2011

November 2011

3rd Annual Athletes Adopt Families for the Holidays

Click On Detroit
November 27, 2011

On December 5, 2011, area athletes and the Southeast Michigan business community will come together for a special evening, the 3rd Annual “Athletes Adopting Families for the Holidays” event at The Reserve in Birmingham, MI (215 S. Eton Street).

Supporting sponsors from around the Metro Detroit area include: Presenting Sponsor, Stonebridge Financial, along with O’ Brien Construction, Lucido Fine Jewelry, Quicken Loans, Fathead, Comerica, Vital Performance, Studio 32, Abood Law Firm, Just Baked and more donate to this cause in hopes of raising $100,000 for Volunteers of America Michigan’s the Adopt A Family program.]
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3rd Annual Athletes Adopt Families for the Holidays

Click On Detroit
November 27, 2011

Birmingham – On December 5, 2011, area athletes and the Southeast Michigan business community will come together for a special evening, the 3rd Annual “Athletes Adopting Families for the Holidays” event at The Reserve in Birmingham, MI (215 S. Eton Street).

Supporting sponsors from around the Metro Detroit area include: Presenting Sponsor, Stonebridge Financial, along with O’ Brien Construction, Lucido Fine Jewelry, Quicken Loans, Fathead, Comerica, Vital Performance, Studio 32, Abood Law Firm, Just Baked and more donate to this cause in hopes of raising $100,000 for Volunteers of America Michigan’s the Adopt A Family program.

October 2011

Former Fab Five star’s child support case moves to Circuit Court

Carol Hopkins
The Oakland Press
October 14, 2011

The child support case involving former University of Michigan Fab Five star Jimmy King will be heard in Oakland County Circuit Court.

King, who lives in Oakland County, waived a preliminary examination before Judge Cynthia Walker in Pontiac’ 50th District Court Thursday, sending the matter to circuit court.

King, 38, was arrested in August on accusations that he failed to pay more than $17,000 in child support for his 17-year-old son, Jalen King, who currently lives in Kansas.

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Former U-M ‘Fab Five’ star’s child support case moves to Circuit Court in Pontiac

Carol Hopkins
The Oakland Press
October 13, 2011

The child support case involving former University of Michigan “Fab Five” star Jimmy King will be heard in Oakland County Circuit Court.

King, who lives in Oakland County, waived a preliminary examination before Judge Cynthia Walker in Pontiac’ 50th District Court Thursday, sending the matter to circuit court.

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Family Suing Police Over Mother’s Unsolved Death

Click On Detroit
October 2, 2011

DETROIT – The family of a Michigan woman whose death remains unsolved is suing two police departments on claims witness statements were either ignored or never taken.

Grosse Pointe Farms resident Joann Matouk Romain was last seen Jan. 12, 2010, at a prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church.

Her car, with her purse, wallet and cash inside were found in the church parking lot.

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Jimmy King: I Will Continue To Support Family

Click On Detroit
October 2, 2011

PONTIAC, Mich. – Former University of Michigan basketball star Jimmy King broke his silence Tuesday about the charge he’s facing over past due child support.

King, a former member of Michigan’s “Fab 5,” spoke with Local 4 at a court hearing in the case. The 38-year-old father of three said he takes his family responsibilities very seriously.

“I don’t consider it a bill, it’s the support of my child,” he said.


September 2011

Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Charge Dismissed

The Abood Law Firm was successful by having a Client’s offense of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated charge dismissed in the 8th Judicial District Court in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Questions or Comments? Contact clint@aboodlaw.com

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Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

The Abood Law Firm was successful reducing a Client’s charge of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated charge to Careless Driving in 54B District Court in East Lansing, Michigan.

Questions or Comments? Contact clint@aboodlaw.com

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Ex-Wolverine faces child-support charge

Former Michigan Wolverines basketball star Jimmy King has been charged with failure to pay child support, a felony punishable by four years in prison.

King, 38, appeared in 50th District Court in Pontiac, Mich., Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reported.

King owed $17,209 for one child from 2008 to 2011, the state Attorney General’s Office said.

King’s lawyer said the economic downturn and an unexpected job loss affected King’s ability to pay child support.

“We are working to reach a resolution here and the primary purpose is we are trying to avoid a conviction on Jimmy’s record,” attorney Jeffery Lance Abood said. “By no means was he evading paying the child support or taking care of his obligation.”

King was recently hired to oversee sports programs for a Dearborn-based non-profit that assists communities in organizing athletic events that are free from drugs and violence.

“He has a good job now, a job that he enjoys, a job which he is passionate about and provides income, which enables him to be able to take care of his family,” Abood said.

King was ordered to reappear for a preliminary examination on Oct. 13.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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The Pride of Michigan

The state of Michigan takes pride in its program for catching and incarcerating deadbeat dads. It’s the only state that classifies failure to pay child support as a felony with penalties as severe as the possibility of four years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

The program has now ensnared a man who was once another object of Michigan pride: Jimmy King, a member of the University of Michigan’s celebrated Fab Five basketball teams of 1991-92 and 1992-93.

Jimmy King played in the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy golf outing in July.

King, 38, was arrested a month ago for failing to pay nearly $17,000 in support for a son who is a senior in high school.

The situation is complicated. The custody litigation was in Kansas. The boy, Jalen, resides in Texas with a grandmother. The charge against the father is in Michigan. It’s like a law school exam question in a particularly boring and useless course taught in all law schools and known as “Conflict of Laws.” The conflicting laws of the three states produce a conundrum that is a joy for professors and the bane of students in law schools everywhere.

For King, however, the case should be simple, according to his attorney. “If he had the money, he would pay it,” Jeffrey Abood said. “He wants to and will pay the money.”

At a court hearing in Oakland, Mich., on Thursday, King reported that he has found a job after nearly a year of unemployment and intends to formulate a plan to make installment payments on the arrearage. According to Abood, King also has arranged to move Jalen to Jimmy’s house in Southfield, Mich., and, in accordance with Jalen’s wishes, to enroll Jalen in the local high school.

A spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who orchestrated King’s arrest, supported King’s plans, explaining “Our goal is to use the criminal charge as leverage to establish a regular schedule of payments, with jail only as a last resort.”

It’s easy to see why the authorities in Michigan are so proud of their deadbeat dad program. It seems to work.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Former U-M star King in court over $17,209 child support bill

Fab Five legend Jimmy King sat quietly Thursday in 50th District Court in Pontiac as he was granted a preliminary examination after being charged last month with failure to pay child support.

King, 38, appeared in court for a pre-exam conference and is to reappear for a preliminary examination on Oct. 13. King was arraigned Aug. 11 on one count of failure to pay child support, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

“We are working to reach a resolution here and the primary purpose is we are trying to avoid a conviction on Jimmy’s record,” said Jeffery Lance Abood, King’s attorney. “By no means was he evading paying the child support or taking care of his obligation.”

King owed $17,209 for one child from 2008-11, according to the state Attorney General’s Office. Officials also said they spent six weeks trying to notify the former University of Michigan basketball star about delinquent child support by leaving notes at his home and calling him.

King was notified of the outstanding child support during the lawsuit, Abood said.

“It is important to know he has paid over $16,000 in child support,” Abood said. “He is currently making payments to meet that amount, plus future child support as well.”

Abood said King’s $3,500 cash bond also was applied to the payment.

“I’m working with everyone to make sure that we handle this diligently and I will continue to work with everyone to resolve this matter and hopefully this will be put behind us and we can move forward,” King said.

The economic downturn and an unexpected job loss are factors that, Abood said, affected King’s ability to pay child support.

“He has a good job now, a job that he enjoys, a job which he is passionate about and provides income which enables him to be able to take care of his family,” Abood said.

