As of right now there is only one medical marijuana dispensary criminal case that has been outright dismissed without the possibility of the case being recharged, or of an appeal reversing the dismissal decision – and that case is our case.
Unfortunately, per the agreement with the State, many of the details are sealed. However, I can divulge that our client was an owner and operator of a medical marijuana dispensary in Southeastern Michigan. That dispensary was raided by police and ultimately our client was charged with felonies for distribution of marijuana.
We held the preliminary examination and ultimately, armed with the transcripts from that examination, we set about the task of writing nearly 100 pages of motions and briefs.
As soon as we sent over the motions and briefs to the prosecutor’s office, they called us and waived the white flag. The case didn’t even get out of the District Court. No appeals, no re-charging. Just the complete DISMISSAL of a felony case against a medical marijuana dispensary.
THE TASTE OF VICTORY IS SWEET!
In the Michigan Court System we do not utilize the grand jury proceeding. Instead, legal system utilizes the “preliminary examination.” This examination is very similar to a grand jury proceeding, except that in place of the 12 jurors making the decision, there is a single judge that makes the decision. In addition, at a preliminary examination, as opposed to a grand jury proceeding, the defense is allowed to cross-examine the People’s witnesses and call witnesses of their own.
At a preliminary examination, the People have the burden of proving two things: 1) whether there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed; and 2) whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the defendant is the person that committed that crime. Generally, this is a very low standard and as long as the prosecution presents some evidence of illegal conduct, the Judge will usually bind the matter over to the circuit court. It is a very rare occurrence indeed that a case is dismissed at the preliminary examination.
However, Neil Rockind seems to have a knack for dismissals.
In January, Neil held a preliminary examination in a case wherein our client was charged with several counts of theft for allegedly stealing sets of tires from several different vehicles. However, at the preliminary examination (that was held in front of a very difficult judge) Neil was able to establish that the police had only learned about the alleged connection between our client and the thefts by breaking the law. The police, without probable cause, had been tracking our clients movements and even went so far as to pull him over while he was driving, without a shred of evidence of any illegal conduct.
The Judge agreed that the police had broken the law and, as fruit of the poisonous tree, the Judge suppressed all of the evidence that was obtained after the illegal actions by the police. Absent that evidence, there was no evidence that our client had done anything wrong. Subsequently, the Judge dismissed the case at the preliminary examination upon a finding that there was insufficient evidence to believe that our client had committed a crime.
Neil and I prepped that preliminary examination for weeks and all of that hard work resulted in a DISMISSAL. Doesn’t get any more satisfying than that.
One of the types of cases that we specialize are Domestic Violence cases. You can check out our domestic violence website here: http://www.michigandomesticviolence.com/
In nearly all of the domestic violence cases that we handle, we always prepare for trial from the get-go. Most of these cases ultimately go to trial – primarily because the prosecution will rarely dismiss (even if the complainant wants a dismissal) out of fear that the defendant will simply commit the same crime again (or is some cases, commit an even worse offense.)
Basically, we are always prepared to go to trial on domestic violence cases – whereas prosecutors almost always try to force a plea.
Last month, Neil appeared with our client in Sterling Heights prepared to go to trial. Despite the fact that the complainant had showed up at every other court appearance and had told the prosecutor numerous times that our client had “pushed her” and that she absolutely wanted the case to go to trial, she failed to appear at the trial. The truth is that our client had never pushed her and she was simply using the legal system to keep our client out of his own home.
The prosecutor asked for an adjournment so that he could attempt to find the complainant, but the Judge was fed up with both her antics and her refusal to appear at trial despite being subpoenaed, so he DISMISSED THE CASE ENTIRELY!
Our client could have taken a plea deal, but he opted to fight the ridiculous allegation and ultimately we were rewarded with a DISMISSAL. This is what we do.
All too often, prosecutors refused to dismiss charged once they have been filed, despite an assessment of the circumstances. In other words, even when there is good cause, prosecutors often refuse to dismiss cases once they have been initiated.
This is all the more true when the client is charged with an alleged violation of the Medical Marijuana Act. For some reason, when it comes to patients using marijuana pursuant to a valid medical marijuana card, prosecutor’s are extremely resistant to dismissals – even when we have shown that they have met all of the elements under Section 4 or Section 8 of the Medical Marijuana Act.
Nevertheless, sometimes we are simply too convincing. Such was the case in Livingston County last month. After a lengthy discussion with the local city attorney, all charges against our client were dismissed outright. No temporary pleas, no appeals. Outright dismissals don’t happen very often, but we fight for them and are fortunate enough to get well more than our fair share.
Several months ago, we were contacted by a cancer survivor with complications from his bout with cancer and other physical ailments, including a broken back from a separate incident, who was under investigation for Manufacture of Marijuana. A Michigan State Police plane flew over his yard and observed 4 plants on his porch. The plants were in a single pot and had been placed in his backyard to get some sun before leaving for work. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to put them back inside before leaving. The State Police obtained a warrant and gathered the plants. A criminal prosecution ensued and he hired Neil Rockind and Neil Rockind, P.C.
We dug in ordering records, medical records and other materials to defend the client. When our client first appeared in court, the prosecutor attempted to push our client into waiving his right to a preliminary examination. When we next appeared, our client and Attorney Colin Daniels were pressured to waive the preliminary examination and plead to a felony count or risk being charged with additional crimes. We declined and demanded a preliminary examination.
Today, on the verge of the hearing, the case was dismissed. Prior to, the prosecutor and Neil Rockind had an extensive conversation about the case and our client’s condition. Rockind sent the prosecutor a copy of the client’s valid medical marijuana card. A few minutes later, as Neil Rockind was gearing up for the hearing, we received word: CASE DISMISSED.
Neil Rockind and Colin Daniels are criminal defense lawyers in Southfield, Michigan with the firm, Neil Rockind, P.C. The firm is available to discuss your medical marijuana or other criminal case needs at your convenience. Call 248.208.3800 for more information.