Category Archives: Neil Rockind In The News!

NOT GUILTY – Operating While Visibly Impaired

Many people are not aware that you can be under the legal limit of .08 blood/alcohol content, yet still be charged with drunk driving. In Michigan there is a charge below Operating While Intoxicated called Operating While Visibly Impaired. They are two separate charges and they have two different legal standards.

When a person blows a .08 BAC or above, they are generally charged with Operating While Intoxicated. In order to prove this charge, the prosecution must actually admit evidence that the person took a breath test and was at .08 BAC or above.

If the prosecution cannot prove that the person blew above at or above a .08 BAC, then they can charge the person with Operating While Visibly Impaired. In order to prove this charge, the only thing that the prosecution must prove is that  the person had consumed alcohol and that the alcohol impaired their ability to operate the motor vehicle. Usually this is proved by showing that the person looked like they were driving impaired (e.g. by swerving, speeding, failing to use a turn signal, driving erratically, etc.)

Last month Neil held a trial in which our client was charged with operating his motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol after he abruptly changed lanes once, was pulled over, and blew a .06 BAC on the breathalyzer. The Prosecutor’s office refused to dismiss the case and even filed a motion asking the judge to ban us from being able to argue that driving below a .08 BAC was legal. We filed a response and the judge agreed that we were able to argue to the jury that driving with a BAC less than .08 was not a crime, unless they could prove that he was actually impaired by the alcohol.

The trial lasted two days and after a very short deliberation, the jury agreed that there was no proof that our client had driven his car while impaired by alcohol. Another NOT GUILTY in the books!

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NOT GUILTY of drug and weapons charges!

In mid-December we went to trial on a case in Detroit, Michigan.

Our client was charged back in late 2012 of Possession of nearly 200 grams of cocaine and felony firearm. If he were convicted, he would have been looking at 5-8 years in prison.

However, we knew he was innocent.

The police had allegedly received an anonymous tip that someone was dealing drugs out of our client’s mother’s house in Detroit. Our client did not live at this house, but while his mother was in Florida, he was taking care of the home. The police busted into the home and found our client in the home in a towel (he was about to take a shower). They arrested him and conducted a search of the home.

At this point the “facts” get muddled. The police claimed that they caught our client walking down the stairs (coming from upstairs) and that when they searched the upstairs bedroom they found several guns, pictures of our client, a large amount of cocaine, paperwork proving our client lived at that house, and some cash. In fact, the police claimed that they found all of that “evidence” in and on top of a small end table on the side of a bed (wrapped up with a neat and tidy little bow too, right?)

However, our client claimed that the police did not catch him coming from upstairs, and that the guns were all legally registered and found throughout the house for protection (I mean it is Detroit after all) and that the cocaine was actually found by the police in the rafters in the basement. Further, he told us that many people stopped by and hung out at the home and that he had no idea that there was a bag of cocaine hidden away in the basement.

In other words, the police found a bunch of illegal items but had no way to actually connect our client to those illegal items (especially since the house doesn’t belong to him.)

Trial prep was arduous. We had to figure out a way to convince the jury that the police were lying about the location where all of the contraband was found, and we had to convince the jury that our client was being truthful about the fact that he didn’t know there were drugs in the home. We developed several lines of cross-examination for all of the officers and in the end Neil gave one of the best closing arguments he has ever given.

It was a 3 day jury trial and after about 2 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a NOT GUILTY verdict ON ALL COUNTS. It was apparent that the jury simply did not believe the police. Instead, they believed our client – when he testified that he did not know that someone was using his mother’s home as a stash house.

Operating with Controlled Substance Statute Struck

In a case that has been ongoing for the past two and a half years, we again convinced a judge that the Michigan statute barring anyone from driving with any amount of marijuana in their system is unconstitutional.

After the judge reached this opinion, we were contacted by Michigan Lawyers Weekly about possibly writing a story.

Here is the story, which is currently featured as the lead story on their website: Lawyers Weekly Article

Great result and great article!

MI Court of Appeals hears arguments in medical marijuana dispensary cases

Michigan’s Court of Appeals (COA) heard oral arguments on August 6 pertaining to several cases in which medical marijuana patients and/or caregivers are alleged to have sold medical marijuana, in 2010, to undercover officers who were posing as legitimate patients.