King was recently hired to run and facilitate sports programs for H.Y.P.E. (Helping Youth Progress & Excel) Athletics, a Dearborn-based nonprofit formed in 2001 to help communities organize diverse athletic events that are free from drugs and violence.

The organization is building a 104,000-square-foot building in Dearborn Heights.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Plot thickens (again) for Barry Bonds

Lester Munson
ESPNDesportes
September 9, 2011

You’re no doubt familiar with the Yogi-ism, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Well, in the view from our Courtside Seat, it’s true more often than not. For example, you might have thought the Barry Bonds case was over. Cut ‘n’ dried. Done deal. Au contraire! Turns out it ain’t over after all. The Bonds trial is still yielding legal twists and turns and surprises, with the promise of more to come. Eventually, we’ll get to deadbeat dads in That State Up North and other kinds of family feuds. But right now, we start today with …

Barry behind bars? Could happen

There were moments in the Barry Bonds perjury trial when you wondered about the prosecutors. Not any longer. Their recent actions show a startling degree of confidence in what they are doing. They might be right, and it might lead to an unexpected outcome: prison time for the Home Run King.

We’ll tell you why and how in a moment. But first, a little recent history from the trial to refresh your memory.

Read more

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Preliminary exam set for former Fab Five star Jimmy King’s child support case

Dave Phillips
The Oakland Press
September 8, 2011

A preliminary examination has been set for Oct. 13 for the child support case involving former University of Michigan Fab Five star Jimmy King.

King, 38, was arrested last month on accusations that he failed to pay more than $17,000 in child support for his 17-year-old son, who currently lives in Kansas.

He appeared in 50th District Court in Pontiac on Thursday for a pre-exam conference.


August 2011

Court Of Appeals Rules Pot Dispensaries Illegal

In a major published decision, the Court of Appeals has ruled today that dispensaries selling medical marijuana are illegal under the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana law.

“The ‘medical use’ of marihuana, as defined by the (Michigan Medical Marihuana Act), allows for the ‘delivery’ and ‘transfer’ of marihuana, but not the ‘sale’ of marihuana,” the court held. “We may not ignore, or view as inadvertent, the omission of the term ‘sale’ from the definition of the ‘medical use’ of marihuana.”

The 3-0 decision overturned the Isabella Circuit Court in Michigan v. McQueen DBA Compassionate Apothecary , which had rejected the state’s request for injunctive relief against a dispensary.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Andrew Abood Admitted to Practice in the State of Ohio

Andrew Abood has been admitted to practice pro hoc vice in the Appellate Court in the State of Ohio.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Jimmy King in court for child support

Associated Press
August 17, 2011

PONTIAC, Mich. — University of Michigan “Fab Five” member and ex-Toronto Raptors player Jimmy King said he is working with authorities to resolve a child support claim after being arrested earlier this month. The state says he failed to pay $17,000.

“We are working with the attorney general’s office,” King told reporters Tuesday outside a hearing in Pontiac. “We are going to do everything in our power to make sure that this is taken care of. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing to support my family.”

King, 38, is scheduled to return to court Sept. 9 for a preliminary hearing.

King was arrested Aug. 9 at a basketball camp at a northwest Detroit church. He was arraigned the next day on a charge of failing to pay support he owed for one child. The charge carries up to four years’ imprisonment but is commonly used to get parents to settle.

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Fab 5er Jimmy King in Court on Child Support Claim

Fox Detroit
August 17, 2011

University of Michigan “Fab Five” member and ex-Toronto Raptors player Jimmy King says he’s working with authorities to resolve a child support claim.

King told reporters Tuesday outside a hearing in Pontiac he’s taking steps to support his family. King returns to court Sept. 9 for a preliminary hearing.

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Fab 5er Jimmy King in Court on Child Support Claim

PONTIAC, Mich. – University of Michigan “Fab Five” member and ex-Toronto Raptors player Jimmy King says he’s working with authorities to resolve a child support claim.

King told reporters Tuesday outside a hearing in Pontiac he’s taking steps to support his family. King returns to court Sept. 9 for a preliminary hearing.

King was arrested Aug. 9 on accusations from the state attorney general’s office he failed to pay $17,000 in support and ignored repeated warnings to get back on schedule. He was arraigned the next day on a charge of failing to pay support he owed for one child.

The charge carries up to four years’ imprisonment but is commonly used to get parents to settle.

King’s lawyer Andrew Abood says his client has already paid $60,000 in support of his son.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Jimmy King back in court for child support case

The Abood Law Firm Represents Jimmy King

Watch the You Tube Video at:

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) – Once a part of the Fab Five, Jimmy King is in trouble for not paying child support. He appeared in front of a judge at the 50th District Court in Pontiac on Tuesday.

The former University of Michigan basketball star is accused of holding out on more than $17,000 in child support for one of his three kids. The child, a 17-year-old boy, lives out of state, and King’s attorneys say he’s paid more than $60,000 for his care already.

In court, Judge Cynthia Walker agreed to allow King to use the money he paid for his bond, $3,500, to go toward paying down the child support.

King was arrested earlier this month at New St. Mark Baptist Church in Detroit where he runs a basketball camp. The State Attorney General’s office says it had been trying to contact King for six weeks, but was unable to reach him.

If convicted, King could face four years in prison, but the state says the goal is to get him to pay.

King is scheduled to be back in court Sept. 9 for a preliminary hearing.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Former Fab-Five Player In Court For Back Child Support

CBS Detroit
August 16, 2011

PONTIAC (WWJ) – A member of the University of Michigan’s former basketball “Fab Five” was in court Tuesday for allegedly failing to pay child support.

WWJ’s Marie Osborne reports from the courthouse in Pontiac.

Jimmy King is accused of being $17,000 behind in child support, for his 17-year-old son who lives out-of-state. The charge is a four-year felony.

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Jimmy King back in court for child support case

Smita Kalokhe

Action News
August 16, 2011

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) – Once a part of the Fab Five, Jimmy King is in trouble for not paying child support. He appeared in front of a judge at the 50th District Court in Pontiac on Tuesday.The former University of Michigan basketball star is accused of holding out on more than $17,000 in child support for one of his three kids. The child, a 17-year-old boy, lives out of state, and King’s attorneys say he’s paid more than $60,000 for his care already.

In court, Judge Cynthia Walker agreed to allow King to use the money he paid for his bond, $3,500, to go toward paying down the child support.

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Family Sues Detroit Police Over Mother’s Unsolved Death

Officer.com
August 11, 2011

The family of a Michigan woman whose death remains unsolved is suing two police departments on claims witness statements were either ignored or never taken.

Grosse Pointe Farms resident Joann Matouk Romain was last seen Jan. 12, 2010, at a prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church.

Her car, with her purse, wallet and cash inside were found in the church parking lot.

Investigators said they tracked footprints in the snow from the lot to Lake St. Clair and searched the waters, but no traces of Romain were found. Then, in March, her body was found by fishermen in a channel of the Detroit River near Amherstburg, Ontario.

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Family Suing Police Over Mother’s Unsolved Death

The family of a Michigan woman whose death remains unsolved is suing two police departments on claims witness statements were either ignored or never taken.

Grosse Pointe Farms resident Joann Matouk Romain was last seen Jan. 12, 2010, at a prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church.

Her car, with her purse, wallet and cash inside were found in the church parking lot.

Investigators said they tracked footprints in the snow from the lot to Lake St. Clair and searched the waters, but no traces of Romain were found. Then, in March, her body was found by fishermen in a channel of the Detroit River near Amherstburg, Ontario.

Two autopsies were conducted. Both concluded she died by drowning. Police suspect a suicide. But her family diagrees.

“We do not believe this was a suicide or an accident. This was a murder, Roman’s daughter, Michelle, said.

