COVID-19 has presented problems in our society that nobody could have expected. With a backlog in our courts and our economy compromised, one crime that is on the rise in domestic violence. This issue was first addressed in an article by New York Times journalist Amanda Taub on April 6, 2020. Since that time, the state of Michigan has seen a significant uptick in domestic violence cases with little relief to these situations. We spoke to lawyers and employees in the criminal system to discuss the issue.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is known as the top criminal defense firm across the state of Michigan. When asked about the rise of domestic violence reports, Grabel commented, “COVID-19 is causing a lot of tragic issues across our country. In addition to the rise of deaths, we are seeing domestic violence (DV) increasing, and the main reason for that is frustration. People are worried about their next paycheck; they are arguing over politics and are stuck in the house. This becomes a recipe for bad decisions.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates covering Wayne and Shiawassee Counties. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers across the state of Michigan. When asked about this situation, Amadeo said, “I’ve seen a lot of calls in Pittsfield Township for DV’s. Studies show that a woman usually does not report a domestic violence incident until the 7th time she has been abused, and even then, she often will not show up to court. With no court to handle out of custody defendants, this will become a difficult time for prosecutors. Arianne Slay was running for the prosecutor in Washtenaw County and was on the phones all day working to correct this tragedy due to the rise in our county. This is a time when prosecutors and defense lawyers need to work in unison.”
Nick Sanderson is a private investigator for McManus and Amadeo, Grabel and Associates, Lane Zabawa, and other criminal defense firms across the state of Michigan. Sanderson had had a solid career in law enforcement and added his thoughts when he said, “As someone that is working and living in Eaton County, Michigan, we see DV’s on the rise. We see the situation in Lansing, causing a major debate between different political views. I would advise safety first but prepare for the expected.”
Lane Zabawa is a top estate planning attorney and criminal defense lawyer in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Zabawa stated, “I have called Nick Sanderson on a multitude of issues in Kent County the last two weeks. Working in estate planning and criminal defense, I am seeing that clients that need both protection and are expressing concern. DV’s are on the rise; there is no question about that at all.”
Nancy Eaton-Gordon is a partner at Jackson Eaton-Gordon in Lenawee County, Michigan, and is known as an elite attorney. Eaton-Gordon started, “I know that the prosecutor’s office in Lenawee is bringing some staff back, and a big reason is the number of DV’s that are being reported. I’m not sure when COVID will end, but I have been in contact with clients regularly and have been told being able to speak to their lawyer has a calming effect. This is a time when we need to be counselors.”
President Donald Trump and Governor Gretchen Whitmer seem to be at odds on how to negotiate through COVID-19. Uncertainty within the political half-circle has the potential to make a dangerous situation worse. This is a time when we need to put partisan issues aside, and solutions will be required.