Panel to tackle integrity of criminal justice system

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A panel will address the importance of integrity when it comes to criminal justice as part of the Western Michigan University Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's Spring 2017 Lecture Series.

The program, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, in 211 Bernhard Center, will explore the key role of integrity in the criminal justice system. Panelists working in critical roles in the West Michigan criminal justice system will share their views on what works in the criminal justice system, the weak spots in the system that threaten its integrity and how integrity in the system can be protected now and in the future.

The event is free and open to the public. Community members are encouraged to attend and ask questions and discuss the issues with panelists. Each panelist will bring a different perspective to the discussion, from a former judge who used to hand down sentences and a police officer to a defense attorney, prosecutor and the falsely accused.

Those sitting on the panel include the Honorable William G. Schma, former Kalamazoo County Circuit Court judge; Lt. David Schnurstein, a unit commander with the Grand Rapids police department; Monica Janiskee, chief assistant prosecutor for Kent County; Becket Jones, associate attorney with Hills at Law P.C. in Kalamazoo; and Donya Davis, a WMU Cooley Innocence Project exoneree. Tonya Krause-Phelan, auxiliary dean and professor at the WMU Cooley Law School, will serve as moderator.

About the panelists

Schma served as Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge from his initial appointment in 1987 until his retirement in 2007. He has consulted, lectured, published articles and law reviews, and made numerous presentations on substance use disorders and criminal justice, drug treatment courts, therapeutic jurisprudence, and problem solving courts. Judge Schma presided over the Kalamazoo County Drug Treatment Court Program, is a founding member of the National Association for Drug Court Professionals and served as the first President of the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Schnurstein joined the Grand Rapids Police Department in 1999 after working for two years as a police officer in Saginaw. Schnurstein worked in the Patrol Division, Investigation Division, and the Special Response Team until he was promoted to sergeant in 2005, serving as detective sergeant in the Vice Squad, among other duties. Following his promotion to lieutenant, he served as a shift commander until being transferred to his current assignment. Schnurstein serves as the unit commander for the IT Unit, Crime Analysis Unit, Traffic Unit and Records Unit.

Janiskee graduated from Michigan State University College of Law in 1996, then began her law career at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids. In December of 1997, she was hired at the Kent County Prosecutor's Office in their appellate division. Janiskee eventually was moved to the felony trial division in 2000 and immediately began trying felony cases, including homicides, criminal sexual conduct and other assaultive crimes. She was eventually promoted to senior attorney and was recently appointed to be chief assistant prosecutor.

Jones practices in the area of criminal defense, including driver's license restoration, motions to set aside convictions, petitions for discontinuation of sex offender registration, criminal forfeiture, restitution and personal protection order matters. He is an active member of the Kalamazoo County Trial Lawyers Association, acting as a secretary from 2011-2013, began as the co-chair of the Young Lawyers Section of the Kalamazoo County Bar Association in 2012 and was appointed to a seat on the Board of Directors for the Kalamazoo County Bar Association in 2013.

Davis was convicted of rape, armed robbery and carjacking in 2007. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. In 2013, the WMU Cooley Law School Innocence Project filed a petition for post-conviction DNA testing on behalf of Davis. Davis was excluded as the source of the tested evidence. In June 2014, the prosecution did not oppose his motion for new trial and he was released on bond. On Nov. 6, 2016, all charges against Davis were dropped.

Krause-Phelan teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, defending battered women, criminal sentencing and ethics in criminal cases and assists with the West Michigan Defenders Clinic. Before joining Cooley, Krause-Phelan worked as both a private criminal defense practitioner and as an assistant public defender with the Kent County Office of the Defender in Grand Rapids. She frequently appears as a commentator on numerous radio, television, print and internet media sources regarding criminal law and procedure issues.

For more information, visit wmich.edu/ethics.

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