2015

December 2015

Ingham County’s public defender system–one of the nations worst? Andrew Abood says it is indeed.

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Ingham County’s public defender system–one of the nations worst? Andrew Abood says it is indeed.

 

November 2015

Congratulations, Jeffrey Lance Abood

Thanks to the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys and Dr. Lance A. Platt, Jeffrey Lance Abood completed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration / International Association of Chiefs of Police Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Practitioner Course.

 


 

October 2015

Client Review

Review

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From my desk…

Sometimes simple conduct, even when intentions are good, can be against the law. This principle is often articulated when a client utters the phrase “but all I did was…” or “I didn’t mean to…”  Most defense counsel nod with empathy in these situations.  Seasoned attorneys are able to explain the legal implications to a client whose conduct may have been simple, and intentions good, but still against the law.  It is often the difficult part of the job, to explain to good people how he or she may have violated the law.   But this is the job of a criminal defense lawyer.

An opportunity exists for local defense counsel to explain to the district courts of Ingham County and to the Ingham County prosecutor’s office how their decision to create an order for the distribution of forensic interviews is a simple act with good intentions, but violates the law.

Here is what appears to be the background:

Our legislature passed a series of laws in the 1960s through 1980s that protects minors making accusations against adults for sexual assault. In those circumstances, the police procedure is to conduct something called a forensic interview. MCL 600.2163a prohibits the distribution of the forensic interview, even to defense counsel, unless certain circumstances are met. Once in receipt of the forensic interview, defense counsel could very easily violate the law if defense counsel doesn’t comply closely with the Statute.

In order to protect the prosecutor’s office, to place defense counsel on notice, and to expedite distribution of the forensic interview to defense counsel, a generic, fill-in-the-blank order was entered by the judges of Ingham County’s district courts. It was signed on March 7, 2013 by the chief Judges of 54A, 54B and 55th. The order apparently had no docket number or fixed caption. The blank order was then given to the prosecutor’s office to be used in cases involving forensic interviews.  To the best of this defense counsel’s knowledge, a similar order was not given to the defense bar.   In any particular case, apparently with the chief judges’ signatures and pre-approval, the prosecutor then fills out the caption and the docket number and serves it on the defense counsel with the forensic interview. Presumably the prosecutor also files the Order in the file with the court clerk.

There are several problems with this process.  In my opinion these orders constitute ex parte communication. It is improper and potentially unethical for a judge to have ex parte communication with one side or another absent extenuating circumstances. A pre-signed order from a judge in the pocket of the prosecutor to be doled out at the prosecutor’s discretion with no notice or input from defense counsel appears to be the very definition of ex parte.   Even if it isn’t ex parte, because the chief Judge may not be the Judge assigned to the case, this process gives the appearance of impropriety — something Judges in particular are obligated to avoid.

The Impropriety arises because the cornerstone of our system of justice is based on an unbiased, independent, and objective party making decisions based on the law and facts of a particular case. When a judge gives a pocket order to the prosecutor to be used whenever the prosecutor deems appropriate, it undermines the very premise of the objective and unbiased exercise of discretion that we rely on from our judges.  More importantly, Judges were elected to be the ones to enter orders on a case by case basis, not the prosecutor.  By giving the prosecutor the form order to enter at will is an abdication of a judge’s responsibility.

Beyond the ethical issues, there are legal problems with this process as well.  Under Michigan law, there are three ways to have an order entered. As set forth in MCR 2.602, an order is entered by stipulation of the parties, after a hearing in which the written order comports with the Court’s ruling, or under the 7-day rule. Here, the pocket order that the prosecutor has been gifted, is in violation of these well-established court rules because there has been no hearing, no stipulation by the parties, and no formal ruling by the court. Furthermore, there is no authority for a chief judge to enter a substantive order in a case to which the chief judge was not assigned. A chief judge has limited authority to administer the Court under MCR 8.110. The chief judge is not an appellate judge of his or her colleagues and does not have authority to overrule a court over which the chief judge is chief, unless the issue is one of refusal. So, under most circumstances, an order issued by the chief judge and presented in another judge’s court has no binding effect over another judge’s case.

The simple solution is that when forensic interviews are in question, the Defense counsel simply needs to file a Motion to request the Interviews.  Presumably, since the prosecutor has the pocket order, it wouldn’t have an objection to the Motion and the court can enter the Order — the Court that has actually been assigned the case — as opposed to the chief Judge may not have been assigned the case.

Given the circumstances, the law, and well-established procedure, we as a defense bar have an obligation to do the very thing we were trained to do — and something that most of us do on a regular basis — that is to explain to the prosecutor’s office and to the courts that this order should be rescinded.   To simply accept that the prosecutor should be entitled to dole out a pocket order to be entered as it deems fit, without objection from the Defense counsel is an abdication of our duties (the Defense bar) and to the administration of justice.

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Former employees, Isaiah Dahlman and Genna Fasullo, are going on to bigger things!

Genna Fasullo, former Law Clerk for the Abood Law Firm, was offered a job with the State Attorney’s Office in Marion County, FL (Ocala, FL) as an Assistant State Attorney to officially begin her career!

Isaiah Dahlman, Administrative Assistant at Perrigo Company plc and former legal assistant at the Abood Law Firm, has been hitting the road and meeting with manufacturers that he is pursuing to work with in regards to a product the company is looking to add to their pipeline. In this case, the product has received attention from their international teams, who have also become interested in the project, leading the company negotiating worldwide rights. This would be the first of its type for a development project at Perrigo.

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Printed in Pink

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in support all those who lived with, died because of, or are at risk for Breast Cancer, the Abood Law Firm’s pleading will be printed in pink.

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Andrew Abood Attends the 2015 ACCT Leadership Congress

Andrew Abood is attending the 4 day 2015 ACCT Leadership Congress in San Diego, California as a trustee for Lansing Community College. He continues to learn how other colleges are dedicated to lowering the costs of higher education by the reducing the costs of books through OER and other online free resources.

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The annual rivalry is coming!

Do you really need a hype video? It is Michigan vs Michigan State, for God’s sake.

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Andrew Abood Attends NACDL & NCDD DUI Seminar

Andrew Abood attended NACDL & NCDD’s 19th Annual DUI Seminar- ‘DWI Means Defend With Ingenuity’as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the US at the Bellagio Hotel located Las Vegas, Nevada. The seminar was a three day program on defending OWI cases and is one of the top two attended programs for NACDL, along with the 8th Annual Drug Seminar- ‘Defending the Modern Drug Case’, for the second year in a row. Attendance to programs like these are just one of the many ways the Abood Law Firm is committed to perfecting its craft.

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Abood Law Firm Joins National Moment of Silence for Umpqua Community College

The Abood Law Firm joins the American Association of Community Colleges for a national moment of silence in the memory of victims of last week’s tragedy at Umpqua Community College. ‪#‎IamUCC

 


 

July 2015

Ingham County Bar Association Golf Outing 2015

We don’t always play in golf outings, but when we do, we win. – Bob Fossum, Jeff Abood, Sam Abood

Ingham County Bar Association Golf Outing 2015

 


 

June 2015

US Supreme Court Legalizes Same Sex Marriages

For all those people who have suffered, died, struggled, and been denied — Your day has come. Today marks a day where love triumphs. Every person, every couple, every family shall be treated the same. The decision might not have been unanimous at the Supreme Court, but it was at the Abood Law Firm.
“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.”
The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled today, June 26, 2015 that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation, to get married. The Court held that the 14th Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.
In closing, Justice Anthony Kennedy eloquently stated:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to finds its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of the civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.