Neil Rockind in the News

Lawyer says client’s rights were violated in drug bust

A judge granted a defense attorney’s request Thursday for a hearing to determine if police violated his client’s rights when they seized marijuana from his home in December 2011.

Southfield attorney Neil Rockind is asking a Livingston County judge to dismiss the felony charges against his client, Dennis Keith Towne, because he says police violated his client’s rights by crossing into the curtilege around his home.

The issue was argued at the District Court level, and after hearing testimony, Judge Carol Sue Reader bound the case over to Circuit Court. Rockind now wants Circuit Judge Michael P. Hatty to quash Reader’s bind-over.

“I think you will see she made the wrong call and without all the evidence,” Rockind said.

At the March preliminary hearing, the defense did not present any witnesses, which is standard. However, Towne and his wife are expected to testify at the Feb. 26 evidentiary hearing, which will determine if police violated Towne’s Fourth Amendment rights by entering the curtilage.

Curtilage is a legal term for the area surrounding and associated with the domicile where the owner may have an expectation of privacy. Courts have disallowed evidence when they find an officer’s movements violate the curtilage of a defendant’s home.

Towne, of Hamburg Township, is charged with delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance.

A Michigan State Police trooper testified at a March hearing that officers went to Towne’s home in the 6500 block of Cunningham Drive in December 2011 because they were looking for the defendant’s son, who was wanted on an unrelated 10-count felony complaint.

The trooper said he began to see “an excessive amount of smoke coming from the chimney” as officers staked out the home after learning from Towne that his son was not there. He said the smell of “freshly burned marijuana” began to fill the air.

The trooper said he then saw Towne “literally shoving handfuls of marijuana into a fire.”

Officers immediately entered the home by breaking a window, and once inside found an 18-gallon plastic tote about one-quarter full of “processed marijuana” as well as 50-100 live plants in the basement, according to testimony. The marijuana — from seeds to full-grown plants — were found throughout the house, including in a toilet, the trooper said.

Authorities said they seized 75 marijuana plants along with 41 bags of marijuana and marijuana suckers that amounted to “pounds” of the illegal drug.

Meanwhile, the prosecution also wants the judge to consider a motion that prohibits the defense from mentioning medical marijuana at the trial.

Rockind said he will file a response arguing Towne is immune from prosecution under under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

via Livingston Daily

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