At a Glance

Nominations sought for MDTC award

The Michigan Defense Trial Counsel is currently accepting nominations for the Seventh Annual Young Lawyers Section Golden Gavel Award, which will be presented next May during the MDTC Awards Banquet at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant.

Nominations, with particular emphasis on the enumerated criteria, are welcome along with letters of recommendation from any source which supports the candidate.

Candidates need not be a current member of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, however, each must be a member in good standing with the State Bar of Michigan, and serve as defense counsel.

The deadline for nominations is January 11, 2011.

For the nomination form, visit

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High court gives new life to lawsuit

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has reversed itself again and reinstated a lawsuit that challenges the system of appointing lawyers for criminal defendants who can’t afford them.

The key difference is Justice Alton Davis, who was appointed to the court in August but soon will leave after losing the recent election. He was part of the 4-3 majority Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims that the rights of poor people have been violated because the paltry pay given to court-appointed lawyers routinely forces defendants into plea bargains.

The Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in July without considering the merits of the allegations.

That was three months after it had unanimously sent the case back to the trial judge for more work on whether it should be granted class-action status.

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Man needs new lawyer in dispute with SEC

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan money manager accused of fraud needs fresh legal help after his attorney was convicted in North Carolina.

A federal judge in Detroit has temporarily suspended the government’s civil case against John Bravata. A status conference is set for Jan. 18.

The Securities and Exchange Commission accuses Bravata of running a $53 million real-estate investment scam from his offices in Southfield. He denies it.

Bravata had been represented by attorney Greg Bartko of Berkeley Lake, Ga. But Bartko was recently convicted in a financial fraud case in Raleigh, N.C. It’s separate and unrelated to Bravata’s dispute with the SEC.

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Man gets 40 years in $71M Ponzi scheme

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man who ran a $71 million Ponzi scheme that swindled dozens of investors, including former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Sean Michael Mueller received the maximum sentence this week for theft, fraud and racketeering.

The 42-year-old former hedge fund manager pleaded guilty to the charges in November.

Prosecutors say the plea agreement includes restitution of $65.46 million.

Authorities say 65 people invested $71 million with the company over 10 years, but it had $9.5 million in assets and $45 million in liabilities in April.

Elway told the court that he and a business partner gave Mueller $15 million in March.