MARQUETTE – Two recently published books use real local cases to educate the public and law enforcement on how the legal system works.
“Money talks” and “Don’t speak, you will walk” were written by Thomas Casselman, of Casselman & Henderson PC, and his wife Rhonda, private investigator.
Thomas Casselman, who was a defense lawyer for 52 years, wrote a book in 2012 called “I speak, you walk” to shed public light on the law, illustrated by the case history, which they would usually have to hire a lawyer to find out about, such as how to choose a jury.
The new novels also have a theme related to law.
“Money talks” is a work of fiction that tells about a manslaughter trial based on real events in the Upper Peninsula.
The book has a dual purpose, said Thomas Casselman.
“It’s to entertain and it’s to explain to citizens how the defense investigates”, he said. “It’s different from the police investigation. We only have one client, and the state has all of us as clients.
In the book, two drivers under the influence of alcohol and cocaine walked through a stop sign and collided with a vehicle driven by a grandfather and grandmother.
“One of the passengers of the offending vehicle is thrown and run over and killed”, says Thomas Casselman. “The surviving passenger is in the floor of the passenger seat. The problem becomes: who drove? No one can say who drove the offending vehicle.
The result was two parallel investigations by police – who determined the survivor to be the driver – and a law firm. To complicate matters, the surviving passenger had amnesia.
“So the survivor says, ‘If the police charge me, I want you to investigate to see if I drove. If I drove I would plead guilty ‘” says Thomas Casselman.
Another issue was that the deceased man was the survivor’s best friend and they had married sisters.
“The story is interesting for the fact that you can see what happens when you win and when you lose, and when the facts don’t go your way,” he said. “What do you do next? You always swim upstream. So it comes down to a contest between physics, mechanics, centrifugal force for police and forensics for defense.
Thomas Casselman said the defense performed better in the case than the police, who made guesses.
Thereby, “Money talks” can be a kind of primer.
“Members of Parliament and the police have the option of having a book that says, ‘Don’t do it that way. That’s what the defense does.
He hasn’t disclosed the ending except to say people won’t expect it to end that way.
“Don’t speak, you will walk” more like his first book.
“The police come to the citizens every day”, says Thomas Casselman. “Whether the citizen is guilty or not guilty, or innocent or not innocent, the police always,”I know you are a good citizen and want to cooperate, and we just have a few questions.
However, the police are used to getting the answers they want. Now, how is the playing field leveled?
“The object here is to say, ‘Thank you for your service, officer. I will be happy to cooperate as soon as I have had the opportunity to speak with my lawyer ‘” says Thomas Casselman.
In the old days, people had to be informed of their rights when they were suspected of a crime. However, he said that is no longer the case.
“Now we read them their rights when they are arrested” says Thomas Casselman. “So what usually happens is they say, ‘We just have a few questions. Can you answer them? You are not under arrest. By the time you answer, now you are under arrest and now they are reading your rights to you. But it’s too late. You have already spoken.
Since the rules have changed, he believes citizens should realize that speaking to the police at the start of an investigation when they are not under arrest could be used against them, regardless of their guilt or of their innocence.
“Once they’ve read your rights to you, you’ve already spoken” says Thomas Casselman. “It’s a bit difficult to ask for lawyers then. So, it is education for the general public.
An example mentioned in the book is the case of a Marquette McDonald’s employee who chose “silence and trial”.
This employee was ultimately convicted of attempted armed robbery instead of armed robbery, which was life changing. Being convicted of the lesser offense only earned him 18 months, which was commuted to 12 months. If he had been convicted of armed robbery, he could have been sentenced to between five and 25 years.
After his release, the employee obtained a degree in construction engineering from Michigan Technological University and later formed a multinational company specializing in the construction of hospitals.
Rhonda Casselman, a licensed private investigator who holds a field gun license, called herself a “In the wings” no one when it came to contributing to the two new books.
As a private investigator, Rhonda Casselman worked only for the defense and sat in courtrooms with lawyers.
Because of this experience, she was instrumental in the creation of both books, having helped with story ideas and coming up with the appropriate cases to help her husband relate the concepts of law.
“We really discussed it a lot as we went along”, she said.
Rhonda Casselman participated in “Money talks” in another way.
“My role was to do the rough cut and I also came up with many ideas involved in the book” she said.
The books can be purchased as a set for $ 25, or individually for $ 15, from Casselman & Henderson PC, 148 W. Washington St. They will also be sold at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show Friday through Sunday at the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University. . .
A book reading is scheduled for January 14 at the Peter White Public Library.
Thomas Casselman said he hoped the book sales would allow the publication of a still untitled book. Only 300 sets of books “Money talks” and “Don’t speak, you will walk” have been printed, although the goal is not to make money.
“I want the police to be educated and I want the general public to be educated”, he said.