Monthly Archives: October 2010

Letter from Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Email from a Client

We love hearing from our clients, especially when we get emails like this one:

“[Colin], just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am for you helping me out and fighting for me. Thank you very much and have a great weekend.” – A.S.

Take it from our clients, we are your BEST DEFENSE when it comes to dealing with the criminal justice system.

Neil Rockind, P.C. is extremely experienced handling criminal cases of all types. If you or a loved one is faced with any type of criminal charge, civil infraction, license sanction, or an investigation by any policing agency, please contact Neil Rockind, P.C. at jmellas@rockindpc.com or call our office directly at 248-208-3800 to schedule a free consultation today!

Neil Rockind is a Voir Dire Master

Voir dire is the process by which prospective jurors, known as veniremen, are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being chosen to sit on a jury. It involves a discussion/question-and-answer period between the attorneys and the potential jurors, and allows the attorneys to formulate opinions and decide which jurors they would like on the jury and which jurors they would not like on the jury.

Yesterday, Attorney James Burdick, a fantastic lawyer and long time friend of Neil Rockind, discussed his thoughts regarding the best way to voir dire potential jurors. During the discussion Burdick pointed out the following:

“I learned [my current voir dire style] watching an outstanding local trial lawyer pal of mine, Neil Rockind, who I think you know. He developed it, refined it, and then I stole everything I could from him. Seriously, it’s great (and seriously, he’s always happy to share).

My old ways of ‘would you agree’ type questions always left me wondering more about the ‘good’ jurors many times. Neil’s way is really just having yet another “critical conversation” with the jurors, like in opening and closing. I think they feel more a part of it. The method requires reminding them repeatedly that ‘there are no right and no wrong answers, only answers.’ I think they open up way more, and you get more truthful responses. More cause charges as well…

I don’t think Neil’s ever had a judge (who allows any voir dire) object, and he’s been using this method for years.” – James Burdick

That is extremely high praise from a greatly respected trial lawyer.

Keep up the good work Neil!

Colin A. Daniels

Billionaire Infuses Effort for Legal Pot

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Only a few weeks ago, California’s prospects of becoming the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreational use couldn’t have seemed much higher.

A Sept. 30 Public Policy Institute of California poll showed the Proposition 19 ballot initiative leading by a 52%-41% margin a week after a Field Poll showed the measure up by seven points.

Now, with recent polls showing Proposition 19 rapidly losing support, billionaire fund manager, philanthropist and marijuana legalization advocate George Soros is coming to the rescue and donating $1 million for the closing campaign to pass the initiative.

“Our marijuana laws are clearly doing more harm than good,” Soros wrote in an opinion piece, “Why I Support Legal Marijuana,” that was published in Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal. His column and cash come after blistering attacks on Proposition 19 by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former national directors of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Although Holder said the federal government will “vigorously enforce” marijuana laws in California if Proposition 19 passes, current and former authorities argued that the mere act of paying taxes on retail pot sales permitted under the initiative would constitute admission of a federal crime.

But the Yes on 19 campaign began airing its first TV ad Monday. The spot, featuring former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara, declares that “the war on marijuana has failed” that that Proposition 19 “will generate billions in tax revenues” and “put drug cartels out of business.”

Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said Soro’s contribution to an independent committee supporting Proposition 19 will pay for increased airings of the McNamara ad and get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of the initiative.

“We’ve always said is going to be a close election,” Gutwillig said. “This infusion of resources will help us make sure that reform-minded voters get to the polls on Tuesday.”

via Detroit Free Press

Colin A. Daniels

An Important First Step Towards Eliminating “Snitch” Testimony

Texas, of all places and states, passes this law requiring that SNITCH testimony be corroborated before prosecutor’s can use it at trial.  This is an important first step in eliminating convictions based on SNITCH testimony.

Art. 38.075.  Corroboration of Certain Testimony Required 

   (a) A defendant may not be convicted of an offense on the testimony of a person to whom the defendant made a statement against the defendant’s interest during a time when the person was imprisoned or confined in the same correctional facility as the defendant unless the testimony is corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the offense committed. In this subsection, “correctional facility” has the meaning assigned by Section 1.07, Penal Code.

(b) Corroboration is not sufficient for the purposes of this article if the corroboration only shows that the offense was committed.

History:
 Enacted by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., ch. 1422 (S.B. 1681), § 1, effective September 1, 2009.

The Penal code section reads: 
 
(14) “Correctional facility” means a place designated by law for the confinement of a person arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense. The term includes:
      (A) a municipal or county jail;
      (B) a confinement facility operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
      (C) a confinement facility operated under contract with any division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; and
      (D) a community corrections facility operated by a community supervision and corrections department.

Judge Orders New Exam in Arson Case

The arson conspiracy case against Darious Morris — marked by the jailing of an official court reporter and the production of conflicting transcripts — was ordered back to Detroit’s 36th District Court for a do-over of the preliminary examination, a judge ruled Tuesday.

But the case, already months behind schedule because of the transcripts, still is on hold because the prosecution asked for a stay pending the possible appeal of Wayne County Circuit Judge David Allen’s ruling to the state Court of Appeals.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Abed Hamoud said redoing the preliminary exam is unnecessary because Morris waived his right to the exam after several witnesses testified.

“Are we in search of the truth or search of a transcript?” Hamoud asked, adding that the case likely will end up back in front of Allen.

But defense attorney Leland Garrett McRae said the case should be dismissed because of the flawed official record and what he says are efforts to cover it up.

Morris is in the Wayne County Jail on complex arson conspiracy charges, but his case stalled because court reporter Paulette Martin did not produce a transcript of the preliminary examination held in May. She was jailed in September for ignoring presiding Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny’s order to produce the transcript.

Eventually, Martin turned in two versions of the first volume of the preliminary exam — one version admittedly flawed.

Allen hoped to move the case forward once the lawyers had the second version. But, he said Tuesday, he learned from a Free Press article that Martin’s certification was suspended, rendering her new transcript unacceptable.

“Sometimes the judge is the last to know anything,” Allen told the lawyers.

McRae pointed out the second volume is invalid, too; it didn’t have the required certification, either.

via Detroit Free Press

Neil Rockind, P.C. is extremely well trained in matters involving Arson. The attorneys at NRPC have spent countless hours studying fire science and know and understand how to tackle the complexities of an arson case. If you or a loved one is faced with an Arson charge, or an investigation by any policing agency regarding such a charge, please contact Neil Rockind, P.C. at jmellas@rockindpc.com or call our office directly at 248-208-3800 to schedule a free consultation!