Category Archives: Our Voice – Op/Ed

Our Voice: Anthony Verdict Not Influenced By CSI Affect But By Lack Of Evidence

I just finished reading an article in The Oakland Press on the Anthony verdict and assistant prosecutor Paul Walton’s opinion that the CSI affect influenced jurors. I try a lot of cases. Every prosecutor gets up and asks “Does everyone realize that this is not CSI?” The prosecutor will then attempt an akward conversation in which he/she attempts to persuade the potential jurors that it is ok to find someone guilty based upon assumption, speculation and conjecture. Most juror’s want evidence. This means they expect the police to do a thorough and complete investigation, which includes gathering all the evidence there is to be gathered and testing the evidence that can be tested. I ask jurors “Some people want the police to do a minimal investigation, just enough to get a warrant, you know budgets are tight and we are in a recession. Others expect the police to do a thorough investigation, which includes interviewing all the witnesses, taking photos, fingerprint analysis, bullistics tests, etc, because that is what they would want if they were accused of a crime and were innocent. Who here is closer to the, we will call them “the minimalists.” Typically nobody will raise there hands. I then ask “who here is closer to the second group, let’s call them the CSI folks?” Everyone is in this group. Jurors want evidence. People’s lives are on the line! When prosecutors do their dog and pony show about this not being CSI what they are really saying is that “we don’t have a lot of the evidence that we could have and in hindsight should have if we are asking a jury to convict a fellow human being.

The prosecution in the Anthony trial tried to capitalize on the CSI affect with all their new science that apparently only impressed the media and themselves. The prosecutor laughing at the defense’s closing argument probably didn’t help their side, nobody really likes a pompous ass.

I finished a felonious assault trial yesterday, the jury was out two minutes before delivering a not guilty verdict. This happened mainly because the government charged an innocent man. They offered him a misdemeanor plea before trial which he politely declined. But the prosecutors know that most people can’t afford a competent lawyer for a jury trial, so even the innocent end up pleading to something.

I have a trial coming up with the Oakland county prosecutor on July 18, 2011. My client is charged with aggravated stalking. The accuser claimed that my client came to her house and rang her door bell and ran. The accuser claims to have seen my clients car from 50 feet away on a pitch dark night, she did not even get a license plate number. The accuser knows my client because she was/is a prostitute. The prosecutor filed a motion to prevent this information from getting before the jury, the judge denied it.

My point is that the Oakland county prosecutor’s office pursues a lot of frivolous prosecutions for which they are rarely held accountable. They allow and endorse shoddy police work and then beg juries to forgive them and their police departments lack of diligence. What they are really afraid of is juries getting smarter, more sophisticated, and their past refrain of “we represent the People of the State of Michigan, trust us” is falling on deaf juror ears.

Daniel@ambroselawgroup.com

If you have a question about a criminal charge contact Daniel Ambrose at (248) 624-5500

Ambrose Law Group

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Our Voice: Michigan’s Possession With Intent To Deliver Law, Unfair And Phony Charge

The criminal charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) is often a scam police and prosecutors use to make money for the government.  The government cannot apply forfeiture to a defendant’s property and money if they only charge the defendant with simple possession of marijuana.  So, they overcharge a defendant, who merely possesses marijuana with no intent to deliver, with PWID in order to justify the seizure and forfeiture of the defendant’s property and money.  To make matters worse, property and money unrelated to the marijuana offense may be seized as part of the forfeiture as well.

So, the question is, why would the government do this?  Because once they seize and forfeit the defendant’s property and money, they can keep it or sell it.  This “scam” of overcharging a defendant with PWID is nothing less than legal, government-endorsed extortion.

How does the government get away with this abuse of power?  Unfortunately, the legislature has not created a bright-lined amount of marijuana that a defendant must to possess in order to be charged with PWID.  This means the decision to charge a defendant with either just simple possession or PWID is completely left to the police officer’s and prosecutor’s discretion.  It should come as no surprise that they are often of the opinion that a defendant possessing even small amounts of marijuana for personal use was intending to distribute.

Of course a victim of this government-endorsed extortion has a right to contest the forfeiture of the property and money by posting a bond. Unfortunately, most forfeitures are not worth fighting because of the costs associated with attorney fees and time. This is why most people who are charged with PWID do not demand a trial and often plead guilty – out of fear and a lack of money.

