Articles Posted in Appeals

When doing defense in criminal sexual conduct (CSC) cases, one technique that can assist in the litigation is the “Rape Shield Notice.” When accepted by the court, this notice will allow the sexual history of the complaining witness to be brought to the attention of the jury. According to the Michigan Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Evidence, when someone claims to be a victim of a CSC, the question becomes whether or not their sexual history should come into admissibility. Writing-to-Win-Button-Appeals-Section-300x246

Michigan’s Rape Shield Statute (MCL 750.520 j) states: (1) Evidence of specific instances of the victim’s sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim’s sexual behavior, and reputation evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct shall not be admitted under sections 520b to 520g unless and only to the extent that the judge finds that the following proposed evidence is material to a fact at issue in the case and that its inflammatory or prejudicial nature does not outweigh its probative value:

(a) Evidence of the victim’s past sexual conduct with the actor.

In what looked like an impossible hurdle to climb, the law firm of Grabel and Associates shocked the state of Michigan by winning their second decision before the Michigan Supreme Court in less than a 3-week time span when the highest court of the state overturned the “People v. Alexander” decision that was rendered before the Michigan Court of Appeals (People v. Alexander, 2016 WL 5887900 [Red Flagged Michigan Court of Appeals decision]).

The case is one that has garnered an immense amount of controversy on social media and beyond. At trial, a jury found former Michigan State Police Officer Brian Alexander guilty of four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct but after that decision was rendered the defendant filed a motion for a new trial and evidentiary hearing based upon various allegations which included inconsistent testimony that was on the record at the preliminary hearing and new evidence that could’ve changed the outcome of the case. The trial court granted the motion and with it a new trial was ordered. The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s decision and now the Michigan Supreme Court weighed in by overturning the Appellate Court which leaves the legal community to ponder whether or not newly discovered evidence will grant a new trial? Grabel04a-2-300x146

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates was the lead counsel for the defense. Grabel spoke of the Supreme Court’s decision and weighed in on the law. Grabel was quoted as saying, “Whenever you are faced with a decision such as this, we have to turn to “People v. Cress” which lays out the elements that have to be proven (People v. Cress,  468 Mich 678, 664 NW2d 174 [2003]). The Cress court provides the blueprint and once that research is completed, it’s time to go to battle. Today, our Supreme Court voted in the favor of protecting the constitutional rights of not only Brian Alexander but anyone faced with similar circumstances and now he has a new chance at freedom. As a criminal defense attorney, the only thing that we can really ask is that our court system preserves the protections of our constitution. Today, I’m proud to say that was accomplished.”

On Friday February 26, 30-year-old Leshawn Stanbridge’s federal drug conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Stanbridge, a Quincy resident, pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in July of last year. Now, after serving 23 months behind bars, he has been released. 24259101_s-300x199

Two Quincy police officers were on patrol in April of 2014 when they claim they saw Stanbridge carrying a duffel bag as he walked to his vehicle, allegedly hesitating when he saw the two officers and acting suspicious. The two officers, Steve Bangert and Paul Hodges, then began to “shadow” Stanbridge according to news reports.

As the officers followed, Stanbridge put on his right turn signal and pulled to the side of the road. The officers pulled in behind the suspect, as Hodges said that Stanbridge had made a left-hand turn at an intersection without signaling. In Illinois, motorists are required to activate a turn signal for 100 feet prior to making a turn. While Hodges said Stanbridge did not signal, Bangert claimed he did not witness the traffic violation.

A man who has been in prison for about 16 years for allegedly raping and murdering a Kalkaska woman in 1996 will now get a new trial thanks to recent testing of DNA evidence, according to a news article at Jamie Peterson was sentenced to life in prison for the 1996 crimes against Geraldine Montgomery, who was 68 years old at the time she was found dead in the trunk of her car after being raped. dna-markers-97211-m

At the time the crimes took place, DNA technology was in is infancy. The source of saliva and semen found on Montgomery’s shirt could not be identified, although prosecutors argued that it likely belonged to the defendant, Jamie Peterson.

