Does Judge Qiana Lillard fear more Court of Appeals opinions chastising her for her rulings?

Lillard ignores U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCoy v. Louisiana that the defendant has rights under the Constitution, while atty. is only the assistant

Defense atty. Schulman ignored Lewis’ on-the-record pleading  to appeal judge’s certification of “facsimile” file in place of 23 years of lost court records, deleted Register of Actions

Charles K.K. Lewis on courtroom video March 8, 2019.

Schulman: “You have to have a file to have a mitigation hearing;” a mitigation hearing is also needed to sentence juvenile lifer to LWOP

Lewis–“I’m actually innocent, so I have a very unique situation. You refused to acknowledge the actual innocence motion (Schulman)  filed for me so that means that you’re not going to deal with it in mitigation. That means we have to open the door for the little kids coming behind me who didn’t have nothing to do with it so they can raise that issue as well.”

By Diane Bukowski

March 26, 2019

DETROIT-– “I believe this Court and both attorneys are trying to trap me here to stop my access to higher courts that will overturn this court’s rulings,” says Charles K.K. Lewis regarding his upcoming hearing Friday, March 29 at 10 a.m. in front of Judge Qiana Lillard.

He adds however, “I have to remember in spite of how bad I may think that things are for me that they are better for me than they are for Jabo, Gray-Bey and a host of brothers here serving life that will never get out of prison. So, I’m thankful to even be in the fight for my freedom.”

This hearing will be the FORTY-THIRD in Lewis’ juvenile lifer re-sentencing, which began three years ago on March 2, 2016. The early hearings were spent taking repeated, duplicative testimony from court officers that Lewis’ official court records along with his Register of Actions were LOST LOST LOST, and had been since sometime after 2012. 

Lewis cited legal precedents indicating his case should be dismissed as a result, but Lillard ordered the defense, prosecution and Clerk’s office to share their records to recreate a file.

Lewis objected loudly that turning his records over to the prosecution violated attorney-client privilege as well as a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that a criminal record cannot be reconstructed.

Repeated hearings were then held with various defense attorneys, including one Lewis paid specifically to argue for dismissal of his case because of the lost files. 

“In my decades in Michigan’s prisons, I have never ever seen a post-conviction hearing go on this long,” commented Ricardo Ferrell, who also writes for the Voice of Detroit. 

Above is video of oral arguments on Harold Walker case in front of the Michigan Supreme Court, with SADO defense attorney Adrienne Young representing Walker. Justices Bridget McCormack, Richard Bernstein, and David Viviano expressed shock at Judge Lillard’s conduct during Walker trial. One Justice suggested referral to the Judicial Tenure Commision.

On May 8, defense attorney Sanford Schulman and Judge Lillard barreled ahead with preparations for a mitigation hearing despite the lost records. At the request of AP Tom Dawson, Lillard had certified what she termed a “facsimile” record. Lewis entered his request on the court record asking to Schulman to appeal the certification, but Schulman and the court ignored his request. Lewis says however that his filing made a record for the Court of Appeals, as did five other motions Schulman filed which were summarily denied by Lillard

AP Tom Dawson and defense atty. Sanford Schulman March 8, 2019.

“You have to have a file to have a mitigation hearing,” Schulman told VOD outside the courtroom. He neglected to say that a mitigation hearing is also required to re-sentence a juvenile lifer to life without parole. Without it, a term of years or dismissal are the only other options.

Judge Lillard said that her order of Nov. 11, 2016 did not actually deny Lewis a term of years sentence or dismissal of his case, one reason he has cited for not believing she will re-sentence him to anything other than LWOP. She called it a “captioning” issue. For full clarification, read the actual order at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Judge-Lillard-order-reconstructing-Charles-Lewis-file-1-compressed-1.pdf

Judge Lillard told Schulman March 8, “You’re representing a client and he has the interest but you’re still the lawyer;  and I know that Mr. Lewis says he’s been practicing law for over 40 years, and to some extent he has been because he had to fight for himself, but the reality is that he lacks the formal training and he lacks the expertise that you have.”

In fact, Lewis earned a paralegal certificate during his tenure in the MDOC, as well as an associate’s degree in general studies, and has taken numerous other courses. He worked as clerk in several law libraries where he researched not only his case but those of other prisoners. He began studying law as a 17-year-old falsely convicted of the murder of an off-duty police officer.

Robert McCoy

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“I figured the law got me in here, so I would have to study it to get out,” Lewis says.

The U.S. Supreme Court contradicted Lillard’s assessment in McCoy v. Louisiana (2018), when it overturned a death sentence handed out to Robert McCoy because his trial attorney, against McCoy’s vigorous demands,  pled him guilty hoping to avoid the death penalty. The jury handed out the death penalty anyway.

