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Mike’s Musings– Courts, lawyers- quit stalling

Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor

Mike WilcoxThere never was a more truthful saying than, “THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE TURN SLOWLY.” Many have proposed an overhauling of our court system, and I for one, would start by demanding speedier trials.

I am sympathetic to the victims of crime who must wait years to see their perpetrators found guilty. I feel bad for the spouses and relatives who cannot have closure until a judge or jury finds someone guilty. In my opinion, letting these cases go on and on, is almost as great a sin as the crime committed.

By way of example, criminal cases in the Bronx, average 988 days before they are tried. 988 days is almost 3 years. That isn’t fair to either side- the victim or the defendant. I always thought the 6th Amendment guaranteed all Americans to a speedy trial. Guess that doesn’t apply nowadays.

It hasn’t been 988 days, but the Grabon case had taken much longer than it should. If we recall, toddler Payton Grabon was found dead in a Falmouth home on December 18, 2012. Brittani Grabon, Payton’s mother, was arrested on May 2, 2013, and her first preliminary exam was May 16, with a second day if needed, scheduled for May 17.

As is customary in these types of cases, the defense went into “drag out” mode. The judge postponed the second day because the defense claimed it needed more time to review the evidence. The pre-trial re-convened on May 30, whereby (which was a foregone conclusion) Grabon was bound over to Circuit Court, with the next hearing starting June 25.

Oops that didn’t happen. This time both the prosecution and defense asked for more time to review the transcripts of the previous hearings. The judge postponed the hearing until August 5. But again, defense attorneys asked for more time and were granted another 45 days.

This could play out for some quite time until the judge puts his foot down and proclaims no more postponements. I don’t understand why it takes so long to review documents. I don’t understand why this culture of delay has been allowed to exist. It is utterly ridiculous.

But here it is again in the Floyd Dennis murder case.  Although this one is shrouded in secrecy, Dennis, the Harrison School Board treasurer was murdered inside a Temple cabin. Picked up and charged with the crime was Oanh Bass, his alleged girlfriend/gambling partner.

I say shrouded with secrecy because it has been difficult to get court documents, which has led many to believe that the Court doesn’t want the public to know all the intricacies of the case. Defense Attorney Todd Flood, well known in Detroit circles having tried many profile cases, has been granted several delays.

The preliminary hearing began on May 29, 2013. After the day’s testimony, Flood asked for a two month delay. Not a week, not one month, but two months. The judge granted the request. The hearing reconvened and after the second day, Flood again asked for a delay. It was expected the hearing would reconvene in late August, but that hasn’t happened, nor has there been a date set for the continuance.

I repeat utterly ridiculous. Judges need to take control of their courtroom and docket.

Although this is not a murder case, it’s still one that raises the hair on the back of my neck. In mid-July, the Baker family, owners of a pig farm between Marion and McBain found themselves in court against the DNR. The DNR is demanding that the Bakers get rid of their 70 Mangalista pigs, because they are considered an invasive species. The penalty for not doing so is $700,000.
The DNR and the Bakers have refused to back down. Their case ended up in court where both parties have asked for summary judgment. In front of a packed Missaukee County courtroom, the judge heard arguments for several hours. The Bakers and the audience were hoping the judge would rule that day.

Nope, they hoped wrong. The judge proclaimed the case was complicated and he had to do further study before making a ruling. Okay that was in mid-July. It’s now September and still no ruling. What could possibly take so long?

Oh I forgot, it is the culture of the Court and those who practice in front of it, to stall, and then stall some more. For heaven’s sake, do you think we in private business would get anywhere, if we did the same?

 

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