MARGARET SIND RABEN
· PARTNER, GUREWITZ & RABEN;
· CRIMINAL DEFENSE; APPELLATE
· MICHIGAN SUPER LAWYERS:
2006–2014; TOP 50 WOMEN: 2008
and as long as you get your work done,
we’re not going to confine you to 9 to 5.” It
was an awfully good way to start practice.
Q: What’s one of the challenges of your job?
A: Many times federal clients have prior
state criminal histories, so I have to know
what to look for in the documentation
on that, which is sometimes wrong. It is
not uncommon to find mistakes in the
documentation of a case. In fact, in state
criminal cases earlier than say 1980, the
paperwork, I’d say, is probably wrong a third
of the time: transcription errors, incorrect
references to charging statutes. It was at a
time when everything was done by hand.
I’ve had judges say to me, “Well, how
did this happen?” I feel like saying, “Look.
It’s your court, OK? You tell me.”
Q: Can you give me an example of a case
where this happened?
A: I had an assigned case in Oakland County,
a young African man here on a student visa
who was charged with second offense of
possession of marijuana. And this would
create some immigration problems for him.
So he’s describing to me his first case. It
was at a district court in Oakland County,
and I said to him, “Why weren’t you given
7411?” 7411 is the shorthand reference to a
drug possession diversion program that’s
available under state law. And he said to
me, “Nobody ever talked to me about that.”
Then he tells me that he declined the
appointment of an attorney because he
didn’t want to pay the $250 reimbursement.
So I went over to the district court and pulled
the file, and I’m looking at it, and it was
actually a city case, city prosecution, rather
than a state prosecution, and in the file, there
is a document that says, “Plea offer,” and it
says, “Court will consider 7411 at sentencing.”
I ordered the transcript of the sentencing
at my own expense, because there’s
never any money for any of this, and at his
sentencing, nobody said anything about
7411. The judge doesn’t say it. The city
attorney doesn’t say it. The prosecutor
doesn’t say it. Even though there’s this piece
of paper in the file.