2017 Electric Forest Festival Legal Update: New Judges to Handle Felony Cases in Oceana County
For the last seven years, anybody accused of a felony in Oceana County, MI, appeared in front of either the Hon. Anthony Monton or the Hon. Terrence Thomas. While each judge had their own judicial philosophy, after decades on the bench, their views on criminal/drug cases were well known and, as the Electric Forest Festival grew, their views on how they were going to handle cases arising out of the Electric Forest Festival also became well known. With either judge, even if you were convicted of a drug crime, it was possible to (a) avoid jail time and (b) get a diversion, e.g., a .7411 or HYTA, which allowed our clients an opportunity to avoid having a conviction on their record if they successfully completed probation. However, following the retirement of Judge Thomas in and Judge Monton, we may be ushering in a new era of how Electric Forest cases are handled in Oceana County.
Hon. Robert D. Springstead, 27th Circuit Court for the County of Oceana
In 2017, the Hon. Robert D. Springstead was appointed by Gov. Snyder to fill the vacancy left by Judge Monton’s retirement. Because Judge Springstead is new to the bench as of April 1, 2017, his positions on criminal cases and Electric Forest cases, in particular, are still relatively unknown.
What we do know is that (1) he was a prosecutor for the last 7 years and (2) prior to being prosecutor, he was a criminal defense attorney for 17 years. Oh, and he is Gary K. Springstead’s brother (more on that in a minute).
What we don’t know is whether he will continue to handle criminal cases in the same way that Judges Monton and Thomas did? Will he take a tougher stance on drug charges? Will it be possible to avoid jail if you are convicted of a drug crime? Will it be possible to get a diversion on a felony drug case? How closely will he scrutinize searches and seizures at the Festival? The short answer is: we don’t know yet. It is his first time handling Electric Forest cases as a judge, so stay tuned. We will give regular updates on how cases are being handled.
Lastly, because Electric Forest Festival Attorney Gary K. Springstead and Hon. Robert D. Springstead are brothers, Gary K. Springstead’s felony cases are automatically reassigned to the Hon. Bradley J. Lambrix to avoid any conflict of interest. Misdemeanor cases will still be handled by the Hon. H. Kevin Drake of the 78th District Court.
Hon. Bradley J. Lambrix
This will be Judge Lambrix’ first year handling felony cases arising out of the Electric Forest Festival too. Judge Lambrix is Oceana County’s Probate Court Judge, where he handles cases involving juveniles, including criminal proceedings, family law, and probate estates, among other things. Prior to being elected to the bench, Judge Lambrix was the Assistant Prosecutor for Oceana County, so he is very familiar with the handling of criminal cases. Judge Lambrix is well-known for his friendly, upbeat demeanor in the court. A lesser known fact is that Judge Lambrix is a regular attendee at the Electric Forest Festival. Judge Lambrix is expected to handle cases arising out of the Electric Forest Festival in the same way that Judge Monton and Thomas have handled cases in the past, perhaps taking the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach to the way these cases have been handled. This could change, as it’s his obviously his prerogative (within the confines of the law), but we will keep you updated on how Judge Lambrix is handling Electric Forest Festival cases in 2017.