Articles Posted in Legal

Have you ever taken your computer to Best Buy to have work done by The Geek Squad? If so, let’s hope that you had nothing incriminating on your computer because the Cyber Working Group for the FBI may have access to your information. hand-over-keyboard-1377963-m

The prosecution of Mark Rettenmaier, a doctor from California came to light because he took his laptop to a local Best Buy. Best Buy then sent Dr. Rettenmaier’s computer to the Kentucky Geek Squad repair facility. It was then learned that the Geek Squad employee called the FBI’s Louisville field office to share the allegedly illegal material. We are left to wonder if one’s Fourth Amendment Rights are violated in this process. To gain insight into how this issue affects the Michigan criminal justice system, we spoke to several of the top criminal lawyers in our state.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a law firm that is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked for commentary, Grabel stated, “The issue we have to review is whether a defendant loses their expectation of privacy when they hand their computer over to a third party. There has been documentation that payments have been made to confidential Geek Squad informants. If this is the case, there is a concern for constitutional violations.”

One issue that is at the center of controversy in our criminal justice system is bond reform. A New York Daily News article written by Graham Rayman about a drug trafficking ring being released without bail captured the attention of Google. The article focused on a New York state law makes nonviolent drug trafficking is not on the offenses that a judge can impose bail. While New York has taken the lead on bail reform, Michigan is considering a change on the issue of bond. To discuss this issue, we obtained commentary from leaders in the criminal defense sector. law and justice

Scott Grabel is a founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a team of criminal defense lawyers that are known as the top in the state of Michigan. When asked about bail reform, Grabel stated, “One thing that has to be understood is that there is a presumption of innocence when somebody is charged with a crime. That is often forgotten about in our criminal justice system. When a defendant is given a high bond, it cripples their defense and can invade their constitutional rights.”

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 criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan and proved commentary on the issue. Amadeo said, “Far too often we see heightened bonds without a Magistrate knowing all of the facts. Luckily, we have two tremendous Magistrates in Washtenaw County in Elisha Fink and Tamara Garwood that look to protect the community while protecting the constitutional rights of the defendant. In many other counties, the imposition of the bond becomes an issue of danger to the defendant. If a defendant does not have the option to get bonded out, their chances of winning at trial are greatly reduced. I understand the pressures of the prosecutor to make certain that the defendant comes to court, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle for all involved.”

In a move that may present changes to the California Legislature, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-California) has announced a bill that would raise the age of adult prosecutions to 20 years of age within their state. Senate Bill 899 has garnered a tremendous amount of attention on social media. It could have a profound effect on Michigan legislation. iStock_000025943007_XXXLarge-2-300x200

Senator Skinner has publicly stated, “When teenagers make serious mistakes and commit crimes, state prison is not the answer. Processing teenagers through the juvenile justice system will help ensure they receive the appropriate education, counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation services necessary to achieve real public safety outcomes.” When asked about this legislation and its impact on the state of Michigan, we spoke to leaders in the criminal law community to gain their insight.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a law firm that is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about Senate Bill 899, Grabel stated, “The “Raise the Age” plan by Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) has also made strides to protect young people. The reality is that juveniles should be treated differently than their adult counterparts in the criminal justice system. The California Bill could have a profound effect on protecting our youth across the country.”

One of the few civic requirements we have as U.S. citizens is that of jury duty. There aren’t many terms that get the collective “ugh” like jury duty does. It is one of our highest responsibilities, yet it is generally viewed in a pretty negative way. The first thing that most people do when receiving a summons for jury duty is to reach out to their lawyer friend to ask them how to get out of it! In this quick guide, we will discuss who gets chosen for jury duty, what to expect if you are chosen, and what can happen if you don’t show up. 12736626-300x199

Who Gets Chosen For Jury Duty?

Any U.S. citizen aged 18 or older is eligible to be chosen for jury duty as long he or she doesn’t have any felony convictions. The jury pool is comprised of people who live in your district that have a valid ID or driver’s license. You must be able to communicate and understand the English language in order to serve as a juror. You also must be physically and mentally able to carry out the functions of a juror to serve as one. If you have physical limitations that prevent you from sitting in one place for too long or have any mental limitations that prevent you from being able to pay close attention for longer periods of time then those could be legitimate reasons to be excused from serving as a juror. If you are older than 70, then you may request an age exemption from jury service. Finally, you may not serve on more than one jury in a twelve-month period.

Your initial choice in who your attorney is to defend you in a criminal case is obviously a very important one. Your attorney can single-handedly be the reason why you win or lose your case. Everyone wants the luxury of feeling that their attorney is the right one for the job every time they step foot in a courtroom. What happens if you aren’t happy with their work? What happens if the attorney-client relationship has gotten to the point that it is no longer workable? Are you allowed to switch attorneys in the middle of your case? Is that even a good idea? These are some of the questions that come about during certain cases. Sometimes, the attorney you initially hire really isn’t the person for the job and it is your responsibility to do something about it. That is, if the court will allow the change. iStock_000003118029_Large-2-300x200

The Process Of Choosing An Attorney

The process of choosing an attorney can be quite complicated. All attorneys carry the same license no matter what their specialty. It is important to choose an attorney that has the experience necessary in your specific area needed in order for you to receive the highest level of representation possible. Would you hire a foot doctor to do an open-heart surgery? So then why do people hire divorce attorneys to handle their criminal cases? The answer is that many attorneys are simply good salesmen, or they were recommended by someone who isn’t an attorney themselves. It is not expected that you know how good an attorney truly is in whatever subject area, but in today’s day and age, you are more able than ever to properly research the attorneys you are considering in order to make the best choice possible. Attorneys come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are looking for an attorney for representation on a traffic ticket or for a murder case, it is important that you take your time, meet with multiple attorneys and see which attorney fits your needs best before you make your decision. At Grabel & Associates, we always offer a FREE consultation so you can meet with us to discuss your case before you make any big decisions.

