Even Police Can Be Charged with Crimes
A Macomb County Sheriff’s Sergeant was charged with a violation of the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network (LIEN). LIEN is a statewide computerized information network that contains the criminal history of anyone who has been charged or convicted of a crime.
The Sheriff’s Sgt. David Willis was arraigned in the 41B District Court in Clinton Township, Macomb County. He was given a $10,000 personal bond (this means Sgt. Willis does not have to post money so that he can be released). A violation of unauthorized or improper access to LIEN is a misdemeanor with a maximum possible sentence of 93 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Any jail sentence would be served in the Macomb County Jail. It is unknown at this point why Sgt. Willis is alleged to have accessed the LIEN network, but he likely did it for profit or personal gain in some way. A police officer could use LIEN to find personal information or a criminal history for use against someone in a lawsuit. The Michigan State Police were asked to investigate the alleged violation.
The disturbing thing about this story is that the Sgt. David Willis is still working on active duty at the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department. Although we would hope that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” would be applied to Sgt. Willis and all other defendants, it is apparent that this constitutional principle is reserved only for Macomb County VIPs. Defendants in criminal cases are regularly presumed to be guilty by law enforcement, courts, judges and prosecutors. The courts treat civilian defendants as second class citizens. Prosecutors regularly take a position those merely charged with crimes are dangers to the public or are deserving of excessive bond conditions.
The State Police have accused the sheriff of violating a law that is designed to protect the public. In this particular case, considering that Sgt. Willis is still employed and acting as a Sheriff’s Deputy, it’s clear that the criminal justice system is treating one of its own with special rules. The Sheriff’s been charged with violating a law that is designed to protect the public yet it is apparent the prosecutor didn’t ask for a bond condition that the Sheriff should not have access to the LIEN network. Typically courts and prosecutors have no hesitation in ordering that a man who is charged with a first offense domestic violence misdemeanor, who has no criminal history, no history of violence, and a good reputation, be removed from his home and have his access to his children limited. This scenario occurs to domestic violence defendants in district and circuit courts in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, and Washtenaw Counties on an everyday basis.
The same rules should apply to all defendants and law enforcement officers who are charged with violating the law.
Aggressive Defense for Misdemeanor and Felony Charges
Because the court system frequently mistreats defendants, it takes a fearless defense lawyer to stand up to prosecutors and judges who have lost sight of the Constitution’s protections. Retained and court-appointed lawyers who fail to stand up and fight for the protection of their clients’ rights contribute to the denial of due process. If the defense attorney is unwilling or unable to fight for his or her client, no one else is going to do it.
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