Articles Posted in Legal

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:

In 1998 the recidivism rate in Michigan was 45.7%, meaning that of those released from prison, this percentage of offenders were reincarcerated within three years. It is extremely common for those who are released to return to a life of crime or continue criminal behavior, however it seems things are turning around for the state according to recent reports which reveal the rate has dropped to 29.8%. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Why the substantial drop? In years past, most individuals imprisoned for years or even decades after being convicted of a serious crime had little hope of becoming productive members of society upon release due to a lack of skills and education. For the most part, prisoners were simply left behind bars until their time was served, released to a world of uncertainty regarding their futures. Considering how quickly things change in terms of technology, many offenders who are released are completely unfamiliar with the way the world operates today. If you were put in prison for 10 or 20 years, how would you react once released? What would you do, and how would you support yourself financially? Until someone has been there, it is impossible to imagine the fear and uncertainty offenders experience when “set free.”

Heidi Washington, Department of Corrections Director in Michigan said in reports the drop in the recidivism rate is a clear indicator that the MDOC is meeting its goal in terms of helping ensure prisoners can become law-abiding citizens and productive members of society once released by preparing them through education and job training. A number of initiatives have been launched in recent years, including last year’s opening of the Vocational Village at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, a site that provides those incarcerated an opportunity to develop skills in carpentry, electrical trades, welding, CNC machining, plumbing, and automotive technology.

Recently there have been questions among both advocates and lawmakers regarding the number of people serving time in prison for crimes they allegedly committed and the opportunities available for those who are incarcerated to reform their lives and become productive members of society upon their release in the Lansing area. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

On March 1st, designated national Day of Empathy, panel discussions and workgroups were part of the agenda concerning reforming Michigan’s criminal justice and incarceration laws as advocates and lawmakers gathered in an effort for change. As the first Day of Empathy, this was the day that across the nation efforts were focused on criminal justice reform and how society must humanize and empathize with all those including family members, communities, and our society as a whole are affected by it.

An ex-convict with an event sponsor said he hoped this “catalyzing” event would work to get more people involved in criminal justice reform in Michigan. Criminal defense attorneys in the Lansing and surrounding areas are all too familiar with what happens on a daily basis in the criminal court system. Essentially, there is a huge lack of focus on rehabilitation for those found guilty of crimes, and an intense desire to simply put people behind bars for years, decades, even life. The result is not only unfair for individuals who may or may not have committed less serious offenses, but results in a severely overcrowded prison situation.

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