This “scam” does not end once the defendant is overcharged with PWID. If the defendant does choose to go to trial, the prosecutor continues this abuse of power by having the police officer involved on the case recognized as an “expert” in street-level narcotics dealing.  The prosecutor then has the “expert” testify that the defendant was possessing with intent to deliver based upon the amount of marijuana in addition to other factors such as, a scale and packaging. This is bogus. It is common knowledge that marijuana, like everything else, is cheaper in bulk. So, of course, a heavy user is going to purchase in quarter or half pounds. Additionally, most heavy users purchase in quantity to ensure that they have an uninterrupted supply. The “expert” testifies that a heavy user will smoke 6 joints that weigh 0.5 grams a day, based upon post-arrest interviews.   The “expert” always says that marijuana has a shelf-life and that the quantity that the defendant had exceeds the shelf-life; therefore, the defendant must have been distributing. The officer can never give any definitive opinions as to how the marijuana has deteriorated or changed over its shelf-life, which most will say is 2 months, because the officer is NOT an expert! Of course, the “expert” will never admit to having smoked marijuana; so, all of his information is from interviewing people he has arrested.

People who purchase marijuana for their own use in bulk often own a scale to weigh their purchase so they do not get ripped off. So, contrary to the police and prosecutor’s opinion, a scale is not evidence of intent to distribute.  The greatest bias/lies these police “experts” tell are surrounding packaging. In my most recent case, the defendant had 5 ounces of marijuana in a gallon size zip lock bag. The officer said that the way it was packaged was indicative of delivery because the bag was too large to fit on the scale, it draped over the sides. Of course, if you tape the two ends together it easily fits on the scale. He also testified that the two smaller baggies that were with my client’s smoking paraphernalia were significant to the charge of PWID because together they weighed 28.3 grams, almost exactly an ounce (28.2 grams). Only on cross-examination did this police “expert” admit that the zip lock package weighed 12 grams, ruining his own theory.

The bottom line is that you can be charged with PWID if you have ANY amount of marijuana! Simply passing a joint to another person or just admitting that you did can get you prosecuted for PWID.  This is especially true in Oakland County.  So, be careful and remember to NEVER talk to the police!

Dan@ambroselawgroup.com

If you have a question about a drug-related charge please contact Dan Ambrose at (248) 624-5500

Ambrose Law Group

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Our Voice: The U.S. Constitution Does Not Apply to Michigan Residents

U.S. District Judge Orders State To Give Feds Confidential Marijuana Patient Records

I guess the U.S. Constitution does not apply to Michigan residents because U.S. District Magistrate Judge Hugh Brenneman Jr. recently ruled that the Michigan Department of Community Health must turn over the records of 7 medical marijuana patients at the request of the DEA, though such Federal action exceeds the government’s authority and pre-empts the State’s medical marijuana law.  The Michigan Department of Community Health previously refused to release information of medical marijuana users to federal investigators, citing patient confidentiality guaranteed under Michigan law.

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution understood the threat to liberty from concentrated political power, so they divided power not only among the three branches of the national government; but, they also divided it between the national and state governments.  Congress was delegated only a few defined powers – to use James Madison’s term – and the states retained all other powers by default. Specifically, the 10th Amendment says powers not delegated to the U.S. or prohibited by the Constitution are reserved to the states.  The U.S. Constitution does not expressly grant the government powers over medical marijuana. 

Any use of marijuana is prohibited under federal law.  However, current Michigan law protects individuals as long as they are acting within the boundaries of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.  Therefore, any attempt by the Federal government to arrest, prosecute or sanction an individual for acting within the guidelines of the State’s medical marijuana law is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, as such Federal action exceeds the government’s authority and pre-empts the State’s medical marijuana law.

Through this recent ruling, Judge Brenneman and the Federal government disregarded our State’s sovereignty by allowing the Feds to exercise authority that they do not have.  This ruling just turned the State of Michigan into a mere administrative subdivision of the national government.

Are you okay with this?

