“It’s always personal,” I screamed as the prosecutor and the probation officer stared at me. Alone in the judge’s chambers, we sat there are 7:30 am on a Saturday morning. Snow on the ground, no suit or tie, just 4 men screaming over the fate of this 18-year-old kid. Would he go to prison, would he go to jail, would he be sent home to be with his family? I pleaded that my client did not know her age. The judge yelled, “Michigan does not recognize the mistake of age Mr. Amadeo.” I told them that the sex was consensual and that the alleged victim lied about her age, the judge said, “Bill, enough with the Rape by Fraud argument, this is not Illinois!!!” I argued how he passed a state polygraph, he gave 2 private polygraphs, the girl was lying, we cannot destroy this kid’s life.
The judge wanted to put him in prison for 87 months, the probation officer recommended 20 years, violating the Tanner-Max, the prosecutor looked at me and asked to speak for a moment. We sat alone in this small room in a courthouse that was built was nearly 100 years old, and we argued back and forth. The prosecutor wanted to become a judge and needed to get as many people as possible on the Sex Registry, and in reality, he had all of the evidence to win at trial, and the only thing standing in is way was me. They need that if I go to war, anything can happen. Maybe, just maybe I can get the jury to nullify the law, perhaps I can attack the complaining witness and prove her inconsistencies and possibly, just maybe, I cannot. I only had one card left to play, if I could show that this kid has mental deficiency, then perhaps I could work around the probation officer, maybe I could convince the judge and maybe, I could get on the same page as the prosecutor so that he could save face by granting a dismissal despite having enough evidence to convict. I motioned for an evaluation to show that my client was not criminally responsible and was not competent to stand trial. The judge looked at me and said, Bill, if this is frivolous, your career is over.” I nodded my head, and I walked out of court, and I remembered what 2 people that I have respected had told me. Pete Winter said, “Sometimes we cannot change the facts.” Scott Grabel told me, “Some cases are about risk assessment, some cases are about guilt and innocence.” I thought about what had been taught to me, and I went to work. This was not about me, this was about a kid’s life, his future, his world. I pushed for competency tests based upon my research, and now, I had to wait for yet another party, a psychologist to tell me whether or not I was correct.
In Michigan, there are 2 types of competency tests: The first is a motion for lack of criminal responsibility. This means that the defendant did not understand what was happening and that they should not be charged because they could not form the Mens Rea to commit the crime.