Civil rights and police misconduct cases*
These cases are difficult, and few law firms handle them well. The law of governmental immunity is complex, and the Courts have limited the circumstances under which you can sue the police or government, in general. We accept these cases as a challenge to our liberty to be free from bad government. The key to all civil rights cases is pre-filing investigation, if time permits. Each civil rights case is an important exercise of citizenship. We, and our clients, act as the conscience of the community.
wrongful murder Conviction/Civil Rights abuse: $2 million resolution
McCollum v Bahl, et al., United States District Court, Western District of Michigan (2010). Plaintiff was wrongfully convicted of the murder of a Lansing Community College Professor, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Extensive discovery uncovered significant details not only showing the innocence of McCollum but errors in the prosecution, and that he was essentially framed for the murder with innocence-proving evidence buried and kept from the defense, and improper handling of evidence, among other major findings. A two-million dollar resolution for Plaintiff, and major press coverage over this travesty of justice.
sheriff interferes with cold water drowning rescue: $600,00 verdict ($1 million settlement)
A young man was pushed, or jumped, off a bridge in Manistee after drinking. Two local scuba divers arrived at the scene but were told not to attempt a rescue. An hour later, the sheriff dive team performed a body recovery, but it was too late. We proved that the Sheriff had a “turf war” with local divers, and threatened them not to rescue drowning victims. This case lasted 9 years. We filed 2 successful appeals of adverse rulings. We retained the best experts (US Coast Guard Director of Safety; US Dive Rescue Training Director). The key to the case was believing the client’s story and asking, “How could our government allow something like this to happen?” We believed, and proved, the client’s unbelievable story was true. We went through two trials, two appeals, and after the $600,000 verdict, we settled the case for $1 million
jail sexual assault: $175,000 settlement
A female inmate was forced to have sexual contact with a jailer, which is a crime in Michigan. We proved the jailer had a prior incident, and that other guards knew it was happening but did nothing.
* These civil rights cases and police misconduct cases are chosen from many more to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.