‘50% is a disgrace.’ Attorneys critique Whitmer kidnap plot trial conviction rate

Correction: This story incorrectly indicated the Hutaree defendants were found not guilty at a bench trial; however, the judge issued a directed verdict of not guilty. It was a jury trial.

LANSING, MI — Five of 14 men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were found innocent.

Considering the personnel, money and time that went into investigating and prosecuting the plotters over a three-year period in multiple states, numerous Michigan cities and three different courts, some attorneys tell MLive the results were underwhelming.

All three men who opted for jury trials in Antrim County — Eric Molitor, 39, of Cadillac; Michael Null, 41, of Plainwell, and twin brother William Null, 41, of Shelbyville — were cleared on charges of contributing material support to a terrorist plan and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony on Sept. 15.

Following the verdict, “one of the jurors came up and gave my client a handshake and a short hug and just said, you know what, I’m so sorry for all that you went through,” said attorney William Barnett, who represented Molitor.

In total, five men were found not guilty (two in federal court and three in Antrim County); Five were convicted by juries (two in federal court and three in Jackson County); and four pleaded guilty as a condition of deals they accepted from prosecutors (two in federal court and two in Antrim County).

According to Pew Research analysis of federal court results in fiscal year 2018, less than 1% of all cases that went to trial resulted in not-guilty verdicts.

There are no readily available conviction statistics for Michigan courts, although attorneys agree the conviction rate in state court is lower than in federal court.

In the kidnap plot case, 50% of the men who went

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Prosecutor quits ‘Cop City’ cases over disagreements with Georgia attorney general

ATLANTA — A metro Atlanta prosecutor announced Friday that her office is withdrawing from criminal cases tied to protests over plans to build a police and firefighter training center, citing disagreements with the state’s Republican attorney general, including the decision to charge a legal observer with domestic terrorism.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston’s decision means Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr will have sole oversight regarding more than 40 additional cases connected to the “Stop Cop City” movement. Previously, the two offices held joint jurisdiction over those cases, Boston, a Democrat, said in a news release.

“It is clear to both myself and to the attorney general that we have fundamentally different prosecution philosophies,” Boston told WABE-FM.

Over the past seven months, more than 40 people have been charged with domestic terrorism in connection with violent protests. Fireworks and rocks have been thrown at officers and police vehicles and construction equipment have been torched. The Georgia statute, which had been rarely employed prior to December, carries a sentence of between five and 35 years behind bars.

Protesters argue that the charges are overblown — none of those arrested have been accused of injuring anyone — and meant to scare off others from joining the movement against the $90 million training center.

In a statement, Carr said his office is “fully committed to moving forward with the prosecution of those who have engaged in or supported violent acts surrounding the Public Safety Training Center.”

City officials say the new 85-acre (34-hectare) campus would replace inadequate training facilities and would help address difficulties in hiring and retaining police officers that worsened after nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice three years ago.

But demonstrators argue that the site will exacerbate environmental damage and be a staging ground for militarized officers to

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