recognized one. An expert is subject to being questioned by both attorneys and the judge regarding their expertise on a particular subject before they are deemed an expert witness for the case at hand. An expert witness typically has a high level of formal education on a particular subject and is also usually a published author regarding the same subject. Once an expert is allowed to testify, they typically give their opinions on specific areas of evidence in a particular case. An expert witness will draw their own opinions and conclusions from applying reliable principles or methods to the case at hand. Expert witnesses are extremely valuable to both prosecution and defense.

The Michigan State Police suspended its contract with the vendor who issues and calibrates their Datamaster machines. A Datamaster is the machine you blow into at the police station if you have been arrested for a drunk driving. The Datamaster is the considered the most accurate breath test and is the only breath test that is admissible in court against you. The roadside preliminary breath test (PBT) is only used to give an officer the right to arrest you if the PBT detects intoxication. The PBT is not admissible in court, only the Datamaster or the results of a blood draw are. The state police affirmed that their Datamaster vendor has had “performance-related issues” and, as such, will no longer be working with this vendor. As a result, all 203 Datamasters that are used across the state have been pulled from use. For the time being, the Michigan State Police has put the responsibility on themselves to properly calibrate these machines before they go back into use. They have also recommended police agencies to use blood draws instead of Datamasters to establish the intoxication element of a drunk driving charge. shutterstock_94350760-300x199

Who Is Responsible?

The state police said in a statement that they are aggressively investigating the vendor for potential fraud committed by some of its contract employees. The vendor, Intoximeters, out of St. Louis, MO, has three contract employees who handle the calibration and certification of all 203 Datamasters statewide. These are the people in question according to the Michigan State Police. They believe that some certification records appear to be falsified. Because of this, an investigation has commenced with an eye towards forgery of public documents charges.

An Introduction The State Of Michigan’s Roadside Drug Testing Program:

The State of Michigan launched a roadside drug testing pilot program back in 2017. Since marijuana being legalized for medical and now recreational use, police statewide have been looking for a test to be alongside the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). The roadside drug testing program started out only in 5 counties; Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw County. Across the 12 different police agencies that are active between these counties, there are 31 “Drug Recognition Experts.” A Drug Recognition Expert is an officer who has completed 72 hours of classroom study, along with 40 hours of field study before they are certified by their respective police departments. These Drug Recognition Experts were each given a saliva drug testing device to use if they suspect driving under the influence of drugs. If there was a saliva test that tested positive for the presence of drugs, then that sample would be sent to state lab for confirmation. iStock_000054888764_XXXLarge-2-300x200

What Were The Initial Results Of The Program?

One crime that has been on the rise in the state of Michigan is Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC). The “Me Too Movement” and other court personnel such as Victim’s Rights Advocates have led those with the claim of being raped to come forward years after the fact. The impact that this is having on the Michigan Criminal Justice System is startling. To learn more about the reporting of CSC’s we turned to several of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan to gain their insight. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a law firm which is comprised of the top criminal lawyers in our state. When asked about the impact of the new charges, Grabel stated, “The goal of the “Me Too Movement” is to give victims a voice and for that I commend it. The issue that we are starting to see if that allegations come forward decades after the fact with no physical evidence. We are in a situation where anybody can be accused of anything and that is a difficult place for the defendant to be. As criminal defense lawyers, we need to be on top of our game at all times.”

William Amadeo is a Partner at McManus and Amadeo and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo has developed a reputation as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County and provided commentary when he said, “In Washtenaw, I believe the prosecutor’s office charges 43% of the time (last study). With that stated, we are seeing a lot of delayed reporting cases across the state and many counties outside of Washtenaw are charging at a much greater percentage. When there is no physical evidence the case becomes a one on one credibility contest and the job of defense counsel is not simply to argue the facts but to center on the personality of the defendant and their positive attributes.”

If you have ever stepped foot in a Michigan courthouse, you have undoubtedly encountered the “no cell phone” rule. Michigan courts have typically only allowed court personnel and attorneys to take their cell phones, tablets etc. inside courthouses past the metal detectors that you usually first encounter. Some courts have small lockers that you can use to lock up your phones, while other courts simply tell you to leave your phone in the car. Leaving your phone in the car is a problem if you don’t have a car or didn’t drive to court. People who take public transportation, bike, or Uber to court are often left wondering where they can put their phone since they aren’t allowed to take them inside. Some people even resort to hiding their devices in bushes outside of courthouses. As of the beginning of 2020, that has all changed. On January 8th, the Michigan Supreme Court amended the Michigan court rule (MCR 8.115) to allow cell phones, tablets, laptops, and any other similar items inside Michigan courthouses. It allowed people to have the ability to research, communicate, and take notes electronically. This is a major change from the past. mEHdjKG

What are the permitted uses of cell phones inside courthouses?