Last year, the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago and Michigan Law School innocent projects concluded that Peterson had been wrongly convicted of the crime after sending hundreds of hours researching the case. DNA testing that was performed recently indicated that the saliva and semen did not belong to Peterson, but instead to James Anthony Ryan, a 35-year-old Davison man. The victim was raped before being left in the trunk of her car with the engine running.

The Innocence Clinic maintains that the DNA testing performed on the rape kit excludes Peterson as the donor. Ryan is awaiting trial on the charges, while Peterson will get a new trial as according to the judge, the DNA test results qualify as newly discovered evidence. Although Peterson made a false confession at the time of the rape and murder, his attorney maintains his client is innocent, and was never inside the victim’s home.

Michigan sex crime attorneys know all too well that suspects often confess when under duress and pressured relentlessly by police. While the most horrendous aspect of this case is the fact that the victim lost her life, being falsely accused of rape happens all too often. A man has spent many years of his life in prison for a crime he very likely did not commit, according to new DNA evidence.

Continue reading

Earlier this week the Michigan Court of Appeals determined that a Tipton man should receive a new sentence in a Lenawee County child sex abuse case. The criminal sexual conduct case involves a grandfather – Delmar Lee Toth – who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 following a non-jury trial. Judge Timothy Pickard sentenced the man to four life terms for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. However, this sentence exceeded Michigan state sentencing guidelines. Toth filed a sex crime appeal and the court determined that some errors were made.

If you or someone you know has been convicted of a sex crime or has accepted a plea agreement that seemed unfair, you may want to seek appellate review. It’s important to seek the advice of an aggressive Michigan sex crime appeals attorney at once if you believe you did not receive a fair trial – either due to overzealous prosecutors and judges who overstep their legal authority, or from inadequate legal representation that amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel. Whatever the appellate issue, it’s critical to talk to a knowledgeable sex crimes appeals attorney to give you a second chance at securing justice.

Under Michigan law, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is a felony; consecutive terms. MCL Sec. 520b provides:

(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exists:
(a) That other person is under 13 years of age.

The alleged victim in this case was a 6-year-old girl.

Here, the court of appeals evaluated several issues relating to Toth’s sentence including whether improper testimony was allowed at trial, judicial bias and whether the court held Toth’s silence against him. Each of these issues may be grounds for challenging the trial court’s finding.

Continue reading

The Michigan Court of Appeals has just upheld the rape and kidnapping conviction of a Clare County man – Justin Todd Gaskill – who is currently serving a 35 to 60 year conviction for a rape of an 11-year-old girl. Gaskill filed a sex crimes appeal, alleging trial court error. Gaskill asserted that lower trial court erred in determining that he was fit to stand trial, and also alleged that he was insane at the time that he kidnapped and raped an 11-year-old girl in Farwell.

In Michigan, sex crime convictions are serious and carry with them significant penalties. As a result, if you have been convicted of a sex crime or accepted a plea deal that seems unfair, you may want to appeal your case. It’s important to speak with a skilled Michigan sex crime appeals attorney to review your case.

Here – the issue raised on appeal was whether Gaskill was fit to stand trial and whether the insanity defense was available. In some situations, “legal insanity,” may be a complete defense to criminal prosecution. Legal insanity is defined by the Michigan mental health code as an individual who because of a mental illness or mental retardation “lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his or her conduct, or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law.” If the court concludes that a person is “legally insane” then he or she may be acquitted of a crime.

The insanity defense may be used as part of a vigorous criminal defense strategy. If you or a loved one has been charged with a Michigan sex crime, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable sex crimes law firm that is familiar with the most effective defenses and strategies that may help you get your charges reduced or even eliminated.

Continue reading

A recent Lenawee County sex abuse case has been sent back to circuit court as the result of attorney error. A Michigan appellate court determined that the defendant was not given a fair trial due to a number of attorney mistakes, including the failure to be given the opportunity to accept a plea bargain and avoid a mandatory 25-year-prison term.

In People of Michigan v. Douglas, Douglas was accused of first-degree criminal sexual conduct based on allegations that he had a 3-year-old girl perform oral sex on him while he was living in Franklin Township. According to MCL 750.520(b), if a person is found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree involving an individual who is under the age of 13, he or she may face a prison sentence of up to 25 years in jail.

