If you ask any criminal defense attorney, they will tell you that OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) charges are some of the toughest to beat. The witnesses are, almost always, police officers. The physical evidence is often scientific in nature; i.e. blood tests or BAC measurements that were conducted by machines. And generally, people detest people who drive drunk. Yet despite all that, in the district court for the city of Highland Park, Chris Kessel was able to achieve a not guilty verdict in a trial where he fought against police officer testimony and scientific evidence.
Our client was stopped by a member of the Highland Park Police Department at approximately 1:30am. Based on the stop, the client was charged with OWI and Possessing a Firearm while Intoxicated. The latter charge, if convicted, carried a punishment involving forever losing the client’s CPL.
According to the officer, the client had run a red light, almost lost control of the vehicle, almost hit the officer, attempted to evade the officer, run a stop sign, and had parked his car on the sidewalk…all in that order. The officer then claimed that our client had glassy eyes, slurred speech, that he had failed several field sobriety tests. All of these claims were made by the officer in his police report and during his testimony at trial. The officer also testified that, upon reaching the police station, the client blew a .11 into the DataMaster. The legal limit in Michigan is .08.
However, like most officers, he did not count of having to defend his claims in open court, against the scrutiny of intense cross examination, and in front of a panel of jurors.
During cross examination, Chris Kessel asked why the officer did not activate his emergency lights after the client ran a red light and almost hit the officer. The officer had no explanation. Chris then asked why did the officer not activate his lights when the client began to try and evade the officer. Again, the officer had no explanation. Chris then asked why the officer did not activate his lights after the client ran a stop sign. You guessed it, the officer had no explanation. Making matters worse for the officer was that he did not know that the client had a surveillance camera outside his house, showing that the client parked on the street and did so on his own, without being stopped by the officer. When confronted with the video, the officer began to panic. When asked by Chris why he would say the client parked on the sidewalk when he clearly parked on the curb, the officer replied “I’m from Trinidad and Tobago. The words ‘sidewalk’ and ‘curb’ are interchangeable.” The final question asked was “if those two words are interchangeable, why, in your report, did you say my client moved from the curb to the sidewalk…?” The silence following the question seemed to last minutes. The officer had no answer.
In his closing, Chris Kessel argued to the jury that if there were 7 distinct points in the officer’s story that either defied common sense or could be proven as lies, how could you prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the same officer correctly and honestly operated the DataMaster.
After less than 20 minutes, the jury came back with a not guilty verdict.
The art of cross examination is one that is finely crafted over years and years, and after conducting many, many jury trials. When you retain the law firm of Nessel and Kessel Law, you are ensuring yourself of representation of the highest caliber. The criminal defense attorneys and Nessel and Kessel Law have the experience and knowledge to make sure your rights are protected. Especially in a case where it is your word against that of the police, you need an attorney who can ask the right questions and get the right answers. Don’t be fooled into thinking any attorney can handle your case because they have some experience in the realm of criminal defense law. The ability to execute a thorough and effective cross-examination takes years of practice to perfect. When you retain a criminal defense attorney at Nessel and Kessel Law, you get an attorney who knows exactly how to get what the want from an adversarial witness.
Issue of Same Sex Marriage Headed to D.C….We Hope.
As most of you have heard by now, the trial court’s ruling in our marriage equality case, DeBoer v Snyder, was overturned by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The original opinion of the trial court, written by Judge Bernard Friedman, held that Michigan’s ban on same sex marriage was violative of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Predictably, Attorney General Bill Schuette, appealed the decision to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Oral argument was heard on August 6, 2014, in our case and several other cases from different states. All of the cases from the various states surrounded the issue of same sex marriage. The court, which was comprised of 3 different judges, listened to argument from all sides on all cases. After waiting almost 3 months, the 3 judge panel issued it’s opinion…which was the ruling of Judge Friedman would be overturned. In his opinion, Judge Jeffery Sutton, a Bush II appointee, wrote (in part) that it was not the place of the court to override the will of the electorate. In a blistering dissent (which of course we enjoyed), Judge Martha Daughtrey, a Clinton appointee, wrote that because the right decision was “so obvious” she thought perhaps the majority reached its opinion solely to create a split among the circuit courts that had tackled the question. For those of you who missed it, Judge Daughtrey was the judge who threw her pen down in disgust as one attorney tried to explain why same sex marriages would discourage other married couples from having children.
Because of the decision of the 6th Circuit, Dana Nessel and the other attorneys have filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court. The question presented is simple: whether a state violates the 14th Amendment by denying same-sex couples the right to marry. Our best guess is that the Supreme Court will inform the parties whether or not it will take the case in early January 2015.
Here are several links to the story from a variety of news outlets.
The Washington Post
The Detroit News
Local 4 WDIV
A local college student was charged with Assault by Strangulation after an altercation that took place in his dorm room. DeMario McMurray, a freshman at Wayne State University, faces up to 10 years in prison because of the charges. Mr. McMurray, who may have been targeted because of his homosexuality, is now represented by the criminal defense firm of Nessel and Kessel Law.
