Recent Cases

Armed Robbery Charges Dismissed

After a preliminary exam at the district court for the City of Westland, Chris Kessel was able to have armed robbery charges dismissed against his client. 

Our client was initially charged with armed robbery after a incident that happened in a local K-Mart.  The testimony from one of the store’s loss prevention officers was that the client stole some costume jewelry from the store.  In essence, the client committed a retail fraud.  The client then left the store with her boyfriend (and co-defendant).  When the two were stopped by the store’s employees, our client continued walking to her car, while the co-defendant lifted up his shirt and allegedly threatened the employees with a handgun.  Our client was charged based on the theory that she was an accessory to the boyfriend’s use of the weapon. Continue reading “Armed Robbery Charges Dismissed” »

Uttering and Pulbishing Charges Dismissed

Another successful defense was mounted in the Livonia District Court as defense attorney Dana Nessel convinced the prosecutor to dismissed two felony charges.  Our client was charged with two felony counts of Uttering and Publishing, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, which were completely unfounded.  Ms. Nessel, after extensive negotiations with the Wayne County Prosecutor, secured a plea for our client which involved the dismissal of the two felony charges.  I

Continue reading “Uttering and Pulbishing Charges Dismissed” »

Breaking and Entering Cases Dismissed

Detroit defense attorney Chris Kessel turns 8 convictions into 4 with HYTA. 

Several weeks ago a client came to Nessel and Kessel Law with EIGHT cases involving Breaking and Entering, Larceny from a Building, and Felony Firearm.  It became immediately apparant that all 8 cases stemmed from the actions of one night.  Unfortunately, because of the Felony Firearm charge the client was looking at a minimum of 2 years in prison.   

Continue reading “Breaking and Entering Cases Dismissed” »

Marijuana Defense Attorney

Dana Nessel turns a felony into a suppressed misdemeanor. 

Today, at the Hamtramck District Court, Dana Nessel helped another client of Nessel and Kessel Law keep a clean criminal record.  The client was originally charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana, a 4 year felony.  Normally cases that start out as felonies are handled at the circuit court level, the court with jurisdiction over all felonies.  However, Dana Nessel, a top marijuana defense attorney, was able to persuade the prosecutor to allow our client not only to plead to a misdemeanor, but also to be sentenced under MCL 333.7411.

Continue reading “Marijuana Defense Attorney” »

Detroit Defense Attorney Shines at Preliminary Exam

Felony Firearm Charges Dismissed

Thanks to arguments made by Chris Kessel after a preliminary exam, the weapons charges against a client of Nessel and Kessel Law were dismissed by a judge at the 36th District CourtOur client was charges with Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW), Felon In Possession of a Firearm (FIP) and Felony Firearm (FF).  These charges often accompany each other because they can all be charged by the commission of one simple act; possessing a gun.  The charges stemmed from an encounter our client had with 3 Detroit Police Officers.

Continue reading “Detroit Defense Attorney Shines at Preliminary Exam” »

Detroit Defense Attorney Gets Home Invasion Dismissed

Home Invasion Attorney Gets 20 Year Felony Dismissed

This week, in the Wayne County Circuit Court, Detroit defense attorney Chris Kessel of Nessel & Kessel Law achieved another significant legal victory.  Our client was charged with Home Invasion – First Degree, Unlawfully Driving Away an Automobile (UDAA), and misdemeanor Domestic Violence.  The Home Invasion charge carries a maximum 20 year prison sentence, while the Unlawfully Driving Away an Automobile carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.  Generally, when a defendant is sentenced on two or more crimes at the same time, the sentences will run “concurrent”; meaning that both sentences will be run at the same time.  However, because of the state of the law in Michigan, if a defendant is convicted of Home Invasion and another crime, the sentences will run consecutive; meaning a defendant will have to serve their sentence on the Home Invasion THEN serve their sentence on the other crime.

Continue reading “Detroit Defense Attorney Gets Home Invasion Dismissed” »

Probation Violation Attorney

Probation Violation Dismissed

Sometimes a skilled probation violation attorney is the only thing that keeps you out of jail.  Recently Nessel and Kessel had the pleasure of representing a young man who was alleged to have violated his probation in the Wayne County Circuit Court.  The client originally plead guilty to possession of less than 25 grams of heroin and was sentenced to non-reporting probation.  Unfortunately, during his probation, the client was forced to change probation officers.  As is sometimes the case, the new officer was not familiar with all of the details of the client’s case, and when he didn’t show up didn’t report during the first 2 months of the new probation officer’s term the probation officer issued a warrant for the client’s arrest.  The client, who was unaware that a warrant was issued for his arrest, was later arrested and charged with violating his probation by absconding.