In the wake of his alma mater LSU winning a national championship, video surfaced of Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) gently tapping a police officer on the posterior. The acts of Beckham led to two potential arrest warrants. The first proposed warrant was for sexual assault. The second proposed warrant was for misdemeanor assault and battery. The sports world turned from a historic victory for LSU to wondering if OBJ would actually be prosecuted for this act. While an action like this may seem insignificant, if OBJ was charged and convicted, he may have been suspended from the NFL and had his life altered. To gain insight into this story we spoke to leaders in the criminal law community to gain their insight.

odell-beckham-jr-cropped_nhpxqa9a9xq316im1extm1kia-1

© Getty Images

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a law firm that is know as the top criminal defense team across the state of Michigan. When asked for commentary, Grabel said, “Sometimes in our profession people can get carried away. Beckham was in a locker room celebrating with young kids from his school. He clearly had no intent to hurt anybody. To charge him with a crime, let alone a sexual offense would’ve been a miscarriage of justice.”

An expert witness is someone who is able to testify about some sort of specialized field that is important in a trial. An expert witness typically didn’t actually “witness” anything. Most witnesses that testify in court testify to some sort of first-hand personal knowledge regarding the case at hand. An expert witness almost assuredly was not anywhere near the incident when it took place, nor has any first-hand knowledge of the case outside of what evidence was presented to him or her. According to Rule 702 in the in both the Michigan and Federal Rules, an expert witness is someone who can use their expert knowledge in a particular scientific, technical, or other specialized area to help determine what the facts are in a specific case. iStock_000013709005_Medium-300x210

How Is Someone Deemed An Expert Witness?

In the state of Michigan, in order to become an expert witness in a case. A court must first determine the need for an expert and then agree that the field of expertise is a recognized one. An expert is subject to being questioned by both attorneys and the judge regarding their expertise on a particular subject before they are deemed an expert witness for the case at hand. An expert witness typically has a high level of formal education on a particular subject and is also usually a published author regarding the same subject. Once an expert is allowed to testify, they typically give their opinions on specific areas of evidence in a particular case. An expert witness will draw their own opinions and conclusions from applying reliable principles or methods to the case at hand. Expert witnesses are extremely valuable to both prosecution and defense.

If you have ever stepped foot in a Michigan courthouse, you have undoubtedly encountered the “no cell phone” rule. Michigan courts have typically only allowed court personnel and attorneys to take their cell phones, tablets etc. inside courthouses past the metal detectors that you usually first encounter. Some courts have small lockers that you can use to lock up your phones, while other courts simply tell you to leave your phone in the car. Leaving your phone in the car is a problem if you don’t have a car or didn’t drive to court. People who take public transportation, bike, or Uber to court are often left wondering where they can put their phone since they aren’t allowed to take them inside. Some people even resort to hiding their devices in bushes outside of courthouses. As of the beginning of 2020, that has all changed. On January 8th, the Michigan Supreme Court amended the Michigan court rule (MCR 8.115) to allow cell phones, tablets, laptops, and any other similar items inside Michigan courthouses. It allowed people to have the ability to research, communicate, and take notes electronically. This is a major change from the past. mEHdjKG

What are the permitted uses of cell phones inside courthouses?

You may now use your cell phone or other device to send and receive text messages, take notes, and access email and the internet while inside courthouses and courtrooms. You are now able to also take photos of court documents within the court clerk’s office so long as you don’t leave any mark or impression on the original document. This is a big departure from how things were done in the past where members of the public would have to pay as much as $1 per page for copies.

In the field of criminal defense, the witness list is a standard requirement. The list will be required 30 days before trial or based upon the scheduling order provided by the circuit court judge. While many lawyers feel the need to make an extensive witness list, this may not always be in the best interest of the client. Sometimes less is more. Today, we will discuss why there are times when placing no witnesses on the list may be a wise decision for the criminal defense lawyer. DL-Section-Button-Why-Hire-US-300x200

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a criminal defense team that is known as the top in the state of Michigan. When asked about the witness list, Grabel stated, “This is not a one size fits all proposition. The lack of a witness list can be as helpful as a long one may serve. It is not the defense counsel’s burden to prove the case, and there are times when solely playing defense is the best strategy for the client.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Known as a top trial lawyer, Amadeo stated, “When you are doing voir dire, you have to teach the jury who has the burden and connect with them. If you can review the questionnaire on the jury pool, you can learn a lot about them and whether they will understand the lack of a witness or hold it against your client. This process differs significantly from county to county. Sometimes it makes sense to limit the time of trial; sometimes the best move is to make it as long as possible. There is no rulebook for trial strategy in our state.

Sometimes in criminal law, a case appears unwinnable. For example, if your client was caught with child pornography and the prosecution can authenticate the illegal material. While that is not a case that you would take to trial, there are ways to provide a layer of protection for your client. One such way is to have the client examined with the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). ring-binder-3-1286891-m

The MMPI-2 can be utilized to detect personality disorders. If a disorder is detected that can provide support that the defense attorney can place into the sentencing memorandum to help provide insight as to why the defendant has been charged with the crime.

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates provided insight into the mmPI-2 when he stated, “This is a test that most people do not have an extensive knowledge of. Generally, the test will be given by a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to determine a disorder. While this does not mean that the defendant is incompetent, it does provide an added element of a defense which is essential at sentencing.”

Contact Information