Samantha@ambroselawgroup.com

Contact Samantha Moffett at 248-624-5500 If you have questions regarding the use of medical marijuana and the law

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Our Voice: WXYZ’s Skewed Report Of Oakland County’s Judge Chabot

Judge Chabot is one of the most efficient judges on any bench. She is courteous to everyone who appears in front of her, both lawyers and litigants. Her docket runs efficiently. She seperates her criminal call between defendants who are on bond and those in jail. This is very helpful because in most courtrooms it takes 3 hours to do a 2 minute hearing. When the  deputies bring in the jailers it wastes an entire morning/afternoon. I have never had to wait more than 30 minutes in Judge Chabot’s. Perhaps she does fewer trials because she is better at helping lawyers reach common ground and resolution, which is more efficient for  the system in total. Judge Chabot is one of the most popular judges in Oakland County. Every attorney I know was very disappointed in Channel 7’s skewed report. You notice how there was no pictures of crowded court rooms and people waiting for the judge in the news story. Does anyone really care what schedule a judge works when they are getting there job done? It’s like they are punishing her for efficiency. Rae Lee Chabot is considerate, compassionate, and decisive. These are the qualities we all should want in a judge.

View Channel 7’s report here 

Daniel@ambroselawgroup.com

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REPUBLICAN REGIME IN MONTANA WORKS TO REPEAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA RIGHTS

Questions about who really benefits from medical marijuana are now gripping Montana. In the Legislature, a resurgent Republican majority elected last fall is leading a drive to repeal the six-year-old voter-approved statute permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes, which opponents argue is promoting recreational use and crime.  If repeal forces succeed — the House last month voted strongly for repeal, and the Senate is now considering it — Montana would be the first to recant among the 15 states and the District of Columbia that have such laws.

And unlike the situation in sunny California or Colorado, where medical marijuana has similarly surged, growing marijuana indoors is all but mandatory in Montana, a fact that has compounded the capital expenditures for start-ups and spread the economic benefits around further still. An industry group formed by marijuana growers estimates that they spend $12 million annually around the state, and that 1,400 jobs were created mostly in the last year in a state of only 975,000 people.  To read the full New York Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/us/06marijuana.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.

Is Michigan Next?

The situation in Montana is uncomfortably similar to that in Michigan.  Just like Montana, medical marijuana must be grown indoors, specifically in an “enclosed locked facility” under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.  This has created a whole new industry outside of the medical marijuana medicine and the medical marijuana plants.  Industries that provide needed equipment, supplies, education, consulting, and construction for the legal cultivation and possession of marijuana have experienced a whole new demographic of customers, which in turn has provided a much needed revival in Michigan’s economy.  There are undoubtedly more jobs, retail sales, and small businesses emerging from this new industry.

Unfortunately, this economic stimulus is not the only similarity Michigan has to Montana.  Last November, elections created a Republican political stronghold state-wide and Michigan’s new Republican Attorney General has made it no secret he disapproves of the medical marijuana laws.  State Representative Rick Jones has also used the issue to put himself again in the media spotlight.  He was represented at a legislative action committee I sit on relating to the problematic ambiguities with the marijuana law.  His office asserted his concern was Patients medicating and driving.  What I do not understand is how this differs from the concerns of people taking other medications or drinking alcohol and driving.  Actually, I do understand – there is NO difference.  Weak and off-topic scare-tactics used as an attempt to erode our rights to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical purposes should be stopped because the people have spoken through their vote in November of 2008.

So, what does all of this mean for Michigan?  Given a recent poll, voters still support the legality of medical marijuana.   Supporters of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act need to speak out.  Contact your State Representative to thoughtfully and respectfully express your continued support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan.

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Our Voice: MI Attorney General Says Marijuana Law Is Being Exploited

Michigan’s new Attorney General says the State’s medical marijuana act is being “exploited by those who really are making a mockery of laws across the state of Michigan.”  The law was intended to aid people going through an incurable illness or a very difficult disease, Attorney General Bill Schuette told 24 Hour News 8, in Grand Rapids. But, he said, it’s now being used by people who want to effectively legalize marijuana in the State.  The Attorney General made the comments in an interview early February before addressing the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police in Grand Rapids.

Critics charge that communities and companies are violating the intent of voters who passed the law in 2008.  But Schuette said there are forces out there trying to twist the law in the opposite direction and legalize drugs, something he said would be “a big mistake for our state.”

