Mike Nichols Inspiring Teamwork

by baronedefensefirm on May 11, 2011

Team Work

Make no mistake about it, what Mike Nichols accomplished in obtaining his order of suppression in the Jabrocki case is nothing short of astonishing.  It might also be a source of inspiration for all of us, but before I tell all of you about the backdrop of this victory; let me first tell you about the Red Wings.  Please indulge me in this as I often use sports analogies to metaphorically explain to others what happens in the court room.

Last night the Red Wings pulled-off another unbelievable victory against an impressive opponent.  The Wings are trying to do what only three teams have ever done in NFL history – come back from a 3 – 0 deficit to win a playoff series.  Last night they tied the series at 3 games each.  It was perhaps the best hockey game I’ve ever seen.  The intensity was incredible, and even when it looked like the Wings would lose again, they pulled it off, got another victory; and put themselves in a position to win the cup.  They did it through great leadership, coaching, and great teamwork and by simply having the gritty determination to never give up.  Even when faced with great odds.

Mike Nichols did the same thing in winning his suppression motion based on the Michigan Lab’s failure to report uncertainty.   Like the Red Wings facing a 3-0 deficit, Mike was facing a .30 blood test result.  How many of us would have the gritty determination to take on a number that high?  The prosecutor did everything he could to block Mike’s efforts, just as the Shark’s goal tender did everything possible last night to keep the Wings from scoring. But like the Wings, Mike never gave up.

One inspiring and important thing Mike did, and something we can all learn from, is reached-out to his colleagues in his own State and others.  As lawyers we are by nature extremely competitive and as it turns out, Mike and I do “compete” for clients.  But that didn’t stop Mike from reaching out to me to assist him with this case.  He even asked me to co-counsel the case (due to scheduling and distance this was not tenable for me).  Think about that for a minute.  Here is Mike Nichols’ opportunity to obtain a huge victory and most of us, in the face of that, would want to keep all the accolades, all the glory for ourselves.  Certainly, we wouldn’t want to share the spotlight with another DUI lawyer.  But Mike made this offer because he knew the potential significance of the ruling for all of us, and he wanted to do everything possible to assure a positive outcome, both for his client and for the defense community.  Mike and I have discussed this concept on several occasions and we agree that we are all Constitutional warriors in same army.  We fight on the same team, and when we fight together, we’re tough to beat.  Too often I think we forget this.

In looking at the case and his own knowledge and skill level, Mike was aware that his understanding of science was not what he wanted or needed it to be, so he aligned himself with a toxicology expert who was, in his own words “whispering in his ear” as the case progressed.  He talked and emailed Ted Vosk regularly to discuss the case and the science of measurement and uncertainly.  He immersed himself in the science, and as the case progressed over several weeks Mike shared transcripts and articles with me, and he and I discussed the science; and we strategized and hypothesized on various aspects of his hearing, including his cross-examination of Dr. Adatsi.

Mike also had a co-counsel to assist him in court.  Someone not well known as a DUI expert, but someone who could help Mike with the science in court room; again demonstrating that he was willing to share the spot-light in a way that would increase his odds of winning.

Mike won because he never gave up, and because he knew what he didn’t know, worked hard to learn the science, then assembled a team to assist him.  While this may not be at the level of team-work displayed by the source-code battle fought by Evan Levow, the HGN battle fought by Don Ramsell and many other similar examples; it is nevertheless something from which we can all gain inspiration.

Working together we can win these battles, even against what seem like (and often are) unbelievable odds. And sometimes, as Mike and the Wings have shown us, coming from behind and “forcing a game seven,” even against a talented opponent, is possible.  But sometimes it requires nothing less than great leadership, coaching, teamwork and simply having the gritty determination to never give up.

For more information read: 10,000 plus DUI Cases Now in Jeopardy Due to Laboratory Deficiency


This post was written by...

– who has written 204 posts on Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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