Jeffrey Abood is the family’s attorney. He has said that although Romain was about to file for divorce, the idea of suicide does not fit.

“She was a very upbeat person. She was close to her family. She cared for her kids. She lived for her children,” Abood said.

Police have said they are sympathetic to the family’s concern but add their investigations did not find evidence of foul play.

But Abood’s law firm is now suing the Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Woods police departments. The Freedom of Information lawsuit requests that police turn over police reports and witness statements. In a release about the lawsuit, the law firm says some witness statements were never taken because witnesses were turned away by police. The firm also says Grosse Pointe Farms police never obtained any proof that Romain was suicidal.

 


 

May 2011

Abood Law Firm Prevails in Livingston County

Abood Law Firm prevails in obtaining a Money Judgment in Livingston County on behalf of its Client in the amount of $250,000.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

 


 

April 2011

Abood Law Firm Helps Client to get Money from Stolen Item

Schneider: Woman to finally get money for stolen item

Nineteen months after I wrote about a dispute over more than $6,000 in crime-victim restitution, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield ruled Monday that the 55th District Court “abused its discretion” in denying restitution to the “proper victim.”

Manderfield ordered the District Court to pay $6,685 to Penny Panetta, who lives in Lansing.
Responding, via email, to my inquiry Wednesday, District Court administrator Michael Dillon wrote: “The Court respects the opinion of the Circuit Court and will pay Ms. Panetta as ordered …”

Ripped off
The story goes back to 2006, when Panetta brought a tennis bracelet to an East Lansing store called iSold It. The shop, which closed in 2007, helped people sell items via eBay Inc. online auctions.
Panetta’s bracelet, made of gold diamonds, was stolen by an iSold It employee. That employee was charged and convicted, and was ordered, as part of his sentence, to pay Panetta $6,685 in restitution.
The thief paid the money to the District Court, which mistakenly forwarded it to the owner of the defunct store.
Originally, court officials confirmed that. One of them actually suggested that Panetta phone the guy who got her money and try to talk him into giving it back.
Initially Dillon told me a clerk “wrongly assumed the victim was the business owner” and made the payment to him. But then he said the assumption was correct, after all. He said the case file identified the store owner as the victim, and, thus, the rightful recipient of the restitution.
It was one of Panetta’s lawyers, Andrew Abood, who brought Manderfield’s decision to my attention. In an email to me Abood wrote:
“Obviously, Judge Manderfield had a pretty strong opinion about the manner in which Ms. Panetta was treated by the 55th District Court.”

No charge
Abood said he would waive his fee in the case, explaining that decision this way:
“Just look at the facts of the case,” he said. “She got screwed by the government, and I hope this brings it to a close.”
As for Panetta, she could hardly believe her long court battle is over.
“It was mind-boggling that they couldn’t understand (why the restitution belonged to her),” she said.
Panetta said she made up her mind at the beginning that she wouldn’t give up until she achieved justice.
“I told myself I would not stop – whatever I had to do,” she said. “What they were trying to do to me was wrong.”
In an email on Thursday Dillon wrote: “Our financial coordinator is currently in the process of issuing the check.”
The court, he added, will go after the money previously paid.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at Clint@aboodlaw.com

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Abood Law Firm Prevails Against Livingston County

The Abood Law Firm successfully prosecuted a violation of the Freedom of Information Act against Livingston County on behalf of the Nichols Law Firm. Specifically, the Nichols Law Firm filed a FOIA request for information related to a client’s case who was charged with OWI. The County failed to properly or timely respond pursuant to statute. ALF filed a Complaint in Ingham County claiming the County failed to timely respond and failed to timely produce the documents. The County denied the allegations and filed a Motion for Summary Disposition asserting that it had complied with the statute. The Court not only denied the motion but ruled that ALF”s client was entitled to summary disposition and entitled to attorney fees and costs.

Any Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

 


 

March 2011

Drowning victim’s family sues

A law firm representing the family of a woman who drowned last year filed a lawsuit against Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Farms, alleging their public safety departments won’t release documents and other evidence related to the case.

The Abood Law Firm represents the family of Joann Matouk Romain, 55, a Grosse Pointe Woods woman who disappeared from outside a Grosse Pointe Farms church on Jan. 12, 2010. Her body was discovered in the Detroit River on the Canadian side on March 20, 2010.

The lawsuits were filed in Ingham County Circuit Court earlier this month, alleging a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

In the lawsuits, Jeffrey Lance Abood, who is representing the Romain family, claims the FOIA requests were made in early January, and the law says he is entitled to the records within five working days from the request.

“What we’ve found so far leads us to believe this was a homicide and not a suicide,” Abood said.

The Ontario Provincial Police Essex County office said foul play was not suspected, and the medical examiner could not conclude whether Romain jumped or fell into the water.

The public safety directors of the communities being sued said Tuesday that they have turned over all the information requested.

“The FOIA was totally completed,” said Andrew Pazuchowski, director of the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department, which investigated the case. “We have no reason not to turn it over.”

Pazuchowski said the information was ready for pickup soon after it was requested, but no one came by to pick it up.

Daniel Jensen, public safety director for Grosse Pointe Farms, said: “We believe we’ve turned over everything we’ve had. … There’s no withholding of anything.”

In the lawsuit, the family is asking for the records, $500 in punitive damages and attorney fees.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Former U-M student involved in fatal crash pleads guilty by reason of insanity

A former University of Michigan student who caused a deadly crash on US-23 last March during what his attorney called a psychotic episode has pleaded guilty to criminal charges by reason of insanity.

Michael Kelly, 21, entered the plea to second-degree murder charges at a pretrial hearing earlier this month and was ordered committed to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry for a review that should be complete in May, records show. Kelly has been at the center for months and is improving with treatment, said Andrew Abood, his attorney.

Abood said Kelly is schizophrenic and suffered symptoms of his mental illness while driving his vehicle southbound on US-23 in Pittsfield Township on March 12, 2010. His vehicle crossed the median and went into the northbound lanes, where it struck two vehicles. Brandon Rapp, of Clay Township, died in the crash. The Eastern Michigan University graduate was 25.

Kelly, of East Lansing, was enrolled at the University of Michigan at the time of the crash.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Andrew Abood Speaks with Cheryl Fritze on WILS

Listen here:

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Jeffrey Lance Abood Named General Counsel of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce

BIRMINGHAM, MI/USA – The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce today announced the appointment of Lebanese American AttorneyJeffrey Lance Abood, Esq., to the position of General Counsel for the non-profit national organization.
“Jeffrey possesses an immeasurable quality of analytical abilities and the decision on the part of our Advisory Board of Directors to name him as General Counsel builds on our mission to recruit the most talented professionals within the Lebanese Chamber,” said President & CEO John Akouri. “Jeffrey has deep and proven experience in both business and non-profit law and his breadth of knowledge and experience will be a key advantage for our organization as we continue to grow the Lebanese Chamber nationally.”
Bred from a pedigree of proven lawyers, Jeffrey grew up in Missouri and attended Missouri Southern State University. Halfway through his undergraduate education, Jeffrey moved to Michigan to pursue his true calling of becoming a lawyer and practice law in Michigan. Jeffrey graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wayne State University and earned his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Jeffrey currently sits on the Criminal Justice Advisory Board of Wayne State University. Based out of Oakland County, he practices in the area of criminal defense, commercial transactions and litigation, divorce, civil litigation and handles cases before the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and Michigan Lottery Bureau

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2010 Woman’s Death Remains Mystery