What is undisputed is that the week before the incident in question Mr. McMurray had been assaulted by a number of other students. After the assault, Mr. McMurray called the police and made a report. Several days after making the report Mr. McMurray was confronted by the complaining witness in this case. The complainant showed up, unannounced, at Mr. McMurray’s dorm room and an altercation ensued.
At the preliminary exam, held in the 36th District Court, the complaining witness faced a vigorous cross examination by Chris Kessel, one of the criminal defense attorneys representing Mr. McMurray. She testified that she wanted to confront Mr. McMurray about his police report, which involved a friend of hers. She testified that she heard Mr. McMurray on the phone with the police when she began banging on his door. The witness claims that she was let into the room, only to have Mr. McMurray begin strangling her for no apparent reason. When Mr. Kessel began to press her for details, she was unable to describe several key pieces of information surrounding the event. At one point, clearly frustrated, the witness actually cursed at Mr. Kessel.
A police officer was also called to testify at the exam. Upon being questioned by Dana Nessel, the officer was forced to admit that no investigation was done into the actions of the complaining witness; who is appears committed multiple felonies herself (those being home invasion, breaking and entering, and interfering with the filing of a police report). It seemed that despite the witness’s actions, the police and the university determined that only Mr. McMurray was to blame.
As a result of the incident Mr. McMurray was expelled from Wayne State University. No action was taken with respect to the complaining witness…until the story reached the media, at which time the complaining witness was suspended.
Despite the inconsistencies in the complainant’s story, the case was bound over for trial.
Defense Attorney Chris Kessel Helps Client Avoid Mandatory Prison Time
At the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice a client stood in tears as the judge passed his sentence. However, unlike in most cases, these were tears of joy. The client had been charged with, among other things, one count of felony firearm. This charge carries with it a mandatory term of 2 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections…aka prison. Instead of accepting a sentence involving prison, or even jail, the client was sentenced to a term of probation. Criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel was able to negotiate this resolution after receiving special consideration from the prosecutor’s Gun Board.
The case arose from a dispute involving the client and some of his neighbors who had been harassing him. On this particular instance, the client feared that he would be the victim of an assault, so he showed the neighbor his gun. It was these actions that lead to the client being charged with felony firearm and felonious assault.
The Gun Board is a special group of prosecutors whose job is to specifically review cases in which weapons charges are involved. It is the rare case in which the Board takes actions. That is exactly why you need an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney handling your case. At Nessel and Kessel Law, we know what information the Gun Board wants to see when considering whether or not to remove weapons charges. If you or a friend or family member has been charged with a weapons related felony, contact the attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law for a free consultation today.
Criminal Defense Attorney Gets Case Dismissed
After a prolonged legal battle, all charges related to an April 2014 raid were dismissed against a client of Nessel & Kessel Law. Charged with felony firearm, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, and felon in possession of a firearm, our client was facing up to 7 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections. After weeks of negotiations and conversations with the prosecutor’s officer, criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel was able to convince the office to dismiss the charges against his client.
In June of this year the preliminary exam was held in this case, by criminal defense attorney Dana Nessel. During the exam it was revealed that a number of officers that were part of the raid crew had failed to follow evidence gathering protocol. Quite frankly, the previous sentence is a gross understatement. The officers testified that they collected evidence at the scene of the raid with plastic bags that were found in the home, handled multiple pieces of evidence without preserving them for fingerprints, and failed to properly tag several pieces of evidence. Then, weeks after the exam it was revealed that the narcotics unit in the DPD was being “restructured” (aka disbanded).
During the weeks of discussions between Mr. Kessel and the prosecutor, it came to light that a number of the officers that were scheduled to testify had been indefinitely suspended by the Detroit Police Department. Then, after a phone call with the prosecutor handling the case, it was determined that the case would be dismissed. The following day in the Third Circuit Court, before Judge Bill, the case was formally dismissed.
Chris Kessel secures another NG verdict for his client
The client reacted with tears of joy when the jury read back its verdict; “not guilty of the offense of felony firearm, not guilty of the offense of felon in possession of a firearm.” It was a well-earned victory for the client and criminal defense attorney, Chris Kessel. Had the verdict gone the other way, the client was facing a minimum of 2 years in prison.
The case, heard at the Third Circuit Court, stemmed from a complaint received by the Detroit Police, that a man had been firing a shotgun in front of a house in the early morning hours. When the police arrived on the scene they met the client, who was seen exiting a home. When questioned by the police, the client said he had no knowledge of a gun being fired in the area. What happened after that differs depending on whose story you believe. Thankfully the jury did not believe the officers.
Continue reading “Not Guilty Verdict for Detroit Criminal Defense Attorney” »
Criminal defense attorney scores another Not Guilty
A sigh of relief was heard in Frank Murphy as criminal defense attorney Dana Nessel earned another not guilty verdict for her client last week. The client was charged with felonious assault and felony firearm. The felony firearm count carried a mandatory 2 year prison term. The felonious assault charge carried a maximum of 4 years in prison, though it is likely that the client would have received probation. The case was based solely upon the testimony of two security guards who worked at a local venue in the city of Detroit. Not only did the verdict mean that a mandatory prison sentence was avoided, but it paved the way for possible civil litigation against the venue.