If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is important to consult with an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense attorney right away to begin an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Further, in many instances even if you have been convicted or accepted a plea deal that seems unfair, you may seek appellate review with an experienced Michigan sex crimes appeals attorney.

At trial, Douglas asserted that the allegations were made up by the girl’s mother who was mad at him for leaving her and marrying another woman. A jury convicted him at the end of trial and sentenced him to a 7 to 30-year term, which was then amended to a 25-37 ½ year term. On appeal, the court determined that Douglas’ counsel made a variety of errors including:

• not advising Douglas about the risk of a 25-year prison term;
• not objecting to improper testimony by prosecution witnesses; and
• failing to question the girl about inconsistent statements at trial.

Continue reading

A Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that new testimony may be heard in the sexual assault case of Lorinda Swain. Swain is seeking a new trial on sexual assault charges after being convicted by a jury in 2002 of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving her son. Criminal sexual conduct is a generic term referring to a group of sexual crimes including rape, sexual assault, statutory rape and child molestation. Each degree of criminal sexual conduct offense carries with it different penalties, with first degree being the most serious.

Since her conviction in 2002, Swain has sought to overturn her conviction after discovering new evidence not raised at trial. This past week, a three-judge panel found that lawyers from the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic should be allowed to present this additional evidence to Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Conrad Sindt.

Sex crimes charges are serious, and a conviction for criminal sexual conduct can have a significant impact on your future and your freedom. If you have been charged with a Michigan sex crime, it is important to speak with an aggressive Michigan sex crimes defense attorney immediately to begin preparing your defense. Where you have been convicted of a sex crime, a Michigan sex crimes appeals attorney can determine whether appealable issues exists and review the trial record to ensure your side of the case was fully and effectively presented before the jury and weaknesses properly exposed.

Here, several issues were raised on appeal – including the discovery of new, exculpatory evidence.

Continue reading

The Huron Daily Tribune reports that the Huron County Court determined on Monday to set aside the 2006 fourth degree criminal sexual conduct conviction of Kenneth Adkins. Criminal sexual conduct is a general term referring to sex crimes that are categorized into four degrees – criminal sexual conduct first degree, criminal sexual conduct second degree, criminal sexual conduct third degree and criminal sexual conduct fourth degree. Criminal sexual conduct fourth degree fourth degree refers to sexual touching of an intimate body part without penetration.

If you are under investigation for or have been charged with any form of criminal sexual conduct, it is crucial to speak to an aggressive Michigan sex crimes defense attorney right away to protect your rights and begin preparing your defense.

Here, a Huron County jury convicted Adkins of the sex crime for allegedly making advances to a part-time dietary aid and reaching his hands down the front of her pants. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, probation of 30 months and must register on the Michigan sex crimes registry for 15 years from the date of the offense.

On Monday, Adkins was in court seeking to set aside his conviction – sometimes referred to as an expungement. Expungements may be possible in certain sex crimes if you only have one conviction and your conviction is for a lesser sex offense. The guidelines are set for in MCL 780.621 et. seq. and MCL 712A.1. A knowledgeable Michigan sex crimes appeals attorney can advise you whether an expungement is possible in your matter.

Continue reading

After hearing testimony from Calhoun County prosecutors and representatives from the Michigan Innocence Project, Calhoun County judge Conrad Sindt granted Lorinda Swain a new hearing on charges she sexually assaulted her son nearly ten years ago.

If you have been charged with any Michigan sex crime, it is critical to contact an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense lawyer to protect your future and your freedom.

Here, Swain was convicted of molesting her son based primarily on her son’s testimony. Swain denied the allegations, and her son repeatedly recanted his testimony, but she was still convicted. News reports indicate that several other witnesses who could have helped establish her defense were never called by her former attorney, including the failure of Calhoun County detectives to tell Swain’s former attorney about testimony from her boyfriend that the incident never happened.

Based on claims of new information and ineffective counsel, Swain is seeking a new trial.

Continue reading

Contact Information