Law enforcement authorities and the Oakland Co. prosecutor’s office have claimed that the Clinical Relief employees and associates were operating an illegal dispensary. The attorneys for the Clinical Relief defendants filed motions to dismiss their criminal charges based on the common law rule of lenity. They argued that, at the time the alleged illegal acts occurred, Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) was ambiguous regarding patient-to-patient sales of medical marijuana and that their clients did not receive a fair warning that their dispensary activities were unlawful.

At the time of the raid conducted at Clinical Relief, no published appellate opinions had been issued regarding the legality of patient-to-patient sales of medical marijuana in Michigan.

On January 11, 2012, Oakland County Circuit Judge Daniel O’Brien agreed with the defense and held that the rule of lenity was applicable to the facts of their cases. He then dismissed all charges brought against Anthony Agro, Barbara Agro and Nicholas Agro, Ryan Richmond, Barbara Johnson, Ryan Fleissner, and Matthew Curtis.

The prosecutor appealed Judge O’Brien’s dismissals in the Clinical Relief case to the COA, who held oral arguments in the matter on August 6, 2013. (This reporter videotaped the People v Clinical Relief oral arguments, which are streaming online at: http://vimeo.com/71930675 )

In a somewhat related appeal, also heard by the COA on August 6, the defense in the case of People v Jason VanSickle argued that Judge O’Brien erred when he declined to dismiss similar charges filed against his client. VanSickle allegedly sold medical marijuana to undercover officers outside of the Clinical Relief facilities. The Oakland Press reported on July 15, 2011 that Van Sickle’s defense attorney, Jim Rasor, said “VanSickle assumed undercover detectives, who had patient cards, were legitimate medical marijuana patients.” (This reporter also videotaped the People v VanSickle oral arguments, which are streaming online at: http://vimeo.com/71937695 )

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Walton represented the prosecution in the Clinical Relief appeal. The Clinical Relief defendants were represented in the trial court by attorneys Thomas Loeb, Cheryl Carpenter, Neil Rockind, Steve Fishman, Paul Tylenda, Jerry Sabota, and Matt Shepherd. They defendants were also represented by appellate attorney Stuart Friedman.

It is unknown at this time how long the COA will take to release its opinions in the Clinical Relief and VanSickle cases.

via The Examiner

Eastpointe resident gets probation for selling fake medical marijuana certificates

A 36-year-old Eastpointe man avoided jail time for his role in a scheme with a doctor to provide fake certificates for people to use medical marijuana.

Brian Deloose on Tuesday received the identical sentence — 18 months probation — of his co-defendant, Dr. Louis Butler-Jackson, by Judge Diane Druzinski in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens. Deloose previously admitted to selling hundreds of medical marijuana patient certificates illicitly approved by Butler-Jackson for $250 each at his Warren appliance store.

Butler-Jackson, 52, who received $100 for each certificate, in January was convicted of health care fraud and committing a legal or illegal act in an illegal manner following a trial in front of Druzinski.

Druzinski sentenced Deloose at the bottom of the sentencing guideline range of zero to 17 months behind bars. Probation officials recommended probation.

“It’s the appropriate sentence,” said Deloose’s defense attorney, Neil Rockind. “The doctor was the primary figure in this case because she was the only one with legal authority to sign the documents, and she received probation.

“Brian took responsibility for what he did and received a legal, reasonable sentence.”

The state Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in 2008, required that a doctor OKing a certificate establish a legitimate doctor-patient relationship. In April, new requirement took affect regarding that relationship. The doctor must complete face-to-face medical evaluations of patients, review their relevant medical records and assess their medical condition and history. The changes also require post-approval meetings with patients to determine its efficacy.

Deloose’s driver license was suspended for six months, and he cannot have contact with Butler-Jackson during probation.

He previously pleaded guilty to five counts — one count of placing false or misleading information in a medical chart, one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner and three counts of illegal delivery of marijuana. The drug charges are punishable by up to four years in prison, and the other two offenses are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Butler-Jackson’s license to practice medicine was suspended for six months and one day by the state. She said she had not sought to renew the license at the time of her March sentencing.

The cases were prosecuted by the offices of state Attorney General Bill Schuette and Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

via Oakland Press

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.