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Waiting 17 years for trial is not adequate basis for civil claim against Prosecutor or County

Buxton Craig Heyerman was convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct ("CSC") in January of 1988.  Six months later, the Michigan Court of Appeals reviewed his conviction and found that substantial error required reversal. It threw out the conviction and informed the Prosecutor, the Circuit Court and Heyerman's attorney.  The Trial Court filed an acknowledgement of the reversal in its Registry of Actions.   Nevertheless, no official took any action, and Heyerman remained a "pre-trial detainee" until he filed his own writ of habeus corpus that was granted by the Federal Court in 2007.  By then, "pre-trial detainee" Heyerman had served 17 years of his 20-year sentence.  The trial court ruled that Heyerman's Sixth Amendment "right to speedy trial" had been violated and dismissed the claims against him.   Prosecutor's office did not appeal that ruling and he was released.  He sued.

The Sixth Circuit held that the individuals involved in responding to the reversal of Heyerman's conviction enjoyed complete immunity--even from their purely ministerial errors-- and dismissed Heyerman's complaint.  Of course, the gut reaction is to assume that Heyerman was a rapist and rightly convicted, originally, despite the fact that the Appellate Court found substantial defects and prejudice in his original trial.  We hope that is the case, since otherwise a completely innocent man gave up 17 years of his life because of public offificials' dereliction of duty. 

In any event, there is no disputing that Heyerman lost the 17 years and that no court ever found him guilty on the basis of a fair trial.  And now he won't be able to prove his innocence and secure compensation.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262