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When arguing that a criminal defendant is not competent, the defense counsel has an uphill battle. The standards for competency in the State of Michigan are harsh, and many times criminal defendants in need will be deemed competent despite having issues of mental capacity that are often overlooked. One disease that will not deem a defendant incompetent but will help with an argument to mitigate a crime is “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.”

“Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” is known in the medical profession as Kleine–Levin syndrome (KLS). KLS is a rare sleep disorder characterized by persistent episodic hypersomnia and cognitive or mood changes. Many patients also experience hyperphagia, hypersexuality, and other symptoms. Patients generally experience recurrent episodes of the condition for more than a decade and may return at a later age. Individual events last typically more than a week, sometimes lasting for months. The disease significantly affects the personal, professional, and social lives of sufferers. The severity of symptoms and the course of the syndrome vary between sufferers. Patients commonly have about 20 episodes over about a decade. Several months generally elapse between events.

Patients with Kleine–Levin syndrome (KLS) experience recurring events of prolonged sleep (hypersomnia). In most cases, patients sleep 15 to 21 hours a day during events. Excessive appetite (hyperphagia) and unusual cravings are present in half to two-thirds of cases. About half of patients, mainly male patients, experience dramatically increased sexual urges (hypersexuality). Several other symptoms usually accompany the syndrome, including marked changes in mood and cognitive ability. Derealization and severe apathy are present in at least 80 percent of cases. About one-third of patients experience hallucinations or delusions. Depression and anxiety occur less commonly; one study found them in about 25 percent of patients. Individuals usually cannot remember what happened during episodes. Repetitive behaviors and headaches are widely reported. Some patients act very childlike during incidents, and communication skills and coordination sometimes suffer. To gain further insight into this issue, we spoke to several of the top lawyers in the State of Michigan.

While most people will not admit it, criminal law is big business. There is a plan to place people in county jails and to send defendants to the Michigan Department of Corrections. That plan is not always punishment; it is also employment. In our criminal justice system, there is a lot of money that is spent on court costs, salaries for those on our bench, probation officers, prosecutors, and public defenders. The reality is that economics does play a role in people being incarcerated. With the advent of COVID-19, the cost to house inmates has risen dramatically.  With so many different agendas going on in our criminal justice system, there is some debate over whether safety and economics are colliding.?

Before COVID-19, the average cost to house an inmate in the state of Michigan was $35,809 per year.  In the federal prison system, the average price was $34,704.12 before the coronavirus.  Since COVID-19, the cost of medicine has gone up dramatically. With the danger of judicial economy being compromised, we are left to wonder how our legal system will handle this situation. To dig deeper into this situation, we have spoken to several attorneys in our state.

Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  McManus has found success with his research on both the state and federal levels and has examined this issue at length. McManus stated, “On its face, there does not appear to be a big difference between the costs of state and federal incarceration. However, if you look deeper into the analysis, we see that Michigan did away with good time credit. When legislation was passed, eliminating good time credit, the government assured longer prison states.  This was a plan to create employment at the Michigan Department of Corrections and also provided a higher rate of taxes for the citizens of our state.”

The Sentence Agreement is a friend of the criminal defense lawyer.  A sentence agreement is a concept that can take the guessing out of what sentence a defendant will receive when a plea is made. The two types of sentence agreements that are used in the state of Michigan are the Killebrew and the Cobbs Agreement.

At first glance, the terms Killebrew and Cobbs sound like the names of famous baseball players (Ty Cobb and Harmon Killebrew.  The difference between the two agreements can be the difference between freedom and incarceration.  Let’s begin by discussing the less powerful of the two concepts:  The Killebrew Agreement.

The Killebrew Agreement is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defense attorney.  The plea deal will be presented to the sentencing judge after the Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) is completed.  If the judge refuses to follow the agreement, the defendant has a right to withdraw the plea and pursue a trial.

When someone is suspected of a crime, it is often a time of great frustration.  The fear and anxiety set in and one questions whether or not they will have their freedom taken away.  Many people feel that talking to the police and cooperating is a smart move.  The reality is that nothing can be further from the truth.  How and what you should vary from county to county.  To provide a general overview of this topic, we are going to discuss how the Michigan State Police handle interrogation and what you should know about protecting yourself and your freedom.

   “The Reid Technique”

When the Michigan State Police do an interrogation, they utilize “The Reid Technique,” which is a form of questioning that has led to many false confessions.  “Reid” was used in cases such as “The West Memphis Three,” Brendan Dassey, and “The Central Park Five,” all of which led to a false confession and innocent people that became incarcerated.

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.”

Who would’ve thought that listening to lyrics could lead to incarceration? Is it possible that song lyrics could be deemed as a party admission in a court of law? Where does the line between the first amendment’s freedom of speech and one’s fifth amendment right not to incriminate one’s self collide?  This is an issue that we are dealing with in different counties in the State of Michigan.

The phenomenon of listening to rap lyrics to cause one to be arrested is an issue that has gained momentum over the past three years. In Wayne County, Michigan, where many aspiring rappers reside, the issue has become one of considerable controversy. Today, we will discuss the issue both nationally and in the Metro-Detroit, Michigan area.

“The National Issue”

The Michigan criminal justice system has continued a trend of an array of specialty courts to serve our community. The leader of these courts is “Drug Court,” which allows those with addictions to drugs and alcohol to potentially preserve their futures. The goal of “Drug Court” is to offer an option to incarceration for those that are genuinely in need of help and desire to make a change. How are “Drug Courts” handled across the state depends on several factors.  The goal today is to provide insight into how “Drug Court” works and the requirements involved.

When we look at “Drug Court” from a broad perspective, it is not an easy program to become a part of. There are strict requirements, and the participants are held to very high standards. If one does not graduate from “Drug Court,” they are generally faced with severe punishment. The point of harsh punishment is to motivate the participants to strive towards success in the program. While Michigan speaks of uniformity of law, the application of drug court and specialty courts, in general, is different from county to county. We talked to different several of the top attorneys in the State of Michigan to gain their insight into the issue.

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County and provided insight into the issue when he said, “Drug Court is a great opportunity. When we have a client that is a good fit for Drug Court, we approach it in a far different view than most other attorneys. We have a 6-point plan that we put into effect, and our success rate in helping clients has increased since Matthew McManus developed the concept.”

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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