As a busy Michigan DUI lawyer whose drunk driving practice focuses on Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties, one of the busiest places I go to is the 52-3 district court in Rochester Hills. Beyond cases arising in Rochester and Rochester Hills, his 3-Judge facility handles all the criminal and DUI matters for 9 other municipalities, including Addison Township, Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus, Oakland Township, Orion Township, Oxford Township, Village of Lake Orion, Village of Leonard and the Village of Oxford. When you just skip over the township and village designations, it only makes sense that any court covering thriving places like Auburn Hills, Lake Orion and Rochester handles a lot of drinking and driving cases, and this court certainly does.
This is a tough court. The reader is almost certainly here because either he or she is facing a DUI, or is looking for relevant DUI information on behalf of someone close. However one gets to this blog, it has been a cornerstone of my writing to try and provide useful information. To start any discussion of Rochester Hills 52-3 district court without first acknowledging that it is widely known as “tough” is to ignore reality to such a degree that anything said thereafter is essentially useless. If you’re facing a DUI charge in this court, you are going to have some work to do. The good news is that this court has no “policy,” or even practice, of sending anyone to jail in 1st offense drinking and driving cases. Moreover, as far as any notion of jail goes, this court is not, by most standards, in any way excessive about it, even in 2nd offense DUI cases.
Probation, however, is a big thing in this court, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a probation department, anywhere, that has a stable of probation officers with nearly as much education as those on staff at the 52-3 district court. And while that means your probation officer will definitely be smarter than the average bear, it also means that you’ll be expected to comply with all conditions of bond and probation as ordered by the Judge, and for what this court doesn’t hand out in terms of jail, it tends to make up with heavy duty probation. Even so, the good news is that amongst the 3 Judges, Julie Nicholson, Lisa Asadorian and Nancy Carniak, there is no “meanness.” None of these Judges has an axe to grind, but merely the very reasonable expectation that DUI drivers don’t become repeat offenders.
The 52-3 district court became the first all-female, multi-Judge court in the Detroit area. As interesting as that may be, discussions about this court focus on everything but the gender of its Judges. This court is fast (a model of efficiency, really) and decisive. While someone may not be like the particular sentence handed down in his or her case, there is no waffling or inconsistency here, and that really goes to a point I often make that DUI and criminal cases are always accidents of geography. No one plans to go out and get pulled over for drunk driving. Thus, when it happens, the location is (or was) not any kind of consideration.
As with every court, this court has a “feel” and its own way of doing things. I believe that it is important that anyone looking to hire a lawyer makes sure all candidates are very familiar with the court in which his or her case is pending and knows the idiosyncrasies of the place and the people who work in it. For the reader looking for the “inside scoop” on this, or any other court, I’m sorry to disappoint, but it would be very undiplomatic, to put it mildly, for me to make comparisons between different courts. Even amongst the various Judges, a compliment given to one, but not another (even if such an omission was purely unintentional)., would not be a diplomatically sound thing to do. I make sure each of my clients understands all he or she should about the court in which his or her case is pending as well as the Judge presiding over it. This, after all, is part of what a client pays for.
The 52-3 district court in Rochester Hills is a good court, a fair court, and, admittedly, a bit of a tough court, as well. The Judges here are consistent, efficient and fair. For everything I have and have not said, I can perhaps best put it this way: When a new client comes in, the first thing I want to know, beyond his or her exact charge, is where the case is pending. When I learn that the client’s case is a court with a “jail happy” Judge, or some Judge who has a particular hang-up about something (like the kind of case my client has), I cannot help but feel some frustration. Fortunately, when I learn that a DUI case is pending in this court, I don’t get that feeling, and that’s a good thing, and, moreover, the kind of reaction that cannot be faked.
If you’re facing a DUI or other criminal charge in the 52-3 district court (or any court, for that matter; this advice is universal), do yourself a favor and read everything you can, then pick up the phone and call around to see how your situation is analyzed by the various lawyers you call. Of course, include my office in the calls you make; my consultations are done over the phone, right when you call. Convenience and efficiency are important because everyone’s time matters. You can reach my office Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm, at 586-465-1980. We’re here to help.