Before holding the probation violation hearing, Chris Kessel was able to obtain a copy of the original court file where it clearly showed that the client was sentenced to non-reporting probation.  Chris was able to explain to the court that the client was under no obligation to report regularly to his probation officer and that it was the fault of the new probation officer, not the client, that the warrant was issued.  When the court saw the original order of probation along with the accompanying documents, the violation was immediately dismissed and the client was continued on his probation, with the court’s apologies. Continue reading “Probation Violation Attorney” »

Gay Mom Turned Down By Supreme Court

Renee Harmon seeks custody of three children she raised with former partner
By Tara Cavanaugh

Originally printed (Issue 1929 – Between The Lines News)

After being turned away from the Michigan Supreme Court, Renee Harmon, a mother who has not seen her three children in two years, will now pursue her case through federal court.

Harmon is seeking custody rights for the children she raised with her former partner, Tammy Davis. Harmon appealed to the Supreme Court for the right to be able to present evidence showing she acted as a parent. The Supreme Court denied her request in a 3-4 decision on July 22.

Under Michigan law, Harmon was never a legally-recognized parent to the children she raised for ten years. Davis and Harmon planned the children together, and Davis bore the children through artificial insemination. Michigan adoption law does not explicitly say that same-sex couples cannot adopt, but many adoption judges have interpreted the law to say so.

Harmon is represented by two lawyers, Nicole Childers and Dana Nessel. Nessel is not surprised that the case was turned away by the state Supreme Court.

“Something we can’t help but notice is that this decision comes on the heels of the new laws that allow marriage in the state of New York,” Nessel said. “While thousands of New York families can now celebrate their newfound rights, Renee’s been mourning the loss of her three children. We see a stark contrast between what other states are doing in moving forward and what Michigan is doing, which is moving backwards at every step.

“We think that’s shameful and we think better of our state than that.”

The three Democratic judges on the state Supreme Court, Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, Justice Diane M. Hathaway and Justice Marilyn J. Kelly, dissented. Justice Kelly authored a scathing dissent of the decision, writing: “Plaintiff’s application raises significant constitutional questions that this Court has not yet considered. Courts across the country are grappling with similar issues… Yet the majority today declines to consider plaintiff’s arguments… This case cries out for a ruling from the state’s highest courts.”

After the ruling, Harmon said she felt “Devastated. Discouraged. But I guess in the back of my mind I knew … there was a very good possibility that (the judges) would follow party lines, and that’s exactly what they did. So I was prepared. But I held out some hope. But I’m also determined to keep going forward.”

Nessel said that LGBT foundations and community centers have been unwilling to support Harmon’s quest for rights to her children. “Any time we have tried to do anything either with Renee’s case, or with other cases that involve same-sex second parent adoption issues, it’s unfortunately our experience and it’s been Renee’s experience that the LGBT groups don’t seem interested in supporting legal causes,” she said.

“Even though it’s our opinion that it’s the best way to change the law in Michigan when you have a legislature that is clearly unsupportive of that.

Harmon plans for a fundraiser to help pay legal fees this fall. To contribute, search for “Harmie’s Army” on Facebook.

A Landmark Gay Custody Battle

by David Ashenfelter
Posted April 17, 2010

In a ruling that could have broad and precedent-setting legal consequences, a Downriver woman cleared the first hurdle Friday in her bid to get joint custody of three children she says she raised with the biological mother.
If the decision stands up on appeal, it would be the first time gays, lesbians and unmarried heterosexuals in Michigan would have legal standing to obtain joint custody.

“This is a historic moment, “ Renee Harmon’s lawyer, Dana Nessel, said Friday as her client’s supporters hugged and cheered Harmon outside Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen McCarthy’s court.
“Judge McCarthy’s ruling really ushers us into the 21st Century,” Nessel said.

McCarthy ruled Harmon’s request for parenting time with the children she and her ex-partner of 19 years, Tammy Davis, raised can proceed to a hearing July 21 to determine whether they had an agreement to share custody.”
If an agreement existed, which Harmon’s lawyers said they can easily prove, McCarthy likely will grant joint custody, the lawyers predicted.

Harmon, 48 of Trenton and Davis, 39 of Grosse Ile broke up in 2008. During the relationship, Davis had three children through artificial insemination. Harmon said she helped raise them and, in all respects, was a parent.
After the couple split, Harmon said, she had joint custody for 13 months until last September, when Davis’ new live-in partner told her she could no longer see the children.

Harmon forced her way into her former home, prompting Davis to obtain a personal protection order preventing Harmon from having any contact with Davis or the children.
Davis counters that Harmon was not a parent, the children don’t regard her as such, and that Harmon was abusive and has no legal right to joint custody because she is not their biological mother.
Currently, the only people who can petition for custody are biological parents, or the husband of the biological parents, or the husband of the biological mother if the child was born during their marriage.

