What Is Your Experience In Handling Criminal Defense Cases For Clients In Michigan?
I started my career as a prosecuting attorney in Macomb County, one of the largest counties in Michigan. I was the Chief Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) Prosecutor, which meant that I handled all of the criminal sexual conduct cases involving children and special needs adults, and was in charge of that unit.
During my time as a prosecuting attorney, we found that probation was failing, even back then. We noticed that once a defendant was put under supervision or on probationary status after they were convicted, there was a high rate of recidivism and supervision/probation/probation violations. We believed that this was largely due to a complete lack of education by the courts and the defendants, and a complete lack of good communication between the probation officers, the defendants, and the outside agencies and professionals (for instance, counselors) that were trying to correct behavior and set defendants up for success.
Since leaving the prosecutor’s office, I have built a successful criminal law practice representing thousands of people accused of crimes for the past 28 years. In that time, I noticed, and I continue to notice, a breakdown in communications between our convicted defendants and convicted defendants that have successfully gone through probation without violations.
A few years ago, I had 6 clients on probation who overdosed on heroin in a short 18-month period. Quite frankly, I was sick to my stomach in having to attend the funerals of people I had grown close to as clients over the years. This motivated me to take a really close look into why defendants who were on some sort of court supervision—especially for substance abuse—either wind up failing out of probation or ultimately presenting with other negative outcomes, such as relapsing, overdosing, and dying.
To further that investigation, I put a research group together with the help of several judges, probation officers, court administrators and other attorneys. We concluded that there was a complete lack of communication between defendants on any kind of court supervision—whether it’s for substance abuse, assault crimes or anything else—and the other parties involved in pre-trial and probation supervision. We found that the prevalence of negative outcomes was tied to a lack of communication with the court and with outside agencies that would help provide support (i.e., drug testing, therapy programs, educational programs, ect.), that can help the defendant change their behavior.
We also found that the courts themselves were very antiquated. They’re still working within the 1900s ideas of paper control mechanisms that clog up the clerk’s departments in both civil and criminal matters. We needed to bring the courts into the 21st century!
As such, there is a complete bottleneck of paper information that prevents agencies, service providers, the courts, probation officers, and probation defendant-clients from communicating. Oftentimes, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Agencies often don’t what happened in court or what was established as parameters of their involvement to help the defendants during their supervision or probation case.
To address this issue, we came up with what we discovered was a great solution to try and digitize most aspects of the court process involving criminal defendants, both in pretrial supervision and post-conviction supervision.
Why Is It Important To You That More People Go Through The Probation System Successfully In Michigan?
I am an experienced criminal lawyer who has prosecuted and defended approximately 10,000 clients through the years. I have represented both the people of the State and accused defendants that were charged with anything from speeding tickets to rape, murder and terrorism.
One of my main prerogatives is to ensure that my clients—who in many cases has been accused unfairly and/or treated unfairly by a governmental system—has some type of access that they find is fair and just. So, when you have a defendant that overdoses or kills themselves while they are on supervision, you have to find some kind of solution that, if nothing else, can save their life.
Many times, defendants do commit a crime and they are fairly charged with that crime; other times, they’re falsely accused and need a defense so that someone can protect them from not just the government, but from their accusers desire to see them locked up. But in all situations, anybody accused of a crime—rightfully or wrongly—deserves fair access and treatment by the courts, the government and their accusers. This fair access and treatment was an area that I really felt was lacking, and was looking to address directly. Even if it’s just a matter of increasing communication with the defendant while they are on supervision, so that they understand what the terms of the program are and the expectations being set for them every day. That alone is a great leap into the 21st century for some of the courts. This way, the courts can also offer additional support to people who are really struggling and take the easy cases off their supervision plate.
That’s where the CourtWorks supervision program can easily come into play.
For more information on Handling Criminal Cases In The State Of MI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (800) 710-0529 today.