You may now use your cell phone or other device to send and receive text messages, take notes, and access email and the internet while inside courthouses and courtrooms. You are now able to also take photos of court documents within the court clerk’s office so long as you don’t leave any mark or impression on the original document. This is a big departure from how things were done in the past where members of the public would have to pay as much as $1 per page for copies.

What Is A Juvenile Lifer?

A juvenile lifer is a person under the age of 17 who was tried and convicted as an adult for a serious crime in which they were sentenced to a mandatory life term in prison. The United States is the only country in the world which allows for children to be put away for life without the possibility of parole. Here in the state of Michigan, there are more such cases than anywhere else in the country except for the state of Pennsylvania. There have been just over 350 cases of juvenile’s sentenced to mandatory life without the chance of parole in the state of Michigan. There were around 2,300 juvenile lifer cases across the United States as a whole. 9602687-300x199

The Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding Mandatory Life Terms For Juveniles:

In a development that has sent shock waves across the state of Michigan, the MSP has investigated potential fraud by the Datamaster DMT breathalyzer device. The state of Michigan has told law enforcement to stop using those machines in drunk driving cases because of discrepancies in maintenance and certification for vendor intoximeters. To gain insight into this issue, we spoke to leaders in the criminal law community. shutterstock_69162454-199x300

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a firm that is known as the top defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about the issue, Grabel stated, “This will create a floodgate of appeals. Our phones have been ringing off the wall with people wanting to investigate old plea deals. This is the type of thing that not only hurts the defendant but can also compromise the judicial economy.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate at Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County and provided insight when he said, “I’ve reached out to a couple of prosecutors on this matter as Pittsfield Township is one of the police agencies that have been affected. Where this issue stands are still up in the air, but a lot of this will depend upon the degree of error. We will have to study the difference between the BAC taken from the datamaster and blood draws. The reality is that those charged with a super drunk (0.17) may not have a great appeal depending upon their plea, but those with a traditional OUI may have a fantastic opportunity to fight an issue. As for cases that went to trial, that is going to be very interesting because evidence may be tainted.”

An alcohol interlock device is quite simply a breathalyzer that is connected to your car. You blow into the interlock device and as long as you are sober then you are able to start your car. If the interlock device detects alcohol in your breath, then it will not allow you to start your car and will send out a notification of your failed breath test. One can be required to install an interlock device in their car by one of two ways: 1) If your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your DUI arrest was at .17 or higher, commonly known as super drunk, or 2) If your license was revoked due to drunk driving convictions. In either situation, the interlock device must stay installed in your vehicle for a minimum of one year. In this article we examine how an interlock works, things to watch out for, and what it is like to live with an interlock installed in your vehicle. iStock_000016894637_XXXLarge-2-300x200

Where is an interlock installed exactly and how does it work?

An interlock device is installed somewhere on your dash or center console. These devices can be fairly discreet but are obviously still visible within the interior of your vehicle. The device measures your breath sample by blowing into a mouthpiece attached to the device which will then measure your BAC. If a passing breath sample is not given, then the interlock device will serve as a disruption between your car starter and ignition. Some interlock devices also come equipped with a camera which will take a picture of the user blowing into the device to prove their identity. If the device detects alcohol and prevents the user from starting the car, the car is then usually “frozen” out for a period of time before the interlock will allow for another test to start the car. Note: most interlock companies do not install interlock devices on motorcycles due to the dangers involved.

If you have gotten to this point it has undoubtedly been a tough road. In order to apply for your driver’s license to be restored it means that it was taken away at one point. Most typically it was taken away due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs multiple times. After all the time, money, and effort spent on staying sober and staying out of jail, you are finally ready to petition to get your driver’s license back. While on its face applying to get your license back seems easy enough, it is the nuances of the process which many times makes the determination if you get your license back, or if you have to wait another year before applying again. We will examine the basic requirements for the Secretary of State to hear your driver’s license restoration case and will note some things to watch out for and why having an attorney can be extremely beneficial. 8123271_s-300x199

Am I even eligible to apply for my driver’s license back?

Typically, you are eligible when at least one year has passed since your license was revoked. Your first step should be a trip to the Secretary of State to obtain an official copy of your driver’s record. That way we can help determine when you are eligible to apply for your license back.

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