U.S. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote, “The Sixth Amendment guarantees to each criminal defendant “the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. . . . The choice is not all or nothing: To gain assistance, a defendant need not surrender control entirely to counsel. For the Sixth Amendment, in “grant[ing] to the accused personally the right to make his defense,” “speaks of the ‘assistance’ of counsel, and an assistant, however expert, is still an assistant. . . 

“Trial management is the lawyer’s province: Counsel provides his or her assistance by making deci­sions such as ‘what arguments to pursue, what eviden­tiary objections to raise, and what agreements to conclude regarding the admission of evidence.’ Gonzalez v. United States, 553 U. S. 242, 248 (2008). Some decisions, however, are reserved for the client—notably, whether to plead guilty, waive the right to a jury trial, testify in one’s own behalf, and forgo an appeal.”

The address given for Insights Mitigation is this home at 12327 E. Warren, MI. (Google photo)

During the May 8 hearing, Schulman argued that he had spent a great deal of time hiring two experts for Lewis’ mitigation hearing. 

The first, Gayl Amalfitano (whose name Schulman could not pronounce properly) in fact presented a highly questionable resume in which she claimed she obtained a degree in criminal justice from Macomb Community College. That institution  currently lists only nine hours of criminal justice classes and awards only associates’ certificates, but not in criminal justice. 

Amalfitano’s resume says she has worked for owner-operated Insights Mitigation at 12327 E. Eleven Mile Rd. in Warren since 2017. The company is not registered on the state’s business entity listing in the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Previously, she says she worked for The Insights Group at the same address. An Insights Group is registered with LARA, but it’s location is listed in Brighton, MI with a resident agent named Sandra Maki.

She lists dozens of death penalty and juvenile lifer cases she claims to have worked on, only by name and case number, with no particulars regarding what she did. See her resume at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Gayl-Amalfitano-resume.pdf

Compare it to the sample resume included in Michigan Justice Institute benchbook on juvenile lifer mitigation hearings at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Carol-Kolinchak-cv.pdf. Kolinchak was originally hired by Schulman to handle Lewis’ case. Schulman refused to hire another expert Lewis found who had handled mitigation hearings in situations where the defendants claimed innocence.

Rev. Aaron McCarthy, Pres. Detroit SCLC/Linked In photo

Amalfitano told Schulman she had interviewed Lewis’ alibi witnesses when she worked at Sunshine Investigations. Her name does not appear on any of the agency’s reports. But its last report, on an interview with band member Aaron McCarthy is a telling affirmation of Lewis’ alibi that he was performing with the “Pure Pleasure” band at a hall during the night the off-duty police officer was killed. His trial attorney never contacted any of the band members. See report at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Email-from-Sunshine-Investigations-05-20-2014_29638_.pdf

The second expert, a polygraph examiner, is J. Paul Carey of J. Paul Carey Consulting in Utica, MI. Carey was a career detective with the Sterling Heights Police Department and heads the Michigan Association of Polygraph Examiners, whose members include many current and former police officers from cities in Southeast Michigan.

Is this expert a good unbiased pick to examine a man convicted of the murder of a Detroit Police Officer? Schulman told VOD that a polygraph examiner would be the first expert hired for Lewis’ mitigation hearing. Nothing in the literature on juvenile lifer mitigation hearings suggests using polygraph examiners.

Related documents:

Court of Appeals dissenting opinion in Harold Lamont Walker case, pending Michigan Supreme Court review.http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-H-L-WALKER-dissenting.pdf

Court of Appeals opinion castigating Judge Lillard for racial anti-immigrant comments in Christobal DeLeon case: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Lillard-People-v-DeLeon-2.pdf

Court of Appeals opinion in Floyd Pennington case: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/People-of-Michigan-COA-Floyd-Ray-Pennington.pdf

Court of Appeals opinion in Derek James Smith case: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Lillard-People-v-Smith.pdf


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  1. Jane Doe says:

    Hello, I guess I am just shocked by this. Sadly I am left to wonder the race of these defendants who argue bias. My husband had Judge Lillard on his case. Typically a Judge is randomly picked by the computer system… I am guessing this is to prevent bias. This did not happen in my husbands case. However, I am white so I can not argue bias although it is as clear as day.
    After what has happened to my husband, I have spent a lot of my time being angry and wondering why my husband and I were labeled Nazi’s. Throughout my entire life I have done everything in my power to help the less fortunate and so has my husband. He is currently serving years in prison for a crime completely based on hearsay. More importantly a crime where no one was physically injured in any way. My family has accepted the punishment regardless of how unfair.
    So my point is that this is the culture of Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. I am disgusted by how many people cry bias. I genuinely feel sorry for you because I am proof that this Judge favors African Americans. The system is broken for all of us, if you face any truth in your lives I hope that will be it one day. Thanks.

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