Justia Lawyer Rating
10 Best, Attorney Client Satisfaction Badge from the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
Top 100 Trial Lawyers Badge from The National Trial Lawyers
Top 100 Badge from America's Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys
Avoo Rating, 10.0 Scott Grabel
Top 10, Attorney and Practice Magazine's, Criminal Defense Law Firm

People v John Burkman

In August 2020, conservative provocateurs John Burkman and Jacob Wohl disseminated a robocall in Michigan’s 313 area code, which mainly encompasses Detroit. The call said that it was from a civil rights organization and purported to warn of the dangers of mail-in voting in the upcoming presidential election:

Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, a civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records from mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man. Stay safe and beware of vote by mail.

Based on emails between Burkman and Wohl that later came to light, the aim of the message was to dissuade Blacks in the Detroit area from voting.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged Burkman and Wohl with voter intimidation under MCL 168.932(a), which states:

A person shall not attempt, by means of bribery, menace, or other corrupt means or device, either directly or indirectly, to influence an elector in giving his or her vote, or to deter the elector from, or interrupt the elector in giving his or her vote at any election held in this state.

The case was bound over for trial after a preliminary examination before Judge Kenneth King in the 36th District Court in Detroit. Michigan criminal defense attorneys for Burkman and Wohl then filed a motion to quash the charges in the 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit. They argued that the statute did not apply to Burkman and Wohl’s conduct and that even if it did the statute unduly restricted free speech in violation of the First Amendment. Judge Margaret Van Houten denied the motion on both grounds.

Burkman and Wohl appealed, and the case was heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court—with a panel comprised of Judges James Redford, Jane Markey, and Michelle Rick—affirmed the circuit court’s decision, holding that the statute applied to the robocall and that the statute was not unconstitutional.

Burkman and Wohl applied for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, which was granted on November 2, 2022. The Court will consider “(1) whether the Court of Appeals properly interpreted MCL 168.932(a); and (2) whether MCL 168.932(a) is unconstitutional on its face or as applied to the defendants.” Oral argument has not yet been scheduled. Burkman is represented by Scott Grabel of Grabel & Associates.

Client Reviews

If you are reading these reviews you are about to make a decision that will have a large impact on the rest of your life. I choose Grabel and Associates to represent me in my case and I could not have been more satisfied with the level of professionalism and dedication to their clients. I had the opportunity to meet and work with multiple lawyers in the practice all of which showcased a vast knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of the legal system. When you choose Scott Grabel to represent you will open yourself up to all of his resources. Depending on your case Grabel knows experts in all fields. I worked with polygraph examiners, investigators, and forensics experts. Grabel and Associates will defend without prejudice of innocence or guilt. Scott Grabel was able to lead me through every step of the process with great communication the whole way. I would recommend Scott Grabel and Associates to my friends, family and anyone who is in need of representation. B. A.
Best attorney in state of Michigan. Caring and a true friend. Scott was with us every step of the way. He fought for a great injustice for our son and was able to provide an outcome that gave his life back. L. A.
Scott and his firm did an awesome job representing a family member of mine, I would highly recommend him and his firm! They were extremely reliable, trustworthy and very informative and did a great job with the case. I couldn't be happier with the results that we received, I can't speak highly enough about the great job he did. If you are thinking about using his firm, I would highly recommend, I would definitely use his firm again if needed, he is an a great attorney with a great firm, you won't be disappointed! M. F.