Articles Posted in Appeals

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?

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.”

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. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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In November, the Court of Appeals for Livingston County overturned a jury verdict finding Gary Clinton Owens guilty of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Court of Appeals found the combination of prosecutorial misconduct as well as inadequate defense representation required that the conviction be overturned. A new trial date has now be set.

This case illustrates the need for an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer when facing any type of criminal sexual conduct charge. Where you or someone you know has been convicted of a sex crime, or accepted a plea that seemed unfair, you may be able to appeal the results.

Here, the Michigan Court of Appeals found enough errors committed on both sides to find that Owens was denied justice. The prosecutor improperly questioned Owens about past drug use and made inappropriate comments about his trustworthiness. Prosecutorial misconduct affected Owens’ “substantial rights” by denying him and fair and impartial trial. The errors “seriously affected the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of the judicial proceeding.”

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According to the Detroit Free Press, the entire 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will review a 2001 rape conviction.

At issue – rape shield laws. Specifically, under what circumstances can the sex life of alleged rape victim be used by the defense at trial.

Generally, Michigan law excludes evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct or reputation at trial. However, exceptions may exist in limited circumstances – such as where the sexual conduct is between the accused and the victim, and where the past conduct is relevant to the case at hand.

Here, in a rape trial alleging non-consensual group sex, evidence of a previous act of group sex including the accused and the alleged victim was withheld. The accused – Lewis Gagne – was ultimately convicted and sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.

On appeal, a 3-person panel determined that Gagne’s rights were violated at trial. The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now agreed to revisit the case, finding that based on the facts of this case, the trial court violated the defendant’s due process rights in applying Michigan’s rape shield law.

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The Michigan Supreme Court has reversed last year’s court of appeal’s decision that a South Lyon man was free to go home because “double-jeopardy” barred him from being tried for a criminal sexual misconduct in Lenawee County. Double jeopardy bars the prosecution of an individual for a crime for which he’s already been tried.

Often, complicated procedural and substantive issues arise in trial that may significantly affect a defendant’s rights, including judges and prosecutors who overstep their legal authority. Appealing a sex crimes conviction or plea can be extremely confusing and complex, but often necessary to ensure justice.

Here, the Michigan man – Douglas Eugene Camp – stood trial in 2007 on charges of sexually abusing his 11-year old nephew. The judge granted a mistrial after a witness testified that the Camp had also been tried in Livingston County on the same charges and found not guilty.

The case was re-tried in 2008, and the new jury found Camp guilty of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. On appeal, the court of appeals determined that Camp had been placed in double jeopardy when the 2007 court declared the mistrial and determined Camp was free to go after serving only two years of his four-year and nine-month to 15-year prison term.

The Michigan Supreme Court reversed this ruling, reinstating the 2008 jury conviction.

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