Governor Pardons Drunk Driver Convicted in Bloomfield Hills
|Attorney Alan Gocha, Jr.|
If you get pulled over anywhere within the jurisdiction of the 48th District Court and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you have a 33% chance of facing Judge Kim Small. She has garnered headlines over the years with her tough sentences, putting ordinary folks in jail for up to 30-days on a first offense.
In the case of 5-Hour Energy lawyer Alan Gocha, Jr., after unsuccessfully challenging the police traffic stop, he was sentenced to 6-days in the Oakland County Jail. His appeals, right up the line, also were unsuccessful.
That's when Mr. Gocha turned to the Governor's office. Since his election back in 2010, Governor Snyder has only pardoned 11 people.
A governor's pardon removes the conviction from your criminal history. While many other crimes are eligible for expungement, alcohol-related driving crimes are not among them; a drunk driving conviction follows you for life.
In the case of Mr. Gocha, a high-end lawyer with a single wealthy client, his pardon application asserted that his conviction was slowing deals with Wall Street and making his required international travel more difficult. In 2013, Gocha was among a select group of lawyers featured as "Leaders in the Law" by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Looking into this pardon, reporters learned that Gocha donated over $25,000 to the conservative Michigan Chamber of Commerce. In addition, one of Gocha's law firm's clients, ETC Capital, donated millions to the Republican Governor's Association.
These were, of course, legal political donations. But we here at the Law Blogger have to ask whether Governor Snyder, who is normally "by-the-book" in his judicial appointments, was somewhat swayed by politics in this case.
Correction's Deputy Director, Russ Marian, does not think so. Mr. Gocha is "just another person" who received no special treatment according to Marian.