The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that the criminal defendant is entitled to a speedy trial. Without this right, criminal defendants could be held indefinitely under a cloud of unproven criminal accusations. The right to a speedy trial also is crucial to ensuring that a criminal defendant receives a fair trial. If too much time elapses between the charge and the trial, witnesses may die or leave the area, their memories may fade, and physical evidence may be lost. When our founding fathers came up with this concept, it is safe to say that they did not anticipate a national pandemic such as COVID-19. The battle of judicial economy and the factors of a speedy trial are on a collision course. The four factors that a court will examine when examining if the right to a speedy trial include: The length of the delay; the reason for the delay; the defendant bringing the assertion of the delay, and the defendant’s prejudice. To discuss these factors, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan and gathered their insight.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is known as the top criminal defense firm in Michigan. Grabel spoke of the length of delay when he said, “The jail can only hold a defendant in their facility for 180 days. If we are following this rule by the book, the 180 days can work to the defendant’s favor, but the rule is not always black and white.”

Joe Brugnoli is a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates and is known as the top criminal defense attorney in Kent County, Michigan. Brugnoli spoke of the reason for the delay, which is factor number two. Brugnoli stated, “As a defense counsel, you cannot have adjournments attributed to the defendant and then argue for a speedy trial. It would help if you strategized about this when you have a client charged with a capital case and cannot afford or has been denied a bond. Denial of bond does not mean the case is not winnable. The politics of bond arguments can play a large factor.”

In the field of criminal defense, especially that of theft crimes, we find individuals facing prosecutions at an alarming rate. A question that many people wonder is why aren’t there more corporate prosecutions? Do the likes of companies such as “Enron” and “WorldCom” get somehow of a free pass while those charged with Retail Fraud (shoplifting) face continual prosecutions? To discuss this matter in greater detail, we spoke to 3 of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan to gain their insight.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and is known to have the top criminal defense team across the state of Michigan. When asked about criminal prosecutions, Grabel stated, “We really do not see a lot of this and the reality is that when a corporation is facing criminal charges they tend to engage a big named civil defense firm which is confusing. It is almost as if the corporate defendants’ stay with firms that they work with as opposed to engaging a firm that specializes in criminal law. It can truly set the defendant up for failure.”

William Amadeo is a Partner for McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Ingham and Shiawassee County, Michigan. Amadeo, who is known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County added his insight when he said, “Different judges have different hotspots. Many times when dealing with theft there is a lot of confusion. Quite often, we see Presentence Investigation Reports that make the case seem far worse than it is. The reality is that where we stand in the criminal justice system, if you steal $1 million you get the benefit of the doubt but if you steal groceries from “Meijer” you face stiff prosecution. It’s a bizarre system that we need to fix. If you want to prosecute go after the true criminal, not the single mother trying to feed her family.”

Timeline of Recreational Marijuana in Detroit Since State Legalization

In the two years since marijuana was legalized at the state level by popular vote in the 2018 elections, the introduction into the mainstream marketplace has seen its challenges. While an overwhelming majority of Michiganders voted to legalize marijuana in 2018, many local cities have chosen to exclude recreational marijuana retailers as a way to “keep marijuana out of their cities.” There are more than 1,400 municipalities who have blocked recreational marijuana businesses from opening in their areas. Since legalization, adult-use retail sales have eclipsed $375 million, with a very limited number of retail stores in Michigan. This number is expected to significantly increase with the long-awaited introduction of the city of Detroit into the legal recreational marijuana marketplace. Detroit City Council recently voted on a measure to allow recreational marijuana sales, along with a number of other licenses and permits related to the recreational industry.

Detroit City Council Ordinance Allowing Recreational Sales

Original Case Details

Our blog has covered the multiple corruption charges and cases relating to former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith since its inception, and as of this writing, the federal case against him is still pending an official plea. Smith was originally arrested and charged with 10 different state public corruption charges as discussed in a previous blog here. He was later charged federally with a single count of obstruction of justice. His federal obstruction of justice charge is related to the allegations that Smith set up an illegal kickback scheme to funnel $70,000 from his reelection campaign account. The federal and state charges are unrelated and operate independently of one another. Back in September, Smith agreed to plead guilty to the count of obstruction of justice. The actual in-court plea has not happened yet and is being delayed due to Smith being diagnosed with COVID-19. It has been reported that Smith was released from the hospital on November 9th and remains quarantined in his home. He is reportedly still suffering extreme symptoms related to the virus. As such, his attorneys submitted a motion to the court asking for the plea date to be moved due to Smith’s COVID-19 diagnosis and continued health concerns. 