The case came about as a result of a confrontation in downtown Detroit in January of 2014. Dana Nessel’s client was driving his vehicle down Woodward Ave., when the vehicle was struck with snow from a snow blower that was being operated in front of the local venue. The operator of the snow blower actually struck the client’s vehicle again when he (the client) slowed down. Eventually, the client got out of the car the confront the man (the complaining witness) about his having blasted the client’s car with snow. Words were exchanged, followed by the appearance of another man who worked at the venue. A physical altercation nearly ensued, but the confrontation ended when both the client and the second man (the second complaining witness) pulled their firearms. After the client left the scene, he called the police. However, he was forced to call the police several times until he realized that no one from the Detroit Police Department would take any action. Unfortunately, the complaining witness also called the police, leading ultimately to the client’s arrest. Thankfully the client’s next call was to the Michigan criminal defense attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law.
Continue reading “Not Guilty Verdict for Dana Nessel” »
Client acquitted on Felony Murder and Second Degree Murder Charges
Michigan criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel’s jury returned a not guilty verdict on felony murder and second degree charges that were brought against Mr. Kessel’s client. The verdict came down after a two week trial which featured more than 20 witnesses and over 90 pieces of evidence. The alleged homicide took place after a robbery that “went wrong” according to the prosecutor.
Mr. Kessel’s client was alleged to have been a member of a 7 person crew that committed a robbery on the East side of the Detroit in the summer of 2012. According to the prosecutor, Mr. Kessel’s client and several other young men planned to rob a home for – depending on which witness you believed – money, guns, pills, video game systems, and other various property. After the robbery took place, the men were exiting and encountered a man calling the police, who was then shot. Almost immediately after the shooting, one of the suspects was taken into custody and immediately cut a deal with the prosecution. Soon after a second suspect was also taken into custody. The case against Mr. Kessel’s client began to form around the information provided by the suspects who were first taken into custody. Despite the shooting taking place in August of 2012, Mr. Kessel’s client was not taken into custody until the Spring of 2013.
The collection of evidence continued for months and trial did not begin until the middle of June, 2014. The prosecution’s case was separated into three segments: police witnesses, civilian witnesses, and co-conspirators. The prosecution began by calling several officers who arrived at the scene and collected various pieces of evidence, including ballistic remains of bullets that were fired after the robbery. After cross examination, it was revealed that none of these witnesses were able to connect any of the evidence to Mr. Kessel’s client. The second group of witnesses, the civilians, were comprised of some actual witnesses to the actual shooting and robbery. Some of these witnesses testified that they witnessed the shooting. However, again, none of these witnesses were able to point to Mr. Kessel’s client as the shooter.
Continue reading “Attorney Chris Kessel Secures Not Guilty Verdict on Murder Charges” »
Chris Kessel Secures Not Guilty Verdict
The client was in tears as he and criminal defense attorney Chris Kessel listened to the jury foreman read the verdict. Not guilty verdicts were read as to all three of the charges against the defendant. Along with first degree premeditated murder, the client was found not guilty of felony firearm and felon in possession of a firearm. The charges stemmed from a shooting that took place in Detroit in August 2013.
Detroit defense attorney Chris Kessel’s entire theme of the case was that when you make a very specific description of clothing, the actual clothing better match that description. The prosecution’s case rested almost solely on the testimony of one witness; an eye-witness to the actual shooting. The witness testified that she saw the shooting from her home, and that she had a clear view of the shooter, who was wearing a green hoodie with white writing across the chest and no zippers. While she was unable to see the face of the shooter, after being shown surveillance video from a nearby gas station, the witnesses picked out the defendant and claimed that he was the shooter.
Continue reading “Client Acquitted of First Degree Murder” »
Dana Nessel gets charges against client dismissed.
Last week, in the Romulus district court, criminal defense attorney Dana Nessel won an almost unheard of victory.
Our client was charged with Possession of a Taser, which is a similar charge to Carrying a Concealed weapon (CCW). Violation of this statute is a felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison and up to a $2,000.00 fine. The client was arrested at Detroit Metro Airport, as she was going through a security checkpoint. She had forgotten that she was in possession of the taser when she attempted to board the place. Thankfully the client contacted the criminal defense attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law.
Dana Nessel, upon meeting with the attorney for the City of Romulus, was able to convince him that this was simply a case where the client had forgotten that she was in possession of the taser, and had the charges reduced. However, the charges were not simply reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Dana Nessel was able to have the felony possession charges reduced to a ticket for double parking. Of course the client was thrilled with the results.
When a client retains Nessel and Kessel Law we immediately begin to develop a comprehensive strategy for success. Sometimes success means convincing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges completely, or have them greatly reduced. Other times it means a motion to suppress evidence to have the case dismissed by a judge, or fully preparing for trial and securing a not guilty verdict. Each client, case and set of facts are different. That’s why you need a criminal defense attorney who is prepared to handle any situation that comes across their desk. Contact Nessel and Kessel Law today so that you can talk to a criminal defense attorney and see what success can mean for you.