GROSSE POINTE WOODS, Mich. — The 2010 death of Joann Matouk Romain remains a mystery one year after her disappearance.
The Grosse Pointe Farms woman was last seen January 12, 2010 at a prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church.
Her car, with her purse, wallet and cash inside were found in the church parking lot.
Investigators tracked footprints in the snow from the lot to Lake St. Clair, a short distance away.
The waters in the area were searched several times. No traces of Romain were found.
Then, in March, her body was found by fishermen in a channel of the Detroit River near Amherstburg, Ontario.
Two autopsies were conducted. Both concluded she died by drowning. Police suspect a suicide. Michelle Romain, the dead woman’s daughter, disagreed.
“We do not believe this was a suicide or an accident, that this was a murder, Romain said.
Jeffrey Abood is an attorney for the family. He said that although Romain was about to file for divorce, the idea of suicide does not fit.
“She was a very upbeat person. She was close to her family. She cared for her kids. She lived for her children,” Abood said.
Michelle Romain questioned police, who believed footprints in the snow leading to the river’s edge matched Joann Matouk Romain’s boots.
“There are no footprints on the pavement. There are only footprints across the street that look to be that of a large man’s boot,” Romain said.
Her family said Romain had told them someone was following her in the weeks before she disappeared.
Michelle Romain said the family still wants answers.
“We need closure and most importantly justice for my mom,’ Romain said.
Police said they are sympathetic to the family’s concern but add their investigations did not find evidence of foul play

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Grosse Pointe Woods woman didn’t kill self, family argues a year later

Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News
Bingham Farms— Family members of a Grosse Pointe Woods woman whose body was recovered from Lake St. Clair last year in an apparent suicide say they have evidence that points to foul play, including a torn purse and bruises on her arm.
Joann Matouk Romain disappeared a year ago today — Jan 12, 2010 — and was found dead near the Canadian shore two months later. Her Lexus sedan was found in the parking lot of St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church on Lake Shore Drive.

Footprints in the snow led from the car to the lake, where there appeared to be an impression in the snow of a person sitting on the water’s edge, authorities said. There were no footprints walking back to the car, police said.
“I’ve never believed it was suicide since day one,” said Michelle Romain, Joann Romain’s daughter. “And now we believe we have evidence to support what I’ve been saying.

“My family needs closure. We need justice.”

Romain made the remarks today at the Bingham Farms-based Abood Law Firm, which the family has retained to investigate the disappearance. They say don’t think Joann Romain committed suicide because she was upbeat and was planning for the future.
Grosse Pointe Woods police could not be immediately reached for comment today.
Romain’s brand-new purse had been torn and autopsies found fresh bruises on her left arm, family members said. Footprints that authorities said were Romain’s were probably made by a man’s boot and not the high-heeled boots she was wearing, they said. They also dispute the exact location of the parked vehicle police say she left behind.

“There are no tell-tale signs of suicide,” Andrew Abood said.
Jeff Abood, also an attorney with the firm, said two prominent forensic pathologists who conducted privately commissioned autopsies on Romain determined drowning was the cause of her death but couldn’t determine the manner of her death. One of the autopsies was conducted by Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz. The other was performed by Jeffery Jentzen at the University of Michigan.

Romain, a 55-year-old mother of three, was diabetic.

Investigators also found her purse, wallet and about $1,500 in cash locked inside the car. Her cell phone, keys and rosary were missing.

In the days after her disappearance, police searched Lake St. Clair with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and at least two dive teams from different county sheriff’s offices.

Her body was discovered by a fisherman near the shore of Amherstburg, Ontario, on March 20. Canadian authorities confirmed her identity through dental records

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Family wants to reopen death investigation

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (WXYZ) – The family of Joanne Romain does not believe police reports that say the 55-year-old committed suicide. They believe she was murdered.
Romain vanished in January of 2010. She was last seen near her car which was parked outside St. Paul on the Lake Catholic church in Grosse Pointe Farms. Volunteers searched for her along the shores of Lake St. Clair. Her body was later found in the Detroit River. Police believe she committed suicide by walking into the freezing waters.
A year after her disappearance, Romain’s family and their attorney say they’ve uncovered new evidence disputing the police theory of suicide. They say she left no footprints on dry pavement next to her car in the church parking lot where she was last seen. They also discovered other footprints across the street at water’s edge, footprints that could not have belonged to her. They also believe there were signs of assault and possibly attempted robbery.
“Her purse was found torn and ripped in the passenger seat of her vehicle. Additionally there were fresh contusions on her left arm, the arm that she generally carried her purse on. Those contusions were not familiar with the family,” says Jeffrey Abood, the family’s attorney.
Police say it would take compelling evidence to reopen the investigation into her death.
The family says Romain believed she was being followed prior to her death and even talked about hiring a bodyguard. Her daughter told Action News she has several suspects in mind and she believes people know what actually happened to her mom.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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SUPERIOR TWP: Officials looking to acquire vacant party store

By Adrienne Ziegler
Special Writer

Superior Township is exploring the acquisition of the Superior Liquor Store property on MacArthur Boulevard for use as a possible combination community center and library.

During a Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 20, township officials authorized their attorneys to explore eminent domain proceedings for the store, which was damaged by arson in July and has not re-opened.

“There’s a real defined public benefit or public use that we could be accommodating by acquiring that property,” said Township Supervisor William McFarlane. “We’ve been looking to build one of those or construct one for some time.”

But the township may not have to file an eminent domain claim if the store’s owners are interested in selling the property to the township, McFarlane said.

Jeffrey Lance Abood, the attorney for ZJM, Inc., the corporation that owns the party store, said they are looking into whether they would sell to the township.

“At this point we’re conducting our own private investigation. I’m discussing it with my client, whether this would be an option or not,” Abood said. “At this point we want to see what the township has to offer.”

Abood said he did not have an estimate of what the building is worth, but that it has several hundred thousand dollars worth of fire damage and a business could not operate out of it as it is.

The Superior Party Store has been a problem area for law enforcement for several years. In late July, arsonists severely damaged the store, and it’s been closed ever since. The owners of the property have not done any repairs on the fire-damaged building.

Last year, the store’s liquor license was suspended for four months after the Livingston and Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team purchased drugs from employees.

In 2008 and 2009, deputies received reports of shootings and armed robberies in the store’s parking lot.

McFarlane said the township would like to use the property as a community center that would allow for a multitude of uses, including as a voting precinct, a small sheriff’s station, a library, and community space for Superior Township Parks and Recreation.

Currently, the township has a library room located in the Harris Road Fire Department, but McFarlane said they are in need of additional space.

“It’s reported to us that … young people and residents have to wait a substantial amount of time to access the building because it’s so small,” he said.

The center could also be used as a home base for deputies working in the area, McFarlane said.

“It would be helpful to have a small police mini-station in the area where the deputies can still have a place to stop, get out, write a report, get back in the car and patrol,” he said.

Before the township moves forward with purchasing the property, they will need a certified, valid appraisal of the building.

According to Washtenaw County Records, the taxable value of the property this year is $54,874.00. Money to purchase the property would come from the township’s parks fund.

McFarlane said it’s too early in the process to know if they would use the existing structure or build an entirely new building, and there is no time frame set for the project yet.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Alumni start criminal justice mentorship program

A group of Wayne State alumni has started a program to help prepare students early for a career in criminal justice. The Criminal Justice Mentoring Program kicks off Oct. 7 at a meet-and-greet in downtown Detroit’s La Casa De La Habana, 1502 Randolph St.

The program, started by the alumni who are members of the Criminal Justice Alumni Advisory Board, is only for incoming freshman and is slated for the fall and winter semesters. The program is open to students of any major who are interested in a career in criminal justice.

DeShawn Brown, a freshman who signed up for the program, is undecided among majoring in criminal justice, political science or pre-law. Brown said he believes the mentoring program just may lean him toward criminal justice.

“I signed up for the criminal justice mentoring program because it’s an opportunity for myself to be introduced and surrounded by individuals who are familiar with the criminal justice system and field,” Brown said.

