Monthly Archives: March 2013

Another Successful Week at Neil Rockind, P.C.

After pulling off two (2) not guilty verdicts in two (2) cases in a row, including one that defied all odds, we didn’t know what to expect for this week.  We still had a lot of work to do on other cases and each was important to us.  In each case, a client needed us to  save him/her from doom.  Again, I am proud to say that we delivered:

1. In a Conspiracy to Commit A Legal Act in an Illegal Manner, Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana and Delivery of Marijuana case, we secured an agreement that our client would be sentenced to probation and be spared jail, this despite his criminal record and the unsettling facts of the case;

2.  In a case involving two (2) counts of Delivery of Synthetic Cannabinoid, a case that garnered a lot of media attention and publicity, we not only obtained a dismissal of one of the counts in the case but put together a convincing sentencing package so much so that the client obtained a probationary sentence.  This was not as easy as it sounds: a defendant in a similar case represented by another lawyer got 6 months in jail for the same offense.  We were proud to obtain that result but prouder still that we helped a co-defendant in our case get his conviction for Delivery of Synthetic Cannabinoids taken under advisement.  Taken together, our clients ended up with 1) probation and 2) (the other) under advisement to be dismissed, a far cry from the incarceration that another of the accused received;

3)  In another high profile case involving a developmentally challenged 20 year old who had sexual relations with an advanced 14 year old (1 day shy of her 15th birthday), we engineered an agreement and sentence wherein the client will obtain probation and application of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act to his case.  This young man, who was involved in a consensual sexual relationship with the young woman, will be spared from sexual registration and from a criminal record.  We saved his life;

4)  In still another case, Neil Rockind continued the fight for a Livingston County man whose constitutional rights were violated by the Michigan State Police.  On this date, Rockind and Colin Daniels filed a 25 page Suppression Memorandum with the court and continued our extraordinary cross examination of police witnesses.

There other success stories as well.  We continue to outdo ourselves in defense of our clients.

The Neil Rockind Show, circa 2007/08

Did you know that Neil Rockind used to have his own radio show?

I managed to get ahold of 2 recordings of his past shows. Take a listen – the links are below.

Rockind Radio 12.22.07 Hour 1

Rockind Radio 12.22.07 Hour 2

Rockind Radio 01.05.08 Hour 1

Rockind Radio 01.05.08 Hour 2

Kelsey’s Law Goes Into Effect Today – Tell your teens to put away their phones while driving

A law banning teen drivers from using the phone while driving goes into effect Thursday, March 28.

Kelsey’s Law is named in memory of Kelsey Raffaele, who died in a cell-phone related crash in Sault St. Marie in the winter 2010.

The law bans teens with level one and level two licenses from talking on the phone behind the wheel. Level one license holders must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or another driver at least 21 years old. Level two licenses allow driving alone with limits on hours and the transport of young passengers.

Violating the law will result in a civil infraction to be determined at the local level. No points will be assigned to the driver’s record. Drivers will still be allowed to use a vehicle’s integrated hands-free phone system or report an emergency with a cell phone.

The Oakland Press turned to its Facebook users for reactions to this law.

Wes Borucki said the law is only as effective as the entity enforcing it.

“A law makes the politicians and emotion-driven voters feel good, but it doesn’t mean a thing if enforcement doesn’t happen.”

Deborra L Swain said that just like other laws on the books that are often broken, some teens could simply ignore this one.

“Kind of like that “Don’t drive drunk” law,” she said. “And most teens are addicted to those cell phones. They might make it a law, but these ‘cell phone addicts’ will not obey that law, just like drunks don’t follow the law.”

Several readers backed this up with examples of Troy’s ban of cell phone use while driving, saying that though the law is in place, they still see drivers talking and texting away.

 

Several readers said the law banning cell phone use while driving among teens should not be limited to just that demographic.

“Shouldn’t this be for adults too?” Andrew Tingley said. “Maybe the youth of the day do it more, but I’ve seen and almost been hit by plenty of adults too.”

Reader Melissa Duncan said anyone who can’t perform basic multitasking shouldn’t be operating a phone while driving, period.

“If you cannot chew gum and walk at the same time, then you certainly should not be chatting on a cell phone while driving,” she said. “And this does not just go for teenagers!

“I see way too many people on the roads either chatting it up or texting while driving like morons,” she added. “I guess it will take an accident for it to get through some people’s heads!”

Paul Vedout said this law is probably directed at the wrong demographic in general.

“A lot of people aren’t going to want to hear this, but teenagers growing up in this generation are better at multi tasking things like talking on the phone and driving than their parents,” he said. “Nine out of ten times when I see someone swerving all over the road or holding up traffic, they are over 40.”

Victor Hillebrand disagreed with this line of reasoning.

“Their ability to multi-task is why teens as a group have higher accident rates and cost more to insure,” he said.

Some users prefer a more overarching approach to the issue, such as a law banning cell phone use among all age groups while driving.

“This law unjustly singles out a group based on their age,” said Owen Veighey. “Talking on the phone while driving should be illegal for everyone.”

via The Oakland Press

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws

On July 15th, 1995, in the quiet Southern California city of Whittier, a 33-year-old black man named Curtis Wilkerson got up from a booth at McDonald’s, walked into a nearby mall and, within the space of two hours, turned himself into the unluckiest man on Earth. “I was supposed to be waiting there while my girlfriend was at the beauty salon,” he says.

So he waited. And waited. After a while, he paged her. “She was like, ‘I need another hour,'” he says. “So I was like, ‘Baby, I’m going to the mall.'”

Having grown up with no father and a mother hooked on barbiturates, Wilkerson, who says he still boasts a Reggie Miller jumper, began to spend more time on the streets. After his mother died when he was 16, he fell in with a bad crowd, and in 1981 he served as a lookout in a series of robberies. He was quickly caught and sentenced to six years in prison. After he got out, he found work as a forklift operator, and distanced himself from his old life.

