Articles Posted in Legal

The Detroit Free Press has reported Michigan the first coronavirus case at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. This brings the number of state prisoners to 24 along with seven Michigan Department of Corrections employees that have tested positive for the disease. What this means to the future of criminal justice in our state is up for debate. To gain insight into the matter, we spoke to three of the top criminal lawyers in our state.index2-300x129

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a firm that is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. Grabel provided commentary when he said, “The biggest concern is that we don’t know where the end will be. Michigan Senator Erika Geiss told the press that Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility had failed women, and the coronavirus intersects with underlying issues. The biggest issue is that inmates cannot stay 6 feet apart from one another. This is a crisis that is growing worse by the day. The criminal justice community needs to come together right now.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Amadeo is known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County and provided commentary when he said, “Resolutions, am I the only one that sees the need for this right now? I have been in touch with 18 prosecutors today to try and resolve matters. Four of them answered, and most are in a wait and see mode. I have absolutely no issue going to trial, but this is a time when we need to look outside of the box. I’ll leave the ball in the prosecutor’s court right now.”

Did you know that up until now, if you were charged with a misdemeanor it was not required that the prosecutor provide you with the police report used to charge you? Previously, it was left to the prosecutor whether they wanted to share items of discovery like a police report with you or your attorney. In most places, getting a police report was as simple as following the rules specified by each prosecutor’s office when making a request. In most places, prosecutors were not hiding the ball when it came to handing over items of discovery in misdemeanor cases. Unfortunately, there are still some places where defendants are not receiving the proper access to police reports and other discovery because it wasn’t required of them to provide this information until now. The Michigan Supreme Court made this decision with a 5-2 vote in favor of the change. iStock_000013860209_Full-2-300x200

What Is Discovery?

Discovery in a criminal case generally includes any police reports, surveillance videos or witness statements made in relation to an alleged crime. It is basically the written or recorded information used to charge someone with a crime. The sharing of this information is essential to the fairness of criminal procedure. Information gets recorded anytime an officer interviews a witness or the defendant themselves in relation to an alleged crime. The combination of all of these interviews and other investigations end up in a series of documents that end up becoming the entirety of a police report, which is then submitted to a prosecutor for the authorization of criminal charges.

It is fairly common knowledge that if you have a court date, you are expected to show up on time for that date. In a criminal case, you are personally required to be present for most all hearings. In a civil case, the requirement to be personally present is typically relaxed, and attorneys routinely appear on their client’s behalf for many court proceedings. If any party is unable to make it to court, then the court usually allows for absences due to good reasons like sickness or other unavoidable issues. In the present case, Oakland County Ciruit Court Judge Leo Bowman decided that contagious pneumonia was not reason enough for a man in his court to miss a scheduled court date on a civil matter. iStock_000013714975_Double-2-300x217

Original Case Details

Howard Baum ended up in Bowman’s court over a money situation dispute where Baum lent over $1 million to some extended family and the money has not since been paid back to Baum’s satisfaction. This case has taken several years, and Baum has never been late, nor does he have any criminal record whatsoever. On this date Baum was scheduled to appear in front of Bowman for a hearing related to this case. Baum had been battling flu-like symptoms for months and on this day ended up at Lake Urgent Care where he was diagnosed with pneumonia that was contagious to others. He was advised by doctors to avoid contact with others until completion of a five-day course of antibiotics. The report ended with the doctor stating that “he is at risk for spreading his illness.”