Jeffrey Lance Abood, criminal defense attorney and co-chair of WSU’s Criminal Justice Alumni Board, and LaSondra Dawn, academic services officer and advisor in the College of Education, are in charge of the new program.

Abood said the mentoring program came up in a discussion with the alumni board about what would have been beneficial to them when they were students at WSU.

“The primary goal of the program is to provide motivation for the students. I believe that,by being able to experience their desired career first hand and be guided by an expert in the field, the students will be motivated to excel throughout their education and ultimately their career,” Abood said.

The mentoring program will give students the opportunity to have meetings, at least twice a month, with mentors who work in the students’ desired fields. They will also be able to get advice from their mentors and shadow them at work.

“Students will have an opportunity to meet lawyers, police officers and other criminal justice professionals who will take time to support their interests. It will also help students relate their field experiences to what they are learning in the classroom,” Dawn said.

The Criminal Justice Alumni Board is expecting to have about 24 students in the first year. Officials said they are also looking to expand the program soon for all undergraduate level students.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Deputies take liquor inspections too far at Superior Township party store, attorney claims

Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies have recently conducted “warrantless searches and seizures” at The Party Store in Superior Township while claiming they were part of liquor inspections, the store’s attorney alleges.

Attorney Jeffrey Lance Abood mailed a letter Tuesday to Sheriff Jerry Clayton and other officials to inform them of what he calls “blatant misconduct” by deputies.

Police have recently conducted several liquor inspections at The Party Store in Superior Township.
According to the letter, the store’s owner, Ziad Abuziad, has been subject to “breathalyzers and body searches,” during which nothing illegal was found.

Deputies conducted the searches in front of customers without warrants and without consent, the letter claims, causing Abuziad to be humiliated. The inspections at the MacArthur Boulevard store began Jan. 24, a day after a man was fatally shot across the street at Sycamore Meadow Apartments.

“Not only were these searches beyond the scope of a liquor inspection, they had absolutely nothing to do with the standard liquor inspections or investigations,” the letter says.

The letter claims deputies are determined to shut down the business for the “sole reason that it is close to a high-crime neighborhood.”

Sheriff Jerry Clayton said this afternoon he will look into the allegations when he receives the letter.

“Our commitment is to improve the quality of life in the community,” he said. “We are more than willing to partner with the owner of the Party Store.”

Abood mailed copies of the letter to the governor’s office, state attorney general’s office, state Liquor Control Commission and state police headquarters. He attached detailed notes his client has kept regarding the inspections.

The letter says Abuziad is “willing to take a lie detector test in order to prove” the allegations.

It’s not the first time police have zeroed in on The Party Store.

Deputies targeted the store during a crackdown on crime in the neighborhood over the summer. Following a drug investigation, deputies obtained an emergency order to suspend the store’s liquor license in August.

That suspension was lifted in November after the store agreed to stop selling liquor at 10 p.m. each night and hire a private security guard to work from 5 p.m. to close.

Attorney Abood said Abuziad told him things had recently been going smoothly.

Kathran Rice, owner of Little Village Learning Center, a daycare center near the store, said Abuziad has cleaned up the place.

“There’s no more hanging out in front,” she said. “There’s no partying going on. It’s a lot better than it was.”

According to the notes attached to the letter, Abuziad claims things changed on Jan. 24, when deputies conducted the first of four liquor inspections.

During the inspections, Abuziad alleges deputies opened cans of baby formula, frisked employees and searched a jacket hanging in his office.

In one case, Abuziad claims a deputy went inside a bathroom to search it, but Abuziad was not allowed to follow him. When the deputy emerged, he had a small bag with a marijuana seed in it, Abuziad alleges.

In another case, Abuziad claims a deputy gave him a breathalyzer test, telling him the Michigan Liquor Control Commission asks them to give the tests.

Rick Perkins, the MLCC’s director of enforcement, said he was not aware of the commission asking deputies to give breathalyzer tests to licensees.

When MLCC investigators conduct inspections, he said they attempt to remain as “low-key” as possible so they don’t interrupt business.

They typically wouldn’t open products in a store during an inspection, he said. In addition, he said they “would not have any objections” to a licensee following them around as they conducted the inspection.

Asked about any recent violations at the store, Perkins said the MLCC received a report from the sheriff’s department that marijuana was found there. He said deputies are authorized to conduct inspections on their own.

“We’re not gonna dictate to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department how to conduct their inspections,” he said.

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Liquor license suspension lifted at The Party Store in Superior Township

Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies are hopeful The Party Store in Superior Township will partner with them to continue to cut down on crime in the MacArthur Boulevard neighborhood.

The state Liquor Control Commission lifted the suspension of the liquor license at The Party Store on Thursday.

An agreement was reached with the state attorney general’s office. The suspension will be lifted, provided the store stops selling liquor at 10 p.m. each night and hires a private security guard to work from 5 p.m. to close.

The Party Store in Superior Township has received permission to sell liquor again.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Derrick Jackson, the sheriff’s department’s director of community engagement, said investigators were never interested in “shutting down” the store, but simply “improving the quality of life” for residents. He’s waiting to see whether the store will work with deputies.

“We’re gonna continue to focus in that area and patrol in that area,” he said.

Deputies identified the store as a hotspot of criminal activity and investigated it for drug activity during a crackdown on crime in the MacArthur Boulevard neighborhood this summer. The license had been suspended since Aug. 16.

State Police Lt. Monica Yesh, who oversees the Livingston and Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team, said the investigation involving the party store is continuing.

Attorney Jeffrey Lance Abood, who represents the store’s owner, Ziad Abuziad, said the goal of the agreement is to work with deputies to reduce crime.

Township Supervisor Bill McFarlane is hopeful the presence of a security guard will help safeguard the area, but also is waiting to see.

“We continue to have concerns because of the allegations that warranted the hearing in the first place,” he said. “If they adhere to the law, there will be no problems. If they do not adhere to the law, there will be issues in the future.”

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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Owner of The Party Store in Superior Township failed to cooperate with police during drug investigation, complaint alleges

The owner of The Party Store in Superior Township “failed to cooperate” with police during a drug investigation this month, a complaint filed Thursday with the state Liquor Control Commission alleges.

The commission suspended the MacArthur Boulevard store’s liquor license in August after investigators say they made undercover drug buys inside.

According to the latest allegation, Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies visited the store Sept. 6 to investigate reports that a few customers used state-issued food stamp debit cards, also known as bridge cards, to buy “marijuana and alcohol,” a sheriff’s department report said.

The Party Store’s liquor license was suspended last month, and the store is now facing new allegations.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The cards are intended to be used to buy groceries and other food items.

When deputies arrived, an employee called the store’s owner, Ziad Abuziad, who told investigators if they hadn’t “seen anyone with drugs or alcohol,” they needed to leave, the report said.

When deputies told Abuziad they were allowed to be there, Abuziad said “he would find out and hung up,” according to the report.

Deputies asked an employee to call Abuziad back, and he told investigators he knew nothing about the allegations, the report said. He also said that if deputies thought the allegations were true, they should “make another raid,” the report said.

Abuziad apparently was referring to the execution of a search warrant July 31, when investigators say they seized an unregistered handgun, crack cocaine paraphernalia and drugs from an employee.

The sheriff’s office, which has launched a crackdown on crime in the neighborhood, submitted a report on the latest incident to the commission on Sept. 14, state officials said.

The commission canceled a hearing on the license suspension after the state Attorney General’s office issued the complaint Thursday. It’s the second complaint in about two months.

No other hearings have yet been scheduled.

Abuziad’s attorney, Jeffrey Lance Abood, who was notified of the complaint Friday, called it a “desperate move” to build a case against the store.

