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November 26, 2012

Griem faces fines for civil contempt of court charges

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

Robert Bashara’s former defense attorney, David Griem, will have to fork over $8,000 in attorney and court fees in connection with two civil contempt charges against him.

During a hearing Nov. 26 in front of 36th District Court Chief Judge Kenneth King, King agreed to the fines that attorneys requested for Griem’s violation of a protective order regarding discovery materials and the issuance of an improper subpoena. Griem apologized to the court and accepted responsibility for both charges at an Oct. 12 show cause hearing and said the violations were unintentional.

Griem had been accused by Wayne County prosecuting attorneys Lisa Lindsey and Robert Moran of sharing discovery materials with members of Bashara’s family, which prosecutors said violated a protective order regarding discovery materials in that case. Griem had also been accused by Susan Reed — the defense attorney representing murder suspect Joseph Gentz, whom Bashara admitted he tried to have killed — of filing a subpoena for a nonexistent case to obtain records on Gentz.

Moran argued for a fee of $200 an hour for 10 hours for the work he and Lindsey did with regard to this issue, including meetings with Reed and the presiding judge of 3rd Circuit Court.

“We spent considerably more than 10 hours (on this matter). … We think $200 an hour is reasonable,” Moran told the court.

Reed agreed with the fine request of $200 an hour for 10 hours of her time, “even though more (time) than that was expended (by me),” she said.

King felt the request was appropriate.

“This court has had extensive discussions … regarding reaching a number that is at least palatable” to those involved, the judge said.

King noted that the fines don’t impact Griem’s license to practice law, a license that until now “has been impeccable.”

“He has been an outstanding attorney,” the judge continued. “Mr. Griem’s conduct was atypical of him … but was nonetheless egregious.”

King said there were two instances in this case in which Griem “violated orders of the court.”

“Orders of the court have to be followed, or there will be chaos,” King said.

Although he didn’t elaborate, King said he understood there “may have been some extenuating circumstances Mr. Griem may have been in at the time” he violated the court orders.

Jeffrey Edison, one of Griem’s attorneys, didn’t object to the attorney fees but did ask the court to consider all of the competing interests involved and the integrity of the process.

“Given all of the different considerations … we’d ask the court ultimately to arrive at a balance that is equitable and just,” Edison said.

King said he felt the $200 an hour fee met that criteria.

He said $200 an hour was “more than reasonable. I’ve seen much lesser attorneys receive attorney fees of $300 an hour” in instances like this, King said.

In addition to $2,000 for Reed and $2,000 for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, King asked for $2,000 for each of the charges in fines for the court itself, for a total of $4,000 for the court, and $8,000 in total fines.

The fines for the court are “in no way cumulative,” King said, noting that they’ve spent more than 10 hours on these matters.

“This court has expended a number of hours of research (and) reading motions, and it’s taken up a lot of the court’s time,” he said.

The fines must be paid within 90 days. King set Feb. 26, 2013, as the deadline.

A seemingly upbeat Griem exchanged pleasantries with members of the media while members of his legal team met with King, Moran, Reed and Lindsey behind closed doors for about 30 minutes to discuss the fines before the judge issued his decision. However, after court, Griem was uncharacteristically silent, deferring to his attorneys, Edison and Ken Mogill, both of whom declined to comment on the decision.

“He’s not saying anything,” Mogill said of Griem.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.