While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken over the news, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been active to help protect inmates and those that may be incarcerated during this period. On Wednesday, the ACLU wrote to the Justice Department and the Bureau of prisons to request the release of the most vulnerable inmates — those who are elderly or with chronic health conditions — and to slow prison admissions and reduce overcrowded conditions. To see how this initiative will affect the state of Michigan, we obtained commentary from three of the top criminal lawyers in our state. index2-300x129

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has amassed a team that is known as the top criminal defense firm in Michigan. When asked about the ACLU initiative, Grabel said, “Prosecutors and defense lawyers are at odds of this issue. The consensus of the defense counsel is that the vulnerable need to be released from the Michigan Department of Corrections. Not all prosecutors share that sentiment and argue that the protection of the community is still at their forefront. This is becoming a time of great controversy in the legal profession.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top trial lawyers across the state of Michigan and expressed concern for inmates. Amadeo said, “I’m concerned about the elderly. I’m concerned about those with mental health issues that are not being treated properly. COVID-19 has changed the way we look at things. If the Michigan Department of Corrections does not want overcrowding and sickness to spread, they need to follow the mandate from the ACLU. Prison time should not be the top priority of prosecutors right now.”

With the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), criminal justice advocates are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to release as many elderly, disabled, and medically frail inmates from Illinois prisons as possible before they may be affected by COVID-19. While the governor has been non-responsive to those activists at this point, there is cause for concern. To see how this initiative may change the state of Michigan, we spoke to several of the top criminal lawyers in our state. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. Grabel provided commentary when he stated, “By the end of 2019 there were nearly 7,800 state prisoners in Illinois making up close to 20% of the state prison population. This is a large number of inmates that have special needs. In many ways, this becomes a socioeconomic argument for why there should be less incarceration during this time of crisis. With Illinois and Michigan having similar views on criminal justice reform, there could be s trickle-down effect on the Michigan Department of Corrections.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top trial lawyers in Michigan and was quoted as saying, “Numbers don’t lie but are often hard to come by. The Illinois Department of Corrections doesn’t keep a tab on how many disabled, medically frail inmates it holds, but activists have said it could be hundreds in need. Illinois is a state with more resources than Michigan, which causes a tremendous amount of concern for inmates in need, When negotiating with elderly defendants, we have to look at the cost to house these inmates and balance that against the threat to society. This is not the time to press for incarceration. Teamwork is required to achieve the needs of justice for both victims and the incarcerated.”

The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has cause mass hysteria and panic worldwide. Schools have been cancelled, sports leagues have suspended play, and an increasing number of people have caught the coronavirus in the United States. As of now there have been just over 1,600 cases of coronavirus nationwide, which have resulted in 41 deaths. The virus saw its first outbreak in Wuhan, China and has been spreading worldwide at an alarming pace. Italy, Spain and other countries are going into complete lockdowns to try to curb the spread of coronavirus. The state of Michigan has seen less than 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, but this number is expected to increase. The risk of disease spreading is always higher in places where people are in close quarters like jails and prisons. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Challenges Facing Michigan’s Jails

Jail inmates don’t have the option to just head outside when they want or go pick up some hand sanitizer from their local supermarket. They also aren’t able to control who they are around and be able to distance themselves in the best possible way to remain healthy. Some of the measures necessary to prevent the spread of disease are simply impossible within the walls of our Michigan jails and prisons. Oakland County Jail alone houses anywhere from 1,200 to 1,300 inmates on any given day. Most jails also don’t have N-95 masks to protect staff members from disease either.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a profound effect on the criminal justice system across the country. A recent article by Samantha Melamed and Mike Newall of The Philadelphia Inquirer explained the concern of managing jail crowding and how the virus is causing concerns in the city.

To gain insight into how the Philadelphia mandate could affect the state of Michigan, we spoke to three of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state. The comments from these attorneys explained where the state of Michigan stands on this issue. index2-300x129

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Grabel and Associates are known as the top criminal defense firm in our state and practice in every county across Michigan. Grabel provided commentary when he stated, “The article in the Philadelphia Inquirer hits very close to home. As someone that grew up in South Jersey and now lives and practice in the capital of Michigan, we see a lot of similarity in our criminal justice systems. The issue of overcrowding in our jails and the Michigan Department of Corrections is a tug of war between protecting inmates and society. This is a time for fair resolutions across the board. Our firm has not stopped working during this crisis, and we will all need to think outside of the box to protect our clients.”