“It’s childish behavior on the part of the police,” Abood said. “By my client asking them what they’re doing in the store, it seems like their feelings got hurt and that’s why they brought this. This could constitute harassment.”

The sheriff’s department’s duty is to investigate reports of criminal activity, said Derrick Jackson, the department’s director of community engagement. The owner ordered deputies to leave the store, Jackson said.

“We have a duty to keep the community safe,” Jackson said. “If there’s criminal behavior going on, we’re going to investigate it. That’s not necessarily picking on someone.”

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

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MacArthur Boulevard: It was like the ‘Wild West,’ before crackdown, police say

Posted: Sep 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM [Sep 27, 2009]

Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Hause checks the pockets of a young man who was arrested after he allegedly violated a trespass warning at Danbury Park Manor.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

Veloise Cook was shot by a reputed gang member in front of The Party Store on MacArthur Boulevard in Superior Township, authorities say.

She fell to the ground with gunshot wounds to her chest and hip and felt an excruciating burning sensation in her leg, she said.

“I told you I’m going to kill you,” she recalled the shooter saying as he pointed the gun at Cook’s face.

“It was like everything bad I had done in my life flashed before my eyes.”

Veloise “Val” Cook shows how she protected her face when she was shot in front of The Party Store. She still has scars from the shooting. “That was a wake up call, ” she said. “Since then I ain’t been in no trouble.”

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

He pulled the trigger again, shooting Cook in the forearm as she shielded her face, she said. As the gunman and two fellow gang members ran, Cook was on the ground screaming and searching her pocket for her cell phone to dial 911.

“People walked past me and over me,” Cook said. “Nobody stopped to help me or nothing. They didn’t care.”

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton was fed up. Violence was becoming commonplace in the MacArthur Boulevard neighborhood, where calls to the sheriff’s department have nearly doubled during the summer months over the past five years.

Cook’s shooting June 12 and other violence – including an incident in which a bullet was fired into an occupied patrol car weeks later at an apartment complex – prompted police to crack down.

The department has worked with the township, managers of the neighborhood’s two major apartment complexes and residents to:

•Obtain an emergency order from the state’s Liquor Control Commission to suspend the The Party Store’s liquor license.
•Establish the MacArthur Boulevard Neighborhood Policing Team.
•Jail people who violate trespass warnings.
•Tow cars of visitors who don’t park in designated areas.
•Launch youth sports programs.

“It had to be a collective effort,” Clayton said.

In June, deputies responded to 174 calls in the neighborhood – mostly for fighting, loitering and other suspicious activity.

“Things were out of control,” said Sheriff’s Cmdr. Dieter Heren. “The good residents were scared to death. Shots were being fired on a daily basis. To some extent, it was looking like the Wild West out there.”

Suspending a liquor license

Central to their strategy, police say, was curbing criminal activity in and around The Party Store on MacArthur Boulevard.

The store has been a hotspot, according to deputies, who responded to 150 calls there in a 13-month span beginning in July 2008.

Ziad Abuziad, owner of The Party Store on MacArthur Boulevard, says a sheriff’s deputy held a gun to his head during a drug raid at the store July 31.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

At night, there’s a near constant flow of people to the store from Sycamore Meadow Apartments and Danbury Park Manor, the neighborhood’s two major low-income housing complexes.

Together, the complexes have about 1,000 residents. For many, the store is the only place in walking distance to buy milk and eggs.

But that’s not all the store’s selling, deputies said.

The county’s undercover narcotics team, LAWNET, executed a search warrant there July 31, looking for drugs. Undercover officers got the warrant after making four drug buys – two each of crack cocaine and marijuana – from employees inside the store in July, records show.

Officers seized an unregistered handgun behind the counter, crack cocaine paraphernalia and some bags of marijuana from an employee, state Liquor Control Commision records show.

Ziad Abuziad, the store’s owner, was behind the counter when he said a deputy he knows walked inside and ordered him to the floor at gunpoint that afternoon.

“He says, ‘On the ground, on the ground,’” Abuziad said. “He points a gun at my head for no reason. They know 100 percent I don’t have a gun.”

Abuziad told AnnArbor.com the gun seized doesn’t belong to him. Asked whether drugs were being sold out of the store, Abuziad said, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t drink,” he said. “I don’t smoke. I don’t do anything. If I sell drugs, why don’t they arrest me?”

The aggressive enforcement near the store is driving away customers, said employee KeAndre Graham, 18.

“People are just tired of the police posting up on here basically,” he said. “It’s just to the point now that don’t nobody want to come to the store.”

The emergency suspension order was issued Aug. 16 and was upheld six days later after a hearing, said Ken Wozniak, the Liquor Control Commission’s director of executive services.

Only two to three such orders are issued each year in the state because many communities fear lawsuits from licensees, officials said.

An unidentified man talks with KeAndre Graham (right), an employee of The Party Store who was taking a break. The store has temporarily lost its liquor license.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

“It can wind up in very extensive litigation, and a lot of communities don’t want to spend the money and effort on the litigation,” Wozniak said.

Abuziad said deputies were determined to win the suspension, which is expected to result in a 40 percent loss of business at the store.

The sheriff’s department submitted documents to the commission that say shots were fired June 25 from the store’s parking lot in an “attempted murder of two sheriff’s deputies,” records show.

The shooting actually occurred June 26 in a parking lot at Danbury Park Manor down the street, according to Derrick Jackson, the sheriff’s department’s director of community engagement.

Jackson said the report was a mistake, and deputies were investigating a different shooting at the party store.

Abuziad’s attorney, Jeffrey Lance Abood, who plans to fight the suspension, said he doesn’t know whether it was a mistake.

“With a police investigation, they should have the date and location correct,” he said. “This is someone’s livelihood at stake.”

Superior Township Supervisor Bill McFarlane is confident the suspension will reduce loitering at the store, which neighbors a daycare center and is near an Ypsilanti District Library branch.

“We do not want to see the liquor license going back there,” McFarlane said. “It aggravated the situation.”

Stepping up enforcement

The sheriff’s department has beefed up enforcement in the neighborhood, including establishing the MacArthur Boulevard Neighborhood Policing Team.

Deputies patrol in cars and on foot with no regular route or fixed schedule, aiming to catch criminals by surprise.

Four homicides have occurred in the area since 2004 – none recently – but deputies weren’t going to wait for a fifth.

“You have to be a realist that you’re not gonna stop crime,” said Deputy Eugene Rush, who used to patrol the area alone. “You’re not gonna stop people from doing bad things. You try to make a little bit of a difference. That’s the most important thing to me.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Eugene Rush looks over his notes as he speaks with a Danbury Park Manor resident who was in the car with a man deputies say was trespassing.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

Rush patrolled on a recent August night from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. He was on the lookout for a green van being used by the neighborhood’s “Duffle Bag” gang.

Members of the gang – at least a dozen total – were forcing their way into homes while residents were inside to steal items, Rush said.

While many adults and children greeted Rush by name, the turf has not always been friendly to deputies.

Two other deputies were in a patrol car leaving Danbury Park Manor early June 26 after responding to a disturbance involving 15 people when at least four shots were fired.

Deputies searched the area and found nothing. Hours later, they noticed the rear bumper of the patrol car had been hit by bullet.

“I was really, really upset about it because the rumors going around were they were trying to shoot at me,” Rush said.

While prosecutors have charged a man with shooting Cook in front of the store, no one has been charged in the patrol car shooting.

Many of the people causing problems in the neighborhood don’t live in the area, said deputies, who have been given power of attorney by the complexes to issue trespass warnings.

Rush and other deputies stopped a car at 6:45 p.m. that night being driven by a 20-year-old man they knew had never obtained a driver’s license.

The man was issued a trespass warning a week earlier, forbidding him from returning to Danbury Park Manor for 365 days.

