Articles Posted in Legal

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” While the words of the civil rights activist bring with them a lot of power, his message can sometimes be forgotten and in courtrooms in Detroit, Michigan, the voice of Dr. King is far too often silenced. Today, we are going to explore the infamous zip code known as “The 48205” and explain how the criminal justice system has shown that Lady Justice is sometimes selectively blind. neighborhood-300x200

“The 48205” is a zip code that for many years was known as the most dangerous area in the country. Driving through the area leaves one with the vision of little teddy bears and flowers on the sides of the street to display the mourning of innocence lost and when we examine the stats, the numbers are staggering.

When we study violent crime, we look at the subject from a scale of 1 to 100. One being low crime with 100 being the highest. When a zip code has a crime rate of 65-70, it is known as a highly dangerous area. When determining the violent crime forecast, studies take 4 criminal activities into their equation: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. When we consider those crimes, it is important to note the the zip code has actually improved their criminal activity within the last 3 years but even with that improvement, the violent crime study places the area with a scaled score of 92 which is a number that is clothed in terror. While the citizens of the area live in danger, this fear is also spread to those that are trying to raise families and find success in the area. The criminal defendant coming from the 48205 zip code faces an uphill battle where guilt is presumed before innocence. To delve deeper into this study, we sat down and spoke to three criminal lawyers in the state of Michigan that weighed in on the subject.

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One of the biggest obstacles in the state of Michigan to advising a client to take a plea in a criminal case is the Presentence Investigation Report which has affectionately become known as the “PSI”. The “PSI” can be a friend or an enemy of the criminal defendant but many lawyers seem to forget to educate their clients on this crucial issue. Today, we will delve into an understanding of a “PSI” and explain why the attorney’s job is not done oncriminal-justice-attorney-300x225ce the agreement has been reached.

The “PSI” Defined

A “PSI” is a legal term referring to the investigation into the history of a person convicted of a crime before sentencing to determine if there are extenuating circumstances which should ameliorate the sentence or a history of criminal behavior to increase the harshness of the sentence. The “PSI” has been said to fulfill a number of purposes, including serving as a charging document and exhibit proving criminal conduct, and is said to be akin to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation. While the understanding seems to be clear, the application can present a great deal of issues if an attorney does not prepare their client for what stands after an agreement has been reached. To dig deeper into the issue, we sat down for several lawyers that have excelled in client communications on the matter. Let’s review what these attorneys have had to say on the issue.

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The law firm of Grabel and Associates won another landmark case when prosecutors dismissed sexual assault charges against a former Michigan State Police trooper Brian Alexander after the Michigan Supreme Court ordered a new trial on the matter. shutterstock_33503131-300x200

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates led the defense team in a battle that lasted over 2 years. Grabel stated, “While it took a long time, I’m glad the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office did the right thing and dismissed the charges. We had to go to the Michigan Supreme Court to fight for Mr. Alexander and there is no doubt in my mind that the man is 100% innocent.”

Brian Alexander was 33 years of age when he was convicted on four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct after a 2015 trial in Ingham County Circuit Court. A judge later vacated that decision and the case then went through the Michigan Appellate Court system. Alexander was awaiting a second trial when the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charges on Sept. 25.

One topic that is often at the center of law school lectures but is not an issue that garners a great deal of publicity is the mistrial. The mistrial is one of the most difficult motions that any litigator will ever face should they decide to go that route. The key to a successful mistrial motion is the concept of prejudice but to display that a party has been disadvantaged is easier said than done. Case law, litigators, and the general public are often left with a great deal of confusion when addressing the issue. Our goal today will be to provide insight on the topic along with commentary from leaders in the field. Let’s begin by discussing what the black letter law states and then delve into the shade of gray which is where the issue lives.

We start this discussion by reviewing case law on the topic. In the case of Wolfe v. Peery, we find that: “A trial court should grant a mistrial only when a party’s chances of receiving a fair trial have been irreparably damaged, and we use the deferential abuse of discretion standard to review trial court ruling denying a mistrial.” While the case law says one thing, the application of the motion is an entirely different process. Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates is the leader in criminal defense in the state of Michigan. Grabel and other leaders in the field provide commentary on the issue.law and justice

Grabel stated, “Many attorneys like the idea of bringing a motion for a mistrial but do not understand intricate their motion must be. In fact, if you are banking on winning the motion you are putting your client in a precarious situation. Case law indicates that a mistrial is only granted if the court is apprised of prejudice that it deems to be incurable. In the simplest of terms, the court is reluctant to grant such a motion. Our motion writers have found a great deal of success, but that is because they look at the issue globally which is an unusual but effective process.”

