Van Buren County Man’s Theft Conviction Overturned by Michigan Court of Appeals

In 2012, Brian Lee Snyder was convicted for larceny in a building stemming from an October 2011 incident in which he allegedly stole a gold watch and silver pieces from an antique store in Mattawan, according to a news article at Mlive.com. In April of 2012, Snyder was sentenced to 330 days in the Van Buren County Jail according to Mike Bedford, Van Buren County Prosecutor.

Snyder was sentenced in April, and appealed his conviction in May on the grounds that the jury was allowed to hear evidence regarding a prior conviction, evidence which was inadmissible. The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that Van Buren County Circuit Judge Paul E. Hamre allowed the jury to hear inadmissible evidence. The court of appeals’ judges ruled that the judge abused his discretion, saying “We conclude that the erroneous admission of the defendant’s prior conviction undermined the reliability of the verdict, and therefore that defendant has met his burden to show that the trial court’s error was prejudicial.”

The appeals court requested that Hamre comply with the Michigan Rules of Evidence by conducting an analysis regarding the prior conviction and its impact on the conviction, however Hamre did not meet the request.

Van Buren County Prosecutor Mike Bedford felt that the appeal had merit, and that Hamre did make an error; he did not file a brief in response to a letter from the Court of Appeals. Bedford went on to say that he was not surprised that the appeals court reversed the conviction, and that he did not disagree with the ruling.

Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know that errors are made in the legal process, just as this case indicates. When evidence is allowed which is inadmissible, it may be grounds to have a convicted overturned.


If you have been sentenced in a way that you feel is harsh or unfair, or wrongly convicted of a criminal offense, contact an experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer now. It is vital that you choose an attorney with a thorough understanding of how the appeals process works, and hands-on experience.