This is an interesting perspective for Michigan’s new Attorney General to have considering the PEOPLE of the State of Michigan support the State’s medical marijuana law by nearly the same margin by which it was adopted in the 2008 election, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.  The poll, conducted by Marketing Resource Group of Lansing, found that 61% of voters said they would vote yes again or would be likely to vote yes.  Support for 2008’s Proposal 1, legalizing the possession and use of marijuana for medical reasons, was 62.6%.

If the Attorney General is concerned that the medical marijuana law is being exploited because it is not going to people with “difficult” enough health conditions, shouldn’t he take this up with the State of Michigan’s licensed physicians who are the only people who have the legal authority to sign the Patient’s forms to allow them to receive medical marijuana?  Physicians are the gatekeepers of who is medically eligible to be a Patient; therefore, the gatekeepers of who will receive the legal status as a Patient.  The legal duty to assess whether or not an individual meets the health criteria to receive marijuana for medical purposes belongs to the physician alone.  When are law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and the Attorney General going to start holding the appropriate people responsible for “exploiting” the medical marijuana law.  It is certainly not the Patient’s burden to assess his or her own health.  The people who are making a “mockery of laws across the state of Michigan” (in the Attorney General’s own words) are the elected officials who are elected in order to represent and carry out the people’s will, which is clearly to ensure individuals protections when engaging the medical use of marijuana, not create a sense of fear and shame.

If you would like to know what Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth is doing to restrict your rights relating to medical marijuana, http://ambrosecriminallawblog.com/2010/12/06/samanthas-open-letter-to-department-of-labor-and-economic-growth/

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Detroit’s Violent Crime Down 8% Since 2009

The FBI releases statistics showing Detroit has seen a significant drop in violent crime this past year.

The number of reported violent crimes from January to June fell from 8,735 to 8,047, a 7.9 percent decrease. Homicides slid from 202 to 146 — a 28 percent drop — while robberies were down from 2,766 to 2,506, a decrease of about 9 percent.

Arsons were up 16 percent, from 292 during the first six months of 2009, to 339 over the same period this year. Rape also was up, from 181 to 200 — a 10 percent rise.

These are good statistics to hear but I still think about what happened to our client Reginald Burks and what an impact even one violent crime has on a family, especially at this time of year.

What do you think about the statistics? Do you feel safer visiting Detroit?

Holly@ambroselawgroup.com

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Samantha’s Open Letter to Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth

Dear DLEG,

You work for the State of Michigan, more specifically the public. You have been tripping up law-abiding residents in imaginary “red-tape” when applying to become a business structure. One excuse that has repeatedly come out of a DLEG supervisor’s mouth is “Federal law”. How much of your paycheck comes from the Federal government? I am guessing…ZERO. When did your department’s employees become Federal agents? I am guessing…NEVER. I am assuming your paycheck comes from the State of Michigan. That being said, I would appreciate it if you stopped using Federal law as an excuse to not process documents that are properly submitted, even if they relate to medical marijuana. The voters of Michigan spoke very clearly as the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act passed in November 2008 by over 60% of the vote. In fact, you can find the law right on the same government website your information is on. Since you have clearly had a hard time finding it, here is the link: http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-27417_51869_52138—,00.html.

Please, do your job. Process the documents that the people of Michigan send to you, cash their checks, and allow them to do what they have a right to do – start a business. I can confidently say that no one cares about your opinion on medical marijuana and related businesses. There are proper means to communicate your personal opinion on political and legal matters; and, I am thinking, it is not while you are at work for the public. Try voting or writing your State elected official, and maybe even join a club. I will make it a priority to do what is needed so that the Department of Labor and Economic Growth is barred from using “discretion” where there is none to be taken. The Department of Labor and Economic Growth is not to legislate nor is it to interpret the laws and then enforce them the way the Department’s employees personally see fit. Specifically, do what your website says you do: “The Corporation Division promotes economic development and growth by facilitating the formation of business entities in Michigan. The Division provides services that enable corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships to be formed, and for foreign entities to obtain a certificate of authority to transact business.”

Thank you.