Underage Girl Found Stripping at Another Club

Christine MacDonald, Tom Greenwood and Micki Steele
July 14, 2010 (The Detroit News)

Detroit – First, police say she danced as Fantasy. Then, she performed as Sparkle.
Now, the 15-year-old girl is in a juvenile lockup and renewing debate about whether Detroit is doing enough to regulate its topless clubs.

Acting on a tip about an underage performer, police raided Club Onyx on Monday and found that the girl dancing in a yellow bikini is the same one arrested in April for performing at the All Star Lounge.
They were doubly surprised since that club on Eight Mile near Greenfield was padlocked just hours earlier after a judge declared it a nuisance in part because of the April incident, said John Roach, a police spokesman.
Police may be shocked, but opponents and defenders of the clubs aren’t.

The Rev. Marvin Winans of Perfecting Church, who helped persuade the City Council in February to ban lap dances and require licenses for most employees at the clubs, said: “She is not the only one doing this.
“This has become a li! festyle for our young people because they are exposed to it.”
Attorneys for the club are suspicious, accusing the police – or others – of setting the girl up. They say the girl entered the club 15-30 minutes before police arrived and showed the staff a state ID showing she was of age. By law, dancers must be at least 18.
“I just find it hard to believe the same girl who was found dancing at All Star came to another club at Joy and Greenfield and the police are called again,” said Elias Muawad, an attorney for Club Onyx.

“I think she is working with someone … local law enforcement or someone else.”
Roach said the girl, who turned 15 in May, “is not working for us.”

She was taken to the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility and could face charges of indecent exposure, child sexually abusive activity or other charges. Charges for the managers are also possible, and prosecutors could move to ask a judge to declare Club Onyx a nuisance and padl! ock it.
Two employees at Club Onyx were arrested during ! the raid , said Dana Nessel, another attorney for the club. But she said prosecutors told her late Tuesday they were not charged and would be released pending an investigation.
Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for Prosecutor Kym Worthy, declined comment.

Acquaintances who know the girl – who lives near All Star Lounge – said her 39-year-old mother tries but can’t control her. Police credited the mother with tracking the girl down at the strip club in April and bringing about the raid.
“She is fast and disrespectful of her mother,” said Tay Giles, 39, who has known the family for about three years. “She would pull a garbage can up to the window and jump out of the house.
“From what I could see, her mother was doing what she was supposed to do … but if you sat down … had a conversation with her, you would know she’s underage because she’s not capable of having a grown-up conversation.”
Court records show prosecutors filed a truancy violation against the gir! l in April, claiming she missed more than 90 days of school.
The girl testified this month she worked at two other strip clubs before All Star hired her – without ever asking for ID – and a girl she went to Northwestern High School with also worked at the club. She claimed she worked at All Star several days a week, and police say she made about $350 a night.

Attorneys for the club say she is lying and used a fake ID. They plan to appeal the padlocking.
Club Onyx is about five miles from the All Star Club.
Marcellus Travers, 33, who regularly visits a relative near the girl’s former house on Avon, said he would often see her walking down the street with a grocery bag in the early morning. She wore skimpy tops and short shirts and appeared to have been dropped off at the corner, he said.

“She’s a very attractive young lady. She’s too fast for 15,” Travers said.

This latest raid came on the eve of a preliminary hearing for Andre Hutson, the! former All Star manager who was ordered Tuesday to stand tria! l on a c harge of child sexually abusive activity for allegedly hiring the girl.
The girl testified against Hutson on Tuesday during the hearing at 36th District Court. He faces up to 20 years if convicted.
Roach said the girl was at Club Onyx “in the capacity of a dancer,” but wouldn’t comment on what she was wearing or whether she was ever topless.

“We categorically deny she was dancing for anybody,” Muawad, the club attorney, said. “There were no customers. It was all the workers. It was a dead night.”

Police said they recently spoke with Club Onyx staff about underage dancers and were working on an agreement with the club on several unrelated violations. Roach said the club has been the scene of one fatal and several nonfatal shootings.
“We were working on an agreement in which they would commit to certain actions, such as making sure it was a 21-years-of-age-and-older only club, that they maintained video surveillance on the premises, and that they ! would provide us access to those kinds of controls,” Roach said.

Nessel said the bar has cooperated with police. She said some isolated problems had occurred in the parking lot, but the club was working closely with law enforcement to solve the problem.
“We requested members of the police department to come in and give lectures (to club staff),” Nessel said. “It’s a legitimate business, and they are trying to work within the balance of the law. They don’t want to cause havoc in the community.”
Tuesday’s incident comes several months after the City Council adopted new restrictions on strip clubs, including bans on VIP rooms. Council members considered, but rejected, requests by Winans and other religious leaders to ban alcohol at the clubs.
Winans said the incident was made possible by “an inept council” and a “very silent mayor and a police force that coddles this type of behavior.”