“Who’s car is this?” deputies asked him.

“It’s my grandaddy’s car,” he said.

This time, the man was taken to jail.

Deputies twice responded to back up tow truck drivers. If visitors don’t park in designated areas, it costs $250 to pick up a car from the towing company and $170 for the company to drop it as it’s being towed.

Karley Bodis, 20, was visiting her boyfriend at Danbury Park Manor and started crying as her car was being towed at about 11:15 p.m.

Sheriff’s Deputy Eugene Rush looks for information on a computer while on a late-night patrol recently.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

“How am I supposed to get home?” she pleaded with one of the tow truck company’s employees. “You’re leaving with the car. Oh my God, this is awful.”

Deputy Kevin Hause attempted to keep things calm and later gave her a ride to pick up her car.

“I feel for you,” he said. “I’m sorry it happened to you, but we really have nothing to do with it.”

While enforcing the rules has brought growing pains, township officials like Treasurer Brenda McKinney say residents deserve a decent quality of life.

“They have the right to live there in peace and safety and harmony and not be bullied and not have their lives endangered,” she said. “People have a right to walk down the street go to bed at night and be safe.”

Making a difference

The campaign against crime has made life better in the neighborhood, according to about 20 residents interviewed at random by AnnArbor.com.

Charletta Bibbins, 28, a mother of two who has lived in Sycamore Meadow Apartments for 11 years, got a concealed weapons permit and carried a pistol all summer.

She needed one for protection when she walked to The Party Store at night, she said. Bibbins doesn’t carry the gun anymore.

“Since the police out here, I don’t have to,” she said. “Every time I walk, I see a deputy around the corner.”

Children play on a handrail as a man fixes a vehicle during a recent evening at the Danbury Park Manor apartments off MacArther Boulevard.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

Amelia Chaney, 49, who has lived in Sycamore Meadow Apartments for more than 15 years, was afraid to go to sleep during the spring, fearing someone would kick in the door.

“It was off the chain,” she said. “You had a whole lot of people out here drugging, selling, kicking in doors…It wasn’t safe to walk. It wasn’t safe to lie down. You didn’t know which way a bullet would come.”

Charles Sanders, 41, who recently moved to Danbury Park Manor with his fiancé and two young children, said his apartment was burglarized in May. His 60-inch flat-screen television was stolen.

“It’s getting better out here,” he said. “They police out here enough now. There’s nothing to worry about.”

Elaine Lindsey, 56, who recently moved to Danbury Park Manor, forbid her 4-year-old nephew from going to a nearby playground two months ago. Adults used to fight almost constantly in the street, she said. Now, she lets her nephew go out and play.

“It has calmed down a lot,” Lindsey said. “There was shooting out here and you just don’t see that anymore. There’s too many kids out here for that foolishness.”

Questions or Comments? Contact Clinton Charles Van Nocker at clint@aboodlaw.com

 


 

February 2011

Former U-M student involved in fatal crash ordered to trial, where he intends to argue insanity defense

A former University of Michigan student charged with murder for causing a fatal crash on US-23 last spring is heading to trial.

Michael Kelly, 21, formally waived his right to a preliminary hearing during a recent appearance in Washtenaw County District Court.

Andrew Abood, Kelly’s attorney, said he did so with the understanding from prosecutors that Kelly intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity when the case moves to circuit court for a pre-trial hearing next month.

Abood said Kelly, who is schizophrenic, was in the midst of psychotic episode when he drove his vehicle across the median and into oncoming traffic shortly after 4 p.m. on March 12 in Pittsfield Township.

Brandon Rapp, 25, was driving one of the cars Kelly struck and died at the scene.

Doctors at the Forensic Center of Psychiatry in York Township initially deemed Kelly incompetent to stand trial, but found his condition improved after further treatment.

Kelly, of East Lansing, was enrolled at the University of Michigan at the time of the crash. Abood said Kelly is doing well and remains at the center pending his next hearing.

Art Aisner is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at news@annarbor.com or 734-623-2530.

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Andrew Abood Interviewed on Fritz and Friends

Listen to the Interview at the following Link

http://www.1320wils.com/page.php?jock_id=9308&page_id=61469

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Andrew Abood Comments on his Role as a Member of the Civil Service Commission

Millions of dollars in taxpayers funds could be on the line if the Civil Service Commission has its way.

It’s a law that’s been in place since September.

That’s when the legislature decided all state employees will contribute 3% to retirement healthcare but today the Civil Service Commission overruled that law.

6 News spoke with both sides who each say they have the authority to make this decision.

Jase Bolger, House Speaker: “They don’t care about the rule of law and they don’t seem to care about the financial crisis nor the will of the people.”

House Speaker Jase Bolger says without employees paying that 3%, taxpayers are back on the hook for millions in retiree healthcare costs, which will only worsen the state’s financial woes.

Speaker Bolger: “It’s a burden placed on taxpayers that we have to address and we have to bring our expenses in order and they’re standing in the way, not only standing in the way– they’re exacerbating problems and making them worse.”

Andrew Abood, Civil Service Commissioner: “I’m not worried about the deficit, that’s not my charge, my charge is to make sure that state employees are treated fairly.”

Civil Service Commissioner Andrew Abood who introduced the measure says the legislature had no right to mandate employees to contribute the 3% in the first place.

Abood: “When the legislature decides to address compensation, they’re infringing on the constitutional authority of the civil service commission.”

Speaker Bolger: “We as a legislative body set the laws of the state of Michigan and they’ve chosen to completely ignore them.”

The Speaker says he’s is exploring his legal options for reversing the ruling; Something Abood says he isn’t worried about.

Abood: “They should, they should get good legal council and in fact have a judge take a look at this I’m confident it’ll be upheld in court.”

And if that’s the case, Speaker Bolger says that will leave taxpayers footing the bill for tens of millions of dollars in retirement healthcare costs.

The Michigan Civil Service Commission also rejected a 3% pay increase for non-union state employees on Wednesday.

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Abood in the News

 


 

January 2011

What does “Wrongful Death” mean?

Wrongful death is a term used in the civil context of the law when someone or something was the cause of someone’s death. The legislature has defined wrongful death as “the death of a person, injuries resulting in death shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another, and the act, neglect, or fault is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages, the person who or the corporation that would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages.”

In order to pursue a wrongful death claim, a personal representative must be appointed by the probate court who is then an authorized representative of the estate of the deceased. The personal representative is then the named party in the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased against the party that is responsible for the death. In a wrongful death action, damages include medical, lost wages, funeral, burial, pain and suffering, lost of consortium, loss of society and companionship, and loss of financial support and future earnings. Generally, the only other party that may be a Plaintiff is a wrongful death action is the deceased spouse who would have a claim for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is defined as the inability of the surviving spouse to have normal marital relations. A spouse is entitled to monetary damages for such a loss. A spouse cannot bring a loss of consortium claim on his or her own but must bring it as part of the spouses claim.

The Abood Law Firm is experienced in pursuing wrongful death claims on behalf of its clients. Abood Law Firm understands the importance of determining the cause and manner of death associated with a deceased and working with the family and estate to pursue a claim and maximize the return to the clients. Experts are often necessary in wrongful death cases to both examine the cause of death and assist in the calculation of damages. The Abood Law Firm regularly works with experts to assist its clients in proving the case against the at fault party.

Prior cases of the Abood Law Firm include a 32 year old mother who lost her life as a passenger on a motorcycle; 85 year old mother who died while in the care of an adult foster care home; a wife who was killed when the at fault driver ran a stop sign.

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Abood Law Firm Fights for Client Rights.

Operating While Intoxicated.