Samantha Moffett
Business Consultant
Resident of Michigan
Registered Voter
Proponent of Exercising Rights

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Our Voice: The Working Law Student

When I tell most people that I am in law school I get the “Wow” response. Then when I tell them that I am working at a law firm too and I get the “Are you crazy?” response. When I first started, I was thinking the same thing. However, the more and more I do both, I realize that it is manageable.

Law School is hard. There is no way around it besides saying just that, it is HARD! If you think you can do what you did in undergrad and just skate by, you are crazy because there is no way. However, it is manageable and you just have to organize yourself and your time and realize that “thirsty Thursday’s” are over. It is not forever, and if you truly want this and want to become a lawyer, it is something you have to do, and really it’s not that bad. Also, if you can get a job in the same field as what you are trying to do, it is a tremendous help. It gives you first hand, an idea of what you are going to be spending the rest of your life doing. In a way, it makes school easier, because you are putting to practice what you are learning and so much more.

I have learned so much by working at Ambrose. I feel more prepared in class and I’m putting to practice what I’m learning about everyday in school.

Working and going to school is not for everyone. Sometimes it feels impossible to do both and you have decide if it’s worth staying in school a little bit longer to get that experience. Also, by working, you can pay off some of the large bills that you’ll start piling up.

In the end working and law school is a struggle (Especially with Exams right now!) , but worth the experience.

 

Kristen@ambroselawgroup.com


 

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Our Voice: Still Texting While Driving?

On July 1, 2010, Michigan’s law banning texting while driving went into effect.  And I sincerely believe that all distractions on the road can lead to catastrophic events for the driver in question, as well as anything or anyone that is in the zone of danger.  However, I do find this particular law to be quite curious.  Did they enact it because the legislature finds texting or emailing to be the most perilous task one can risk while driving?  Was it just to raise awareness of just how unsafe texting and/or emailing can be?  Or was it to jump on the bandwagon of the numerous other states that have passed similar laws? I pose these questions for several reasons.

The most obvious dilemma, and the most commonly discussed, is the concept of how the state plans to school police officers on discerning the difference between texting and dialing – because as we all know, talking on the phone, with or without an earpiece, is still legal in Michigan.  Personally, I can’t imagine how anyone without superhero laser-vision would ever be able to truly distinguish between the two. Technically, the law affords police officers the right to detain a driver for texting – even when there has been no other moving violation.  But what are they going to do?  Pull over anyone who is looking down and appears to be moving their arms?  I would imagine anyone who knows it is illegal would choose to keep the phone in their lap in the event they send a text.  And let’s say an officer did pull someone over for exactly that – looking down and moving arms.  They would first have to ask to see the cell phone.  Now, I personally, would not give my cell phone to an officer as the information on it is none of their business.  At that point, they could potentially obtain a search warrant.  If any officer went through all that trouble without the presence of another moving violation or personal vendetta, I would be shocked.  And either way, it takes about 2 seconds to erase a text for good – much longer than the time it would take to get that warrant.  After that, the only other way to obtain proof of a violation would be getting a warrant for the phone bill and subsequently searching it for a sent text at the exact moment the car was pulled over. And now the process has become plain ridiculous – especially without a violation of any other kind.

Another major issue is that aside from dialing and talking, there are countless other activities you can still do while driving – to the point that texting seems quite minor.  For instance, you can still eat a sandwich, drink a soda, spill a soda and clean it up, apply a full face of make-up, check your Facebook page, play video games, type addresses into your navigation system, polish your nails, read and jot down information from a billboard, and listen to your iPod with or without headphones.  With this in mind, a ban on texting alone sounds nonsensical. Perhaps tighter rules on careless driving in general would have been more practical.  A sounder solution may have been following in the footsteps of the city of Troy where the “no distractions law” within its city limits makes all of the aforementioned activities illegal.

Personally, I agree with Troy.  Although we all do it, none of us should consciously partake in any activity while driving unless there is a life-threatening emergency.  The possibility of harming or killing yourself or others is hardly worth any of it.  But most people aren’t thinking about these risks in the heat of the moment.  We all think driving is mindless, so why not eat a quick burger while racing to an appointment? If Michigan truly wants to diminish the amount of accidents caused by careless driving, it will need to re-evaluate all of the root causes as opposed to solely focusing on the near impossible task of fining a texting driver.  Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later.

Christa@ambroselawgroup.com

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