This week, civil rights attorney and activist Dana Nessel and her organization, Fair Michigan, has helped take another step forward in the battle for protection of members of the LGBT community. In conjunction with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department, a new unit has been created that is specially designed to handle crimes against members of the LGBT community. The unit will be assigned one special prosecutor and one special investigator, each with special training to handle cases in which members of the LGBT community have been specifically targeted.
Because of Dana Nessel’s continued work as a defense attorney all across Michigan, she will take no part in any of the investigations or prosecutions handled by the new unit. However, Ms. Nessel is the President of Fair Michigan, the organization behind the push to create the unit.
Here is a link to a story by the Detroit News.
In November of 2014, Nessel and Kessel Law began our representation of a local college student who felt he was being targeted because of his homosexuality. Briefly, the facts of the case are as follows; 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. Here is a link to the previous blog post on the case.
Our client was charged with Assault by Strangulation, a felony charge with a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison. For any of us, especially a young man, just starting college with a spotless record, this charge would cause an incredible amount of nervousness and anxiety. After being charged, our client was suspended from school, expelled from school, faced harassment (both in person and in social media), all while being terrified of being sentenced to prison.
Thankfully, after months of negotiations, we at Nessel and Kessel Law are happy to report that this case has come to a conclusion. The felony charge was dismissed, in exchanged for a plea to a very low-level misdemeanor. But more importantly, the client will have the conviction suppressed his record completely clean after completing a brief term of probation. It is important to note that this resolution could not have been reached without the cooperation and assistance of the very hard working and fair minded prosecutor who was handling the case. Equally important is the idea that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is open to the understanding of the plight of members of the LGBT community.
At Nessel and Kessel Law, we are intensely committed to the protection of the rights of members of the LGBT community. Will have never, nor will we ever, shy away from a fight involving the defense of those who are being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently we are in the middle of a fight over the constitutionality of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. But denial of the right to marry is not the only way in which LGBT rights are being denied and is not the only way in which member of that community are being discriminated against. Thankfully, we at Nessel and Kessel Law are committed to fight for the rights of all members of the LGBT community.