October 28, 2008
I continue to have massive problems with my computer, especially when I attempt to post here. Call it operator error if you want. That’s always a possibility. But it is extremely frustrating. And, it is unprecedented. Hence the radio silence for the past few days.
The affidavit in support of the search warrant of Busch’s old house was finally made public. Here are a few interesting things about this search warrant. First, it was ordered sealed. The seal expires after something like 56 days, at which time the prosecutor has to go back to the court and request it be resealed. Second, the issuance of the search warrant was sans case file number. That’s right–it was just a floating search warrant. Maybe that’s how they do business in Oakland County, but when someone wants to challenge the sealing of a search warrant after the prosecutor lets the time period for re-sealing lapse, it makes it kind of hard to put your finger on the damn file.
This search warrant was executed on, ironically enough, Halloween of 2008. The then-Oakland County prosecutor, David Gorcyca, delivered the search warrant to the current owners of the house. Gorcyca was not running for reelection. A few short days later, Jessica Cooper was elected Oakland County Prosecutor.
Nobody on Gorcyca’s prior staff or Cooper’s new staff–including those that she retained from the prior office–told Cooper about this search warrant (drafted by Warrants Division APA Gary Tunis and signed by MSP Detective/Sgt. Garry Gray) after she took office in January 2009. Nobody at the MSP gave her a heads-up about the search of a Bloomfield Village home in the OCCK case in the last days of her predecessor’s term.
As a matter of fact, Cooper did not hear about the developments in this case until February 2009 at a prosecutor conference in Northern Michigan. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who had supported and assisted Cooper in her run for OCP, and who had played an integral part in getting this case as far as it was at that point, asked her what she thought about it. It was news to Cooper, who when she returned from up north, hastily called a meeting with the MSP. I believe the excuse by the MSP for not reaching out sooner to bring the new prosecutor up-to-speed was that it was a complicated case and, yada, yada, yada. In any event, the update did not go real well. Cooper commented something along the lines of “surely Jane Burgess wouldn’t have represented Chris Busch if she thought he was guilty.” One of the detectives informed her that Busch had in fact pleaded guilty in all four of his criminal sexual conduct with a minor cases. And I don’t know too many criminal attorneys that don’t ever represent guilty people, do you?
Anyway, on my end, any hope that a Democrat would get into office and take the bull by the horns was quickly dashed. I should have known. I also voted for Rod Blagojevich for Governor of Illinois years ago because he was a Democrat. Live and learn. Times two.
Back to the search warrant for Busch’s parents’ house and the affidavit in support of it. It was sealed, among other justifiable reasons, to protect the privacy of the current owners. But the statute provides that this seal must be renewed every 56 days. It can’t be sealed forever. By the time Cooper called the meeting in February 2009 to figure out what the hell was going on with the OCCK investigation and following a search warrant executed in her jurisdiction, the 56 days had expired.
The warrants APA asked if there had been a leak, and rushed to court to renew the seal. But they had missed the window. It should not have been resealed, but it was. More than once. My Dad asked the MSP and the OCP numerous times to see the affidavit in support of the search warrant and argued that the seal had lapsed and been incorrectly re-instated. After all, judges don’t issue search warrants–especially of big old homes in Bloomfield Village, MI, without probable cause, and the affidavit does show some pretty interesting information. Cooper has since said many times that Chris Busch is not a suspect in the OCCK case. So why keep the affidavit under wraps? If it’s a problem, redact the address (although I knew before the police did what the address was because I got Chris Busch’s death certificate before they did).
I’m not going to say how we got the affidavit, but it was through legitimate channels because the case is OPEN and subject to the Freedom of Information Act. As for arguments about how the “integrity” of this almost-four decades old case prevents the dissemination of any information–ever–the FOIA case law in Michigan provides completely to the contrary. The cops don’t get to botch a case and then cause it to be open forever and then argue 36 years later that the case is still “open” and therefore no records can be released. In fact, the case law–which in one of the preeminent cases involves these kinds of claims in a FIVE year old case, clearly rejects this b.s. And none of the Oakland County cases I have seen dismissing my Dad’s FOIA cases have even referenced, let alone accurately portrayed, the case law governing FOIA cases. No; two or three paragraphs, sans case law citation, usually suffices. Compare that to FOIA cases filed by the Detroit Free Press or The Detroit News when they are denied access to public documents and see how many pages and pages of the court opinion address the relevant case law.
So, here is the link to the WXYZ Detroit coverage of the release of this affidavit. And before more of you send me messages berating me for hacking on the police and Oakland County prosecutor–the “only people who can help you and your family”–know this: There comes a point when you know you are going to lose either way. The police and prosecutor clearly never had our interests at heart and weren’t going to help us out one way or the other. We would have gladly kept this a private suffering had we known the cops would actually be straight with us. But they weren’t. And don’t give me that bullshit that they know best and maybe they have a card up their sleeve. I might be dumb, but I’m not stupid. And you haven’t seen what I’ve seen. If you have a card and keep it up your sleeve for 36 years, you have bigger problems than me and my family. We were grateful to these people and completely supportive for over 30 years. They (and by “they,” I mean those higher up the food chain, not the cops on the street) took advantage of that–in a case where four little kids were killed, one after another, in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. Now we don’t get patted on the hand, but we get essentially the same answers we would have gotten had we not gone public. You try being between a rock and a hard place with people with police powers and see how it feels. Then we can talk.