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The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees every criminally accused the right to a trial by an impartial jury. Likewise, every state in the union, including Michigan, has a similar provision in their respective constitutions. No matter what state you are in—you have the right to a trial by jury. However, a troubling development has strengthened where the “collateral costs” of going to trial have forced the majority of defendants to engage in plea bargaining, even when they are innocent, and forego their Constitutional right to a trial…Read More

Have you been charged with “criminal sexual conduct”, the Michigan statutory term for rape or molestation? If so, then the psychological history of your accuser could go a long way towards determining the truthfulness of the allegations, and her true motivation for bringing the allegations of sexual assault. Certainly, women report instances of rape because they were in fact sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, the number of false allegations of sexual assault is huge – even the Department of Justice acknowledges that sexual assault is the most over reported crime, with false…Read More

Are the laws surrounding possession of child pornography draconian and over the top? Are the sentencing guidelines and the resulting sentences for possessing child pornography excessive? At least one federal judge may believe so. In a recent New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/22/nyregion/22judge.html) , Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York (http://www.nyed.uscourts.gov/index.cfm), explained his reasoning. While he obviously does not approve of child pornography, he believes that defendants accused of mere possession, as opposed to those who produce and distribute the offensive material, are…Read More

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every person accused of a crime the right to “confront” and cross examine the witnesses against him in court. The United States Supreme Court has emphasized over the years that except in the most extreme circumstances, this guarantee requires face to face confrontation in an open courtroom. However, when it comes to allegations of sexual assault against minors, trial courts will frequently try to take shortcuts; and in one recent case, a majority of the Michigan Supreme Court turned a blind…Read More

A Federal Judge dismissed the serious charges against seven members of the Michigan Militia Group known as the Hutaree yesterday in a 28-page opinion and order. The Defense team of Mark Satawa, Bill Swor, Jim Thomas, Art Weiss, Mike Rataj, Rick Helfrick, Todd Shanker, Henry Scharg, Mike Naughton, and Harry Mihas, had filed a series of Rule 29 Motions for Directed Motions on Friday, followed by a full day hearing on Monday. The Judge ruled that the defendant’s actions were protected by the 1st Amendment rights to free speech and…Read More

Michigan appellate courts continue to ignore the need to protect the rights of the accused and prevent false convictions of the innocent in sex crimes cases. In April, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals said “plainly erroneous” jury instructions were insufficient to overturn the conviction of Jeffrey Eisen on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. This follows a Michigan Supreme Court decision last July declaring that a “constitutional error” in misinforming a jury was not grounds to reverse a sex crimes conviction. Eisen was tried and convicted…Read More

On January 13, 2011, Mark A. Satawa presented along with attorney Joe Simon of Simon & Geherin PLLC for the Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminar on Proven Defense Strategies for Challenging Criminal Sexual Conduct Cases. The seminar was moderated by attorney Novia M. Gonzalez-Nichols of Gonzalez-Nichols & Nichols. The seminar was described by ICLE as a “fast-paced, entertaining webcast featuring leading criminal defense experts discussing their tried and true practical tips for defending criminal sexual conduct cases.” The seminar covered a wide range of practical topics and practice hints on defending child sexual assault…Read More

I have been charged in Federal Court with a “Complaint”? What does that mean, and what will happen? Whether you are a first time offender or a career criminal, these questions can cripple any federal defendant. Not knowing the answers to these questions can make it difficult for you to sleep or leave you unable to eat as you worry about what your future might be. All of these are natural responses when you have unanswered questions about pending federal criminal charges. In this blog, I will address the legal…Read More

The case against actor and comedian Bill Cosby recently brought one of the most controversial issues in criminal law into the forefront of the public’s mind. That is, whether a jury should hear about someone’s past conduct at trial? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in Cosby’s case, focusing on this very question. As highlighted by this article (Link: http://detroitnews.mi.newsmemory.com/?publink=0d36ccde8) this debate has been central to the high profile prosecutions of Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and other public figures. Importantly, however, it frequently becomes an issue in the average, run…Read More

News of six men accused of planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Esther Whitmer has been circling news outlets for the past few days. They were allegedly plotting to kidnap Whitmer outside of her northern Michigan vacation home. One of the accused is Ty Garbin and attorney Mark Satawa of Satawa Law PLLC has been hired by his family to represent him in federal court. Mr. Satawa will be part of the defense team, as they seek pretrial release for Mr. Garbin at his continued detention hearing on Friday, October…Read More

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