Articles Posted in Motion Practice

In 1963, there was a case that changed the face of criminal law. The case was heard before the United States Supreme Court, and it was Brady v. Maryland. In Brady, the doctrine or rule (the terminology depends on who you speak to) requires that the prosecution must turn over all exculpatory evidence to the defendant in a criminal case. Exculpatory evidence is evidence that might exonerate the defendant. To learn more about this, we spoke to some of the top lawyers in the State of Michigan.

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County, Michigan. ( McManus is known as one of the top business attorneys in Michigan. He provided insight when he said, “In criminal cases, we see a lot of civil litigation spin-offs when a prosecutor does not hand over all of the evidence. This is where different fields of law end up on a collision course.

Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo and has evolved into a top-flight divorce attorney.  ( Kelley spoke on the issue when she stated, “We see a rise in divorce cases when somebody is charged with a criminal case. Let me be clear when somebody is charged, not convicted. Suppose we have a prosecutor that is playing dirty. In that case, it can affect the scales of justice, but it can destroy the family unit. That is a bi-product of the Brady Rule.”

“The Clayton Motion” is a criminal motion to dismiss an indictment in the interest of justice.  The action has garnered national recognition since it’s mention in the hit television series “For Life.”  Aside from its popularity in pop culture, motion is a powerful technique that has played a role in preserving justice in the New York criminal justice system and now has a chance to impact the Michigan criminal justice system with the encouragement of forwarding thinking prosecutors.

According to New York’s Criminal Procedural Law Section 201.40, An indictment or any count thereof may be dismissed in furtherance of justice, as provided in paragraph (i) of subdivision one of section 210.20, when, even though there may be no basis for dismissal as a matter of law upon any ground specified in paragraphs (a) through (h) of said subdivision one of section 210.20, such discharge is required as a matter of judicial discretion by the existence of some compelling factor, consideration or circumstance demonstrating that conviction or prosecution of the defendant upon such indictment or count would constitute or result in injustice. In determining whether such compelling factor, consideration, or circumstance exists, the court must, to the extent applicable, examine and consider, individually and collectively with the characteristics listed within the statute. To discuss these factors, we spoke to several Michigan attorneys to gain their insight.

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is known as one of the top business attorneys in our state but has ties to New York.  McManus stated, “Growing up in Brooklyn, the Clayton Motion was something that we regularly discussed. The first factor the courts look at is “the seriousness and circumstances of the offense,” and that could place a barrier immediately to a successful motion. We need to remember that the presumption of innocence is in effect at all times, and just because a prosecutor issued a charge that may be deemed severe, the court needs to look beyond the information in the complaint objectively.”

One topic that is often at the center of law school lectures but is not an issue that garners a great deal of publicity is the mistrial. The mistrial is one of the most difficult motions that any litigator will ever face should they decide to go that route. The key to a successful mistrial motion is the concept of prejudice but to display that a party has been disadvantaged is easier said than done. Case law, litigators and the general public are often left with a great deal of confusion when addressing this issue. Our goal today will be to provide insight on the topic along with commentary from leaders in the field.  Let’s begin by discussion what the black letter law states and then delve into the shade of gray which is where this issue lives.

Let us start this discussion by reviewing case law on the topic. In the case of Wolfe v. Peery, we find that: “A trial court should grant a mistrial only when a party’s chances of receiving a fair trial have been irreparably damaged and we use the deferential abuse of discretion standard to review trial court ruling denying a mistrial.” While the case law says one thing, the application of the motion is an entirely different process. To gain insight on this issue, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense lawyers in the State of Michigan.

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Amadeo has quickly become known as the top criminal defense attorneys in the State of Michigan. When asked about the mistrial motion, Amadeo stated, “Many attorneys like the idea of bringing a motion for a mistrial but do not understand intricate their motion must be. In fact, if you are banking on winning the motion you are putting your client in a precarious situation.  Case law indicates that a mistrial is only granted if the court is apprised of prejudice that it deems to be incurable.  In the simplest of terms, the court is reluctant to grant such a motion. Our motion writers have found a great deal of success but that is because they look at the issue globally which is an unusual but effective process.”

For those that practice criminal law, our profession has taken a new turn.  Allegations from decades ago are showing up at the courthouse steps as the media is encouraging people to bring claims that would be deemed stale under normal circumstances. With that stated, the lack of physical evidence or eye witness testimony seems to be an issue that has been overlooked in recent prosecutions. One way to fight the subject of a frivolous prosecution is “The Stanaway Motion.”

While most lawyers in the field are not even familiar with this seldom used motion, the presence of the Stanaway case has provided a lot of power to the aggressive criminal defense attorney. People v. Stanaway, 446 Mich. 643 (1994).

The Stanaway case presents the question of whether, and under what circumstances, records of a psychologist, a sexual assault counselor, a social worker, or a juvenile diversion officer regarding a witness should be discoverable by the accused in a criminal trial. This means medical records of one that was a minor at the time of the allegation can potentially come into admissibility with a successful Stanaway motion. This presents an issue that can sway a judge and jury upon reviewing the psychological makeup of the complaining witness.

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