Pending Plea

The Michigan Citizen’s Arrest Law Explained

A number of cases have arisen recently in the state of Michigan that have raised questions about the existence and legitimacy of the ability for private citizens to be able to make a “citizen’s arrest.” In general, private citizens are not allowed to act like police and arrest people they believe need to be arrested. Michigan law, does however allow for a private citizen to make a citizen’s arrest in certain circumstances, they include:

• The ability to make an arrest for a felony committed in the person’s presence;

Expungements in Michigan

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed into law an expansion of the state expungement statute making more people eligible for expungement as well as making some expungements automatic. An expungement is a legal process where a court will remove one or more criminal convictions from your permanent record. You are not able to expunge every type of criminal conviction, so it is important to understand the new law as it applies to you. A 2019 University of Michigan study found that only 6.5% of people who are eligible for an expungement get their records cleared within five years. So, 93.5% of people who have a criminal record and are eligible for an expungement to remove the criminal conviction don’t get it done within the first five years they are eligible to do so. These convictions can hurt your ability to find good employment, can limit where you are able to live, and can otherwise be a black mark on you that limits your opportunities. These startling statistics symbolized the need for an expansive change in the expungement process leading to new Michigan expungement laws.

Major Changes in New Expungement Laws

Original Case Details

On May 1, 2008 Richard and Brenda Kowalski were shot and killed and later found dead at their Livingston County home. Richard’s brother, Jerome Kowalski, was named as a suspect and brought in for questioning. Battling an alcohol addiction, Jerome believed at first that he may have been guilty of committing the crimes but didn’t remember. He later realized that he could not have done it when he learned what type of gun the murder weapon was from the detectives. The detectives started to assert that Jerome’s sons were involved in the murders and threatened to bring them in for questioning. Afraid for his sons, Jerome gave the police a signed confession which he would later recant. It was later shown at trial that the time of death was in the middle of the night while Jerome was actually at work. Then-Judge Theresa Brennan refused to allow an expert witness to discuss the science behind false confessions. In 2013, Jerome Kowalski was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Richard and Brenda Kowalski and was sentenced to life in prison by then-Judge Brennan. It was later discovered that Brennan was having an affair with the lead detective and failed to recuse herself and lied to cover the affair. She has been removed from office and criminally convicted. Due to Brennan’s misconduct, Jerome Kowalski’s conviction was vacated in January 2019, and he is now headed towards a re-trial. The new judge on the case, Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart recently ruled in favor of allowing a false confession expert to testify in the retrial.

When are Expert Witnesses Necessary?

Original Case Details

Michelle York, a 33-year-old woman from Wyandotte was arrested and charged after allegedly pulling a gun on a DoorDash delivery driver and firing at him during a dispute. The driver spoke with police and stated that York became angry regarding her order from McDonalds and allegedly pulled a gun and fired shots at him. The gun allegedly misfired on the first shot, and York then attempted to fire at the driver two more times and missed both times. Police responded to the scene, and after a short standoff, the woman was taken into custody. She was charged and arraigned on seven felony charges related to the incident. York’s bond was set at $100,000/10% which was later posted, and York was released from custody. As a condition of her bond, she is required to be monitored through an electronic GPS tether. She continues to be out of custody and monitored by a tether as of this writing.

What are the Woman’s Criminal Charges for Allegedly Shooting at Driver?

Original Case Details

On April 5th of this year, the rapper Eminem woke up to find a man standing behind him in his Clinton Township home. Investigators say that Eminem initially thought the person standing behind him was his nephew but was surprised to find out that it was a complete stranger. Eminem asked him why he was there, and the man, identified as Matthew David Hughes, said he was there to kill him. During the preliminary exam hearing, Clinton Township police officer Adam Hackstock testified that when he arrived at Eminem’s home in Clinton Township, he found Eminem’s security guard fighting with Hughes. Police were able to take Hughes into custody without much incident or struggle. Police testified that a brick was found inside the house next to a broken window where Hughes is said to have entered the home. Security footage is said to show that Hughes was on the premises of Eminem’s home for a while before he entered the house through the broken window. Hughes was unarmed when he was taken into custody and did not use or attempt to use any weapons during the alleged crime. Hughes was scheduled to take a competency evaluation but later turned it down. His defense attorney has stated on the record that he thinks there are mental health issues involved in the case.

Charges and Potential Penalties for Eminem’s Alleged Home Invader

Original Case Details

Deandre Williams, a 28-year-old man from Detroit stands accused of killing a Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy in the Wayne County Jail while he was being held on carjacking and weapons charges. Cpl. Bryant Searcy was killed as he made his rounds checking cell doors in the Wayne County Jail. According to authorities, Searcy closed a door he thought was locked and continued walking in an attempt to secure the next areas of the jail. The door unfortunately wasn’t locked, and Williams allegedly jumped out and attacked Searcy, choking him and beating him, finally taking Searcy’s keys to try to escape. Williams allegedly acted alone in attacking the Wayne County Deputy and attempting to escape from the Wayne County Jail. Deputies found Searcy unresponsive and had him transported to the hospital where he later died.

Criminal Charges for Alleged Cop Killer

Contact Information