– Michael Komorn, attorney from Komorn Law and recipient of the Michigan Bar Association Right to Counsel Award for 2015.
SPRING LAKE- Max Lorincz and his wife will have custody of their six-year old son returned to them by court order in a Michigan case that made national headlines over a dispute with the State Police Crime Lab over marijuana testing.
Dante, the Lorincz’s son, was removed from his Spring Lake home after investigators charged Max with possession of synthetic marijuana- a felony in Michigan. Lorincz is a registered medical marijuana patient and has always claimed that the substance found by police during a search of his home- a “smear” of substance, so small it’s weight could not be quantified- was medicinal and derived from a natural plant source.
The case began not from an investigation into Lorincz, but with a 911 call from Max to get medical help for a family emergency not related to marijuana. While assisting with the emergency, police accidentally discovered the smear of suspicious substance and began criminal proceedings.
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In building a case, attorney Michael Komorn and investigators from his office probed the Crime Lab on the policies and procedures that lead to the determination of synthetic marijuana in this case. They discovered a hotbed of controversy, including prosecutors coaching scientists to produce results that favored the prosecution in court cases. Emails from representatives of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan to heads of the Lab were revealed, as were protests from scientists forced to change how they report their science for political advantage- changes that brought dire criminal consequences for the citizens whose samples were being evaluated.
“The lab technician in Lorincz’s case testified that he has been testing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, for 25 years. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, also present in synthetics. However, a recent policy change means the technicians have to write “origin unknown” when testing this type of THC on lab reports,” reported Fox News in 2015.
The change in reporting was directly derived from the prosecutor-initiated procedures- and that was enough information to put doubt in the mind of the judge. The lab was not proving the substance was synthetic, they were inferring it, and that does not meet the standard of evidence for courtroom procedures.
Based in a large part on these revelations about evidence handling, Komorn Law secured a dismissal of felony charges in the Lorincz case on January 22. “The judge got it right: the law is very clear on this, and any prosecutor that proceeds under a theory (of synthetic THC), as this office did here, is flat-out wrong,” Komorn told Fox News at the time. “(Prosecutors) should be stopped from doing that… all defense lawyers should know that it’s an inappropriate charge.”
“The wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly fine,” said Jeff Frazier of Komorn Law, one of the people directly responsible for exposing the inappropriate influence used by prosecutors in the Crime Lab scientific method.
After the charge was dismissed Komorn Law fought to reunite the family. “Getting Max’s son back was the last and most difficult piece of the puzzle,” Komorn told The Compassion Chronicles. “To me the CPS case reflects an equally broken and corrupt agency within our government.”
Bethany Christian Services (BCS), who has been paid by the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) to take over the foster care of the young Lorincx child, contested the boy’s return, saying the case had been going on for so long the familial bond had been broken and it was in Dante’s best interest to remain under their guidance.
“Even after we eradicated the allegations of the removal, and dispelled the myth that Max’s status as a medical marijuana patient was not evidence of harm to the child, the agency, prosecutor and guardian ad litem seemingly dug in deeper.”
Once the criminal charges were no longer justification for the continued removal of Dante from the Lorincz home, BCS made other ridiculous claims to explain why the child could not be returned to his parents: he plays lots of video games, his family is poor and his mother is ill.
Court hearings revealed that the behavior shown by Bethany Christian Services, including asking the child himself to choose between his parents and other living options, were contradictory to state procedure regarding foster care. BCS was removed as supervising agency of the Lorincx child by court order, which opened the door to having him returned home.
“It seemed as if every time we made some progress, the agency, the prosecutor came up with some other, unrelated complaint or reason to oppose reunification. We were fortunate that the Court agreed with us, and determined the ( say anything to win) allegations of being poor, his wife’s mental illness, and playing video games are not grounds for removal,” said Komorn.
Bernard Jocuns is a criminal defense attorney from Lapeer has been following the case. “It angers me that professionals that the public are supposed to trust are responsible for this miscarriage of justice. The Michigan Court Rules and Rules of Evidence are in place to provide parity to prosecution and defense (attorneys).”
“It is scary to think what would be happening to Max now, had he not caught the ear of a prominent criminal defense attorney who was willing to take his case pro-bono ,” said Jamie Lowell, a Board member of the MILegalize organization.
The decision was delivered on March 25; it could take several days before Max’s son is returned home to him.
“Yesterday’s ruling ended the 17 month nightmare for the Lorincz family, but it does not end this matter,” Komorn said today. “Komorn Law intends to pursue and exercise every single possible legal recourse available to us, to make this family whole again.”
A listing of Komorn Law Blog updates on the case can be found at: