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In The News

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mike Nichols Reacts: New Published Caselaw Recognizes The Contempt Procedure for Bond Violations

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols

The Michigan Court of Appeaks addressed an issue that will affect thousands of people charged with drunk driving: use of the Contenpt of Court procedure for addressing allegations that a person on a "no alcohol" bond condition used alcohol, Michigan DUI attorney Mike Nichols says: "more and more judges are using blanket bond orders that all people charged with drunk or drugged driving in their court may not use any alcohol or controlled substances including a prescription medication as a condition of pretrial release." The case just released called People v Mysliwiec says that trial courts may punish a person on bond with criminal contempt (93 days maximum) if the person violates a condition of bond.

In the Mysliwiec case, the accused citizen was ordered at his arraignment to refrain from use of alcohol. The factual development is scant but the opinion indicates that Mr. Mysliwiec tested positive for alcohol twice. His attorneys argued to the Court of Appeals that this violation could not be punished by contempt of court because he was not warned that a bond violation could be punished by contempt of court. The lawyer for Mr. Mysliwiec also argued that a different provision of the bond statute requires a police officer to draft a complaint, serve it on him and summon him to court. Nichols says "they also argued that he was entitled to a reasonable bond. Surprisingly, the Court of Appeals rejected that argument. The Court cited to a provision of the bond rule that allows for the revocation of a conditional bond for a violation. That rule does not say 'revoked entirely' or 'revoked pending further proceedings' - and so it leaves the legal landscape pretty gray especially when the whole purpose of the rules are to allow people to have pretrial relelase."

The appellate court opinion recognizes that there are requirements for bond revocation proceedings. Specifically, the Court cited to cases that say that a prosecutor must prove that the accused willfully and deliberately disregarded a court order. Further, "Contempt must be clearly and unequivocally shown. Id. “Imprisonment for criminal contempt is appropriate where a defendant does something he was ordered not to do.” In re Contempt of Dudzinski, 257 Mich App 96, 108; 667 NW2d 68 (2003)." (Slip Op at pp 1-2)

Nichols believes that this case heralds the need for reform of these procedures: "without an individual determination of each person's need for specific bond conditions of abstinence from a controlled substance, including alcohol, the courts will swell with mini trials of people who are charged with violating these bond conditions if they are blanketly imposed across the board to everyone charged with a particular type of offense such as operating under the influence of alcohol or operating under the influence of prescription medication."

Mike Nichols and the lawyers at the Nichols Law Firm track developments in the law and they are committed to results. Contact them at 517.432.9000

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.