On March 18, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No 2020-2. The order will limit activities and assemblages in courthouses across the state of Michigan. To gain insight on how this will affect criminal law cases across our state, we sat down with three of the top criminal lawyers in Michigan. Grabel04a-2-300x146

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates. Grabel’s firm is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan and has a strong presence in the federal court system. When asked about the Administrative Order, Grabel said, “This is a time when safety will come first. The order speaks of video technology that will be out in place to preserve the constitutional rights of defendants in these situations. The tug of war will be which trials will go first when our state becomes more stable. Governor Whitmer has her hands full right now with protecting our state, and trials are not the priority, but for those that are incarcerated, the issue becomes far more complex. We all need to work together to find solutions.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo has one of the largest criminal dockets in the state and covers more than ten counties. When asked about the new order, Amadeo stated, “We need consistency, and I’m glad that our Supreme Court is taking the initiative, but we still need more. We can’t have one set of schedules in Macomb County, a different set in Washtenaw and a third in Wayne. For lawyers that are going to trial in multiple counties, we all need to be on the same page, and I would hope that prosecutors and defense lawyers could work as a team during these trying times. We are in the unchartered territory; teamwork is essential if we are to be stable again.”

The world has seen unprecedented action and activity as the number of coronavirus COVID-19 cases continues to increase worldwide. It is apparent that the coronavirus spreads fairly easily between people when they are in close contact whether the person transmitting the disease has symptoms or not. There have been just over 1,600 cases of coronavirus nationwide, which have resulted in 41 deaths. The virus saw its first outbreak in Wuhan, China and has been spreading worldwide at an alarming pace. Italy, Spain and other countries are going into complete lockdowns to try to curb the spread of coronavirus. The state of Michigan has seen less than 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, but this number is expected to increase. People with confirmed cases have been asked to self-quarantine (isolate) themselves from other people for at least 14 days to avoid transmitting the disease to other people. index2-300x129

What Happens If You Are Ordered To Quarantine?

If you test positive for corona virus COVID-19, the only sure-fire way to not spread the disease is to isolate yourself from others while dealing with the sickness. It is recommended that people quarantine for at least 14 days if they test positive for the virus or feel symptoms related to the virus. Common symptoms include a high fever, a dry cough, and a respiratory infection that have proven to be fatal to some people. Countries in Europe like Italy and Spain have forced quarantine on basically everyone in the country except for trips to the grocery store and pharmacy. Most shops, restaurants, bars etc. have been shuttered during this pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused mass hysteria and panic worldwide. The hardest hit areas as of this writing have been in Europe and China. The effects of the virus have now hit the United States in the forms of travel bans, event size restrictions, and general disruption of every day American life as we know it. Schools have been cancelled, sports leagues have suspended play, and an increasing number of people have caught the coronavirus in the United States. As of now there have been just over 1,600 cases of coronavirus nationwide, which have resulted in 41 deaths. The virus saw its first outbreak in Wuhan, China and has been spreading worldwide at an alarming pace. Italy, Spain and other countries are going into complete lockdowns to try to curb the spread of coronavirus. The state of Michigan has seen less than 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, but this number is expected to increase. While many people have been sent home to work remotely, others face the possibility of losing their jobs due to the coronavirus. Courtroom matters are typically handled in person, so the effects of the coronavirus can be significant for Michigan courts. index2-300x129

Coronavirus Affecting Michigan Courts

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack issued a memo on March 11, 2020 to all state trial courts recommending adjournments. The aim of this memo is to adjourn all jury trials, whether they were civil or criminal unless there was some special reason in a specific case such as a defendant being held in custody for an extended amount of time awaiting trial. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently declared a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. This recommendation to adjourn all trial is meant to apply for the duration of the State of Emergency until the situation gets under better control.

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