Articles Posted in Appeals

A man convicted of criminal sexual assault, second degree, has won a new trial due to ineffective assistance of counsel.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Jeffrey Gioglio’s conviction for allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl should be overturned, saying that his constitutional rights were violated because his attorney was so bad.

This case underscores the need to find a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced sex crimes defense attorney if you are facing Michigan criminal sexual conduct charges.

The defense attorney in this case was so poor that it was the winning prosecutor who raised questions about the lawyer’s performance. Problems included the failure by the defense to give an opening statement and to cross-examine the accuser. According to the assistant prosecutor, after sentencing defense counsel turned to her, smiled and said, “He’s toast!”
The Michigan Court of Appeals found that defense counsel had “failed to meaningfully test the prosecutor’s case.”

The Court also noted “Our constitutions do not reserve the right to the effective assistance of counsel to only those defendants who are actually innocent…In this case, it is clear that [defense counsel’s] performance was so inadequate that, in effect, defendant had no assistance of counsel at all.”

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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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A Pinckney man – Gary Clinton Owens – was freed from jail Wednesday after spending two years in prison on charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. A jury had convicted the man of inappropriately touching a then 11-year-old girl.

On appeal however, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the assistant prosecutor engaged in misconduct by improperly referring to Owens’ past cocaine use and making inappropriate comments in closing. The Court of Appeals also found that Owens’ own attorney had failed to use expert testimony at trial that could have cast doubt about Owens’ guilt.

The criminal justice system failed Owens at trial and he spent two years of his life locked up as a result. Unfortunately, the reality is that many people are false accused of and wrongfully charged with committing a criminal sexual conduct offense because the law only requires that an allegation of sexual misconduct be made.

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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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