While there is no “good” place to get a DUI, the 35th District Court
in Plymouth is as close as one could get to that ideal, at least in terms of fairness. It would be hard to find a lawyer familiar with handling DUI cases in this court who has anything
bad to say about it.
The 35th District Court exercises jurisdiction over all criminal and OWI
cases brought in the cities of Canton, Northville and Plymouth, as well as Northville Township and Plymouth Township.
Geographically speaking, this a unique area, because part of the City of Northville is actually located in Oakland County and the other part of it in Wayne County. Although the 35th District Court itself is located in Wayne County, it has original jurisdiction over all cases arising in Northville, and handles all misdemeanor cases from there.
Like many places, the cities of Plymouth and Canton share a single school district. Here, instead of operating under the name of only 1 of the cities, it uses the combined name “Plymouth/Canton.”
Consequently, people sometimes refer to everything in the area, including the 35th District Court, as “Plymouth/Canton,” although most lawyers refer to any multi-jurisdictional court by the city of its location (the notable exception being the 52-3 District Court located in Rochester Hills, but almost always called “Rochester”).
Thus, most people will simply call this court “Plymouth.”
3 veteran Judges preside over all the cases in the 35th District Court: Michael Gerou, Ronald Lowe, and James Plakas. Each brings the best combination of intelligence and intelligence to their work, and you simply won’t find a better lineup of jurists anywhere.
While Judges are critically important to how a court functions, they’re not the whole picture. Although sometimes overlooked the attitude of any court’s probation departments can have a huge - if not equal - impact on how people experience and perceive it.
In the real world, a DUI defendant (other than someone in Sobriety Court) will spend less than 10 total minutes standing before the Judge, but will spend hours dealing with his or her probation officer. A good probation officer can make all the difference in the world.
Although probation officers often have a reputation for being “tough” (after all, they are tasked with ensuring people follow the Judge’s orders), the probation department at the 35th District Court is genuinely decent.
Among other ways, this is demonstrated by the way it runs one of the very best Sobriety Court programs anywhere.
This is important. Because our practice deals so extensively with alcohol, both in the context of DUI case, and as Driver’s license restoration lawyers - where the point of each case is proving that the client has given up drinking and is a safe bet to remain sober for good - we know all about the process of getting sober.
We have, quite literally, heard thousands of stories about how our clients have gone from drinker to non-drinker. We have come to understand the struggles people have endured, including with probation orders that required them to go through what was clearly the wrong kind of education, counseling, or treatment.
In addition to that, and having completed a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies, I have both a practical and clinical understanding of the development, diagnosis, and treatment of alcohol use disorders.
My team and I understand that most people facing a 1st offense DUI do not have a drinking problem, and that many people who wind up getting a 2nd DUI are NOT out-of-control drinkers, or what one would consider an “alcoholic.”
We also know that, no matter how things can look on the outside, some people suffer in secret, and in silence.
It is important to remember that each case and each person is truly unique, and this court always seems to do that.
Unfortunately, some courts and probation departments (and, by extension, Sobriety Courts) tend to lump everyone and everything together, using a kind of “one-size-fits-all” approach.
I have repeatedly had the exact opposite experience in this court, and in complicated cases no less. I’ve had to address difficult drinking issues directly with both both probation officers and the Judges here. I have personally seen this unique kind of thoughtfulness substantially benefit my clients.
This is how things should work in DUI cases, and fortunately, that’s usually how they do in the 35th District Court.