Defendant was arrested for suspected operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a misdemeanor. Jury Selection was conducted and the parties choose a jury trial date. The Prosecutor filed a Motion for Discovery and improperly cited the District Court to MCL 767.94a as authority for the Court to grant discovery of Defendant’s witnesses and exhibits to be introduced at trial.

Abood Law Firm responded to the People’s Motion by citing Supreme Court authority stating that MCR 6.201, not MCL 767.94a, controlled discovery in misdemeanor cases. Relying on the People’s wrong legal authority, the District Court, from the bench, ruled that Defendant was required to comply with the People’s discovery requests, specifically stating on the record that to the extent that there is a conflict between MCL 767.94a and MCR 6.201, that MCL 767.94a governed.

The District Court ordered that Defendant comply with MCL 767.94a and produce what the statute required. Abood Law Firm then filed an Emergency Motion to Stay Proceedings in District Court pending the outcome of an appeal of the Discovery Order, which was denied. Abood Law Firm filed an Application for Leave to Appeal, along with a Motion for Expedited Consideration, of both the District Court’s Discovery Order and its denial of Defendant’s Motion to Stay Proceedings. The Circuit Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Immediate Consideration, but denied Defendant’s Application for Leave to Appeal.

At trial, the People made an Oral Motion to deny Defendant the right to call witnesses or produce exhibits, which was granted. Trial proceeded without Defendant being able to produce a single exhibit or witness, the jury ultimately returned a verdict of not guilty on the charged offense of Operating While Intoxicated, but guilty of Operating While Impaired.

Shortly thereafter, Abood Law Firm filed a motion for a new trial. A hearing for this motion, the District Court opined that it had erroneously ordered discovery and granted a new trial for Defendant. The Prosecutor sought leave to appeal to circuit court, which was granted. The Circuit Court heard oral arguments, and thereafter, directed the parties to submit a post argument memorandum within 14 days.

The Circuit Court ultimately determined that “the District Court did not have authority to order discovery in defendant’s misdemeanor case” and that “the sanction imposed by the District Court which precluded defendant from offering any evidence was not warranted . . . because the order of discovery was not valid. The circuit court concluded, “[t]herefore, the District Court was right to recognize its error and order a new trial.”

The People have filed an Application for Leave to Appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Abood Law Firm filed its response and continues to work hard to ensure that our client not only gets a trial, but a fair trial as guaranteed to him by the Constitution.

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Abood Law Firm Saves Client’s Job

Operating While Intoxicated. According to Police Report, Defendant rear ended another vehicle that was stopped at a red light. The other driver informed officers that he observed Defendant toss a brown paper bag into his back seat. Officers recovered said bag and discovered open intoxicants inside. Officers administered a variety of physical and verbal field sobriety tests on Defendant, including the One Leg Stand, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, Rhomberg Test, along with an Alphabet and Counting exercise. Defendant submitted to a Preliminary Breath Test, which registered a .16. Defendant was arrested and transported to jail, where he submitted to an Evidential Breath Test (Datamaster), which registered .14 and .14.

Defendant retains Abood Law Firm. Defendant drove a bus for a living, a job that he had for many years and was making a good living. Along with the licensing sanctions imposed by the Secretary of State for a conviction of either Operating While Intoxicated or Operating While Impaired, a conviction of either would have resulted in Defendant losing his Commercial Driver’s License for a year, which would have ultimately resulted in loss of his job and livelihood.

Abood Law Firm resolves the case by getting the original charge of Operating While Intoxicated dismissed and Defendant accepts responsibility for Careless Driving, a civil infraction, pays a fine, and is able to keep his job. Client and his family were extremely happy.

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Abood Law Firm Gets Case Dismissed

Operating While Intoxicated

Early in the evening a police officer was dispatched to the parking lot of an establishment located in Okemos. A caller who was unknown to the officer reported that a woman appeared to be intoxicated. The caller elected to call the police when, according to him, he observed the woman’s engine start. The officer responded within minutes of the phone call and parked his vehicle behind the woman’s legally parked vehicle, blocking it in the parking space.

Although no witness had observed the vehicle move beyond its stationary position, including the officer, he proceeded to the driver’s side of the vehicle. According to the officer, the engine was running, but the vehicle was in park and the driver appeared to be asleep. Despite having never observed the vehicle in motion and being told that the Defendant was going to call for a ride home, the officer directed the Defendant to get out the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. After the field sobriety tests, she was arrested on a charge of Operating While Intoxicated. No one witnessed the Defendant operate a motor vehicle.

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Abood Law Firm Argues Justice Demands Client Be Permitted to Withdraw Plea

Operating While Intoxicated Second Offense & Operating While License Suspended Second Offense.

Defendant initially pulled over for allegedly having defective equipment, an exhaust that the officer felt was “too loud.” The officer ordered the Defendant from the vehicle and conducted the following field sobriety tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), One Leg Stand, and Walk and Turn. Defendant refused the preliminary breath test and was subsequently arrested. At the jail, Defendant submitted to an Evidential Breath (Datamaster) test. One test registered .09 and the other registered as a “refusal.” Reason unknown. Defendant entered a plea of guilty to OWI First Offense and Driving While License Suspended First Offense.

Thereafter, unhappy with his representation and plea, Defendant retains the Abood Law Firm to withdraw his plea. Abood Law Firm obtains the Police Report, Datamaster Logs, Preliminary Breath Test Logs, and Police Video Recording of the stop and Datamaster room, information, not all of which Defendant’s previous attorney even sought to obtain, and determined that Defendant had viable defenses that he was not informed of prior to entering his plea.

Abood Law Firm filed a Motion to Withdraw Plea, and the District Court, after a three day evidentiary hearing wherein Abood Law Firm raised errors in the original plea proceedings, zealously cross-examined the arresting officer and his improper administration of field sobriety tests and raised viable defenses with regard to the Datamaster machine, denied the Motion.

Abood Law Firm appealed said denial to the Circuit Court, which reviewed the transcript from the extensive three day hearing on Defendant’s Motion to Withdraw Plea. The Circuit Court reversed the District Court’s denial of Defendant’s Motion to Withdraw Plea. The Court ultimately held that the interest of justice required the Defendant be permitted to withdraw his plea and that the Abood Law Firm had raised meritorious defenses, including credibility issues as to the field sobriety tests and the Datamaster results. Client thrilled to be permitted to withdraw his plea and have his day in court.

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Family of JoAnn Romain marks a year with pledge to continue investigation

GrossePointToday.com
January 13, 2011

JoAnn Matouk Romain’s family marked the one-year anniversary of her disappearance with a vow to continue the investigation of her death, saying they’ve never accepted the police theory that she committed suicide.

Family members gathered at the Abood Law Firm in Bingham Farms on Jan. 12 to proclaim their belief that Romain did not park her car in the driveway at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church on Jan. 12, 2010, walk to the Lake St. Clair shoreline and throw herself into the shallow water. The search went on for days before it was called off. The body of the Grosse Pointe Woods resident was found March 20, snagged on debris far downstream in the Detroit River.

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2010 Woman’s Death Remains Mystery

Click On Detroit
January 12, 2011

GROSSE POINTE WOODS, Mich. – The 2010 death of Joann Matouk Romain remains a mystery one year after her disappearance.

The Grosse Pointe Farms woman was last seen January 12, 2010 at a prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church.

Her car, with her purse, wallet and cash inside were found in the church parking lot.

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Family wants to reopen death investigation

ABC Action News
January 12, 2011

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (WXYZ) – The family of Joanne Romain does not believe police reports that say the 55-year-old committed suicide. They believe she was murdered.

Romain vanished in January of 2010. She was last seen near her car which was parked outside St. Paul on the Lake Catholic church in Grosse Pointe Farms. Volunteers searched for her along the shores of Lake St. Clair. Her body was later found in the Detroit River. Police believe she committed suicide by walking into the freezing waters.

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