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AG’s office appeals Steiger case again

June 12, 2012
Jordan Travis - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

The Michigan Attorney General's Office is hoping to appeal a decision by an Alpena County Circuit Court judge affirming the dismissal of a charge of prescription fraud against Presque Isle County's prosecutor.

Judge Michael Mack upheld an Alpena County District Court judge's decision not to bind over Richard Steiger on a charge of fraudulently obtaining a duplicate prescription for narcotic painkillers. Now, the attorney general has applied to take the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals in Lansing.

Dan White, Steiger's attorney, said the court must decide whether to hear the case. This is because the 26th Circuit Court was acting as its own court of appeals when Mack rendered his decision in May, setting it apart from other cases where the parties involved have a right to appeal.

White's also unsure if the AG's office filed the request for leave to appeal within the 21-day deadline from Mack's decision, he said. He received notice about the filing by mail on June 8, although the deadline was June 7.

If the office did miss the deadline, White will have to look into it to see what that means, he said.

"I hate to be a technocrat, but I'm going to be in this case," he said.

Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for the AG's office, said the request was filed on June 7, and White might have received notification later.

Beyond that, Yearout declined to comment on the case.

When the attorney general appealed the decision by Judge Theodore Johnson to drop the charge against Steiger, the argument was that the court had abused its discretion. The same argument is now being repeated against Mack's court.

In his decision, Mack wrote that he shared in Thompson's failure to see how Steiger had engaged in fraud, citing the list of his medications he had provided to two doctors and the staff of the Alpena Regional Medical Center's emergency room. The original charge was based on an accusation that Steiger had failed to disclose his prescriptions for narcotic painkillers to the doctors and a physician's assistant at ARMC. Steiger's counsel went over his medical records, showing that he had notified them of his medications.

Steiger has repeatedly said his medical records will exonerate him, and has called the trial and appeal "a nightmare for me and my family."

If the attorney general's appeal is successful, the case could be remanded to a lower court, White said. It also could mean Johnson's decision not to bind the case over to circuit court could be overturned.

White suspects that, should the appeals court hear the case, the result would be the same as before, he said.

"The issues really haven't changed," he said. "The facts are the same, and the issues are the same, so there's going to be a certain repetition to it. However, each court is independent of the other, so one never takes anything for granted."

White isn't sure when the Court of Appeals will decide whether to hear the case, he said.

"We will respond vigorously, whether technically or substantively," he said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.

 
 

 

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