But that day in the mall, something came over him. He wandered from store to store, bought a few things, still shaking his head about his girlfriend’s hair appointment. After a while, he drifted into a department store called Mervyn’s. Your typical chain store, full of mannequins and dress racks; they’re out of business today. Suddenly, a pair of socks caught his eye. He grabbed them and slipped them into a shopping bag.

What kind of socks were they, that they were worth taking the risk?

“They were million-dollar socks with gold on ’em,” he says now, laughing almost uncontrollably, as he tells the story 18 years later, from a telephone in a correctional facility in Soledad, California.

Really, they were that special?

“No, they were ordinary white socks,” he says, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. “Didn’t even have any stripes.”

Wilkerson never made it out of the store. At the exit, he was, shall we say, over­enthusiastically apprehended by two security officers. They took him to the store security office, where the guards started to argue with each other over whether or not to call the police. One guard wanted to let him pay for the socks and go, but the other guard was more of a hardass and called the cops, having no idea he was about to write himself a part in one of the most absurd scripts to ever hit Southern California.

Thanks to a brand-new, get-tough-on-crime state law, Wilkerson would soon be sentenced to life in prison for stealing a pair of plain white tube socks worth $2.50.

Continue reading

Divided Supreme Court Hinders Cops’ Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday gave notice to the nation’s law enforcement officials that they generally need search warrants to employ drug-sniffing dogs outside a home to detect whether drugs are inside.

The case decided 5-4 involving a suspected Florida drug dealer limited the government’s ability to intrude into the home and was a blow to police. Law enforcement officials told the justices that the practice was “widely used,” and wanted the high court to sanction warrantless dog-sniff searches as the high court has for airport luggage or vehicles stopped during routine traffic stops.

A private residence, and the “curtilage” surrounding it, is another story and is protected by “ancient and durable roots,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority.

“But when it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals. At the Amendment’s ‘very core’ stands ‘the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion,’” Scalia wrote, (.pdf) quoting a 1961 high court decision. “This right would be of little practical value if the State’s agents could stand in a home’s porch or side garden and trawl for evidence with impunity; the right to retreat would be significantly diminished if the police could enter a man’s property to observe his repose from just outside the front window.”

At least 18 states warned the Supreme Court that, should it rule the way it did, the outcome would imperil “a widely used method of detecting illegal drugs.” (.pdf)

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the majority’s decision is based on thinking “that is nowhere to be found in the annals of Anglo-American jurisprudence.”

Alito said those growing marijuana inside their homes have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

“A reasonable person understands that odors emanating from a house may be detected from locations that are open to the public, and a reasonable person will not count on the strength of those odors remaining within the range that, while detectible by a dog, cannot be smelled by a human,” he wrote.

The case concluded Tuesday stems from a Florida Supreme Court ruling in which Florida’s top courttossed evidence of 179 pot plants (.pdf) that Miami-Dade County authorities seized from the residence of Joelis Jardines in 2006. Authorities made the bust after a trained dog “alerted,” or indicated that it detected drugs, while outside the home. Police were acting on a tip, and did not have a search warrant.

Florida’s top court said the dispute, which comes as studies suggest drug-sniffing dogs reflect police bias, sets a bad precedent and “invites overbearing and harassing conduct.”

Howard Blumberg, Jardines’ attorney, agreed.

“When you’re taking about a search of a home, a search of a home is per se unreasonable unless you have warrant with probable cause,” he said in a telephone interview. “The holding is it’s a search of the home, which requires probable cause and a warrant.”

It was the biggest Fourth Amendment case to be decided following the high court’s decision last year that said affixing a GPS device to a vehicle also amounted to search.

Joining Scalia was Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan.

Alito was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Stephen Breyer.

Among others, the case weighed a decade-old Supreme Court precedent in which the justices had ruled that thermal-imaging devices used outside a house to detect marijuana-growing operations inside amounted to a search requiring a warrant. In that case, the high court ruled in 2001 that “rapidly advancing technology” threatens the core of the Fourth Amendment “right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.”

The dog used to nab Jardines was Franky, then an 8-year-old chocolate Labrador. Miami-Dade County officials said the K-9 has discovered more than 2.5 tons of marijuana, 80 pounds of cocaine and millions in cash during its career.

Defense attorney Blumberg said the government’s deployment of a dog was akin to the “device” used in the thermal-imaging case. (.pdf) The dog, like thermal imaging equipment, was used “to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion.”

Pamela Jo Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, had told the high court it must undo the Florida Supreme Court decision. (.pdf)

Law enforcement is significantly hampered if required to develop probable cause without the assistance of dogs. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision requires that the officers have probable cause before employing a dog. It is the dog’s alert, however, that often provides the probable cause to obtain the search warrant.

via Wired

NOT GUILTY! – 2nd NG in one week

Yesterday Neil Rockind obtained a second Not Guilty verdict within a week.

This time it was a Domestic Violence trial in New Baltimore. From the get-go our client maintained his innocence. His (now) ex-wife claimed that he had entered their house and hit her. Except, there was no evidence of an assault. No witnesses, no bruising, no pictures, nothing. In reality, she was pissed that he was sleeping with another woman and was about to file for divorce. So, she did what many scorned women have done: She called the cops, made up an assault, filed for divorce first, filed a PPO, drained their bank accounts, and kept his kids from him (even went so far as to tell the children’s principle that that their father was under court order not to see the kids – which was a lie.) She did all of this within 5 days.  And through it all, our client maintained his innocence; that although they had argued, that he had never laid a hand on her.

Fortunately, the trier of fact agreed and he was found Not Guilty. Justice prevails once again.