As the name implies, the exclusionary rule works to exclude or “leave out” a piece of evidence in a criminal or civil trial. Essentially, this rule is used in courts across the U.S. to keep people’s constitutional rights from being abused by police or other government agents. Anyone who has watched CSI or other crime dramas on television has probably heard of the exclusionary rule, however most of these shows don’t properly depict how this rule can impact the outcome in real world cases. iStock_000034696960_XXXLarge-2-300x200

Essentially, evidence that is gathered by the prosecution in an unlawful manner should be excluded from trial. When evidence is obtained in an illegal manner it may violate the constitutional rights of the defendant; if so, it cannot be used as evidence against the defendant in an effort to secure a conviction. Examples of this are when police, law enforcement agencies, or other government agencies collect evidence in an unlawful search or seizure, or other conduct that violates the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Suppose you are pulled over while driving down the road and police have no probable cause or reasonable suspicion for doing so. You weren’t speeding, driving in an erratic manner, or violating any traffic rules. All of your headlights, tail lights, and brake lights are working and your tags haven’t expired. There was absolutely no reason for police to pull you over, however in doing so they find a bag of marijuana or other illegal substance in the passenger seat. Can the bag of marijuana or drugs be used as evidence to prove the crime of drug possession? Under the exclusionary rule, it shouldn’t be admissible as evidence.

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In a decision that has shocked many in the legal community across the country, The United States Supreme Court made a controversial ruling on June 26th stating that evidence found by police officers after illegal stops may be used in court if the officers conducted their searches after learning that the defendants had outstanding arrest warrants. A-Student’s-Guide-to-the-Law-of-the-Land-and-The-Supreme-Court-Pic-300x199

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority in the 5-to-3 decision stated that such searches do not violate the Fourth Amendment when the warrant is valid and unconnected to the conduct prompted by the stop. While Thomas is no stranger to controversy, this decision may have a profound effect on the state of Michigan and the criminal law landscape.

The case, Utah v. Strieff came about from government surveillance of a home in South Salt Lake based on an anonymous tip of “narcotics activity” there. Officer Douglas Fackrell stopped the defendant after he left the house based on what the state later conceded were insufficient grounds making the stop unlawful (Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373). The officer ran a check and found out that the defendant had a warrant for a minor traffic violation and during a search incident to an arrest, the officer found a baggie containing methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia.

Over the past several months Grabel & Associates has added several attorneys to our criminal defense legal team. We are proud to have expanded our team, bringing outstanding lawyers with expertise in specific areas of criminal law on board and essentially offering even more legal support, guidance, and representation to our clients. Grabel

Timothy Doman joined our team this year to pursue his passion for criminal law after working as a pre-hearing attorney with the Michigan Court of Appeals. His capability in out-of-the-box thinking and experience make Mr. Doman a great asset to our law firm. As a 2013 graduate of Wayne State University Law School, Timothy focuses on many areas of criminal law including DUI (DWI) and domestic violence.

Shawn Danette Glaza obtained her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School where she made the Dean’s list four terms in a row and received the prestigious book award in pre-trial skills class. Working in the criminal defense arena for more than eight years, Shawn’s focus in criminal law includes misdemeanor offenses, driver’s license restoration, and DUI offenses.

Everyone knows that the face of America is changing rapidly in terms of race and ethnicity. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center almost 59 million immigrants have come to the U.S. over the past 50 years, the majority of those immigrants from Asia and Latin America. As an attorney, whether in criminal or personal injury law, family or immigration law, or any other practice area having the ability to speak Spanish or even Chinese can be hugely beneficial. shutterstock_1360528-300x220

Another survey taken among 200 attorneys and commissioned by Robert Half Legal found that more than 40% of those lawyers recognize a need for more attorneys who are bilingual when hiring officers. For the most part, these lawyers felt a Spanish-speaking attorney would be a benefit to their firms.

Why is speaking a second language or having an attorney on staff who is bilingual so important? There are lots of reasons, not the least of which is the ability to communicate clearly with the client and earn his or her trust. Law firms with bilingual attorneys on staff who speak Spanish, Chinese, or other languages in addition to English have an edge in regards to:

While the April 30 application deadline to sit for the bar exam has come and gone, if you did apply for the July 25-26 Michigan bar exam you may be a bit stressed out and anxious considering it’s just a few weeks away – completely normal feelings, by the way. What’s the best way to prepare, and are there any myths that you shouldn’t believe? shutterstock_1360528-300x220

First, a few tips before you actually dig in and begin studying for the bar exam – preparation.

Create a routine and study schedule. Where and when you study can be dictated by a lot of things depending on your career, whether you have a family or children, your work hours, etc. What’s critical is that you figure out a routine that empowers you to make the most out of your study time. Some receive a schedule with the course for bar prep, but many can’t adhere and have to create their own schedules. If you can study in a quiet place with few distractions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., great. If not, maybe 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. split shift will work. Figure out what works best for YOU in your situation, and how you can gain the most from your study time.

When one is arrested in Michigan, they are often read their Miranda rights but sometimes, prior to an arrest, an officer may not read those rights and the defendant may incrimination themselves. This article represents a checklist on the concept that is one’s Miranda rights. This is what we call a “Miranda Checklist”. iStock_000023802012_XXXLarge-2-300x200

“When Does Miranda Apply?”

Miranda Warnings apply when one is in custodial interrogation. This means two things:

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