Michael P. Hanle, Partner

Michael P. Hanle, Partner Criminal Defense Law Firm My practice is limited to representing individuals charged with violating federal, state, or local law. I represent individuals charged in the United States District Court (Federal Court), as well as the District and Circuit Courts of Jefferson, Shelby, St.
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Clair, Bibb, Walker, Blount, Cullman, Talladega, and Tuscaloosa Counties. I handle DUI cases and all felony drug offenses.

11/05/2018

November 6th is election day. Get out and vote. It does not matter who you vote for (although I have some suggestions) just get out and vote.

11/27/2017
Jaffe, Hanle, Whisonant & Knight, P.C.

We now have over a dozen interviews available on our YouTube page. Check them out!

Visit our Youtube page to see the first part of our interview with Bennet Wright. Part 2 is coming soon!

Missing the problem, again!  When will they get it right?
08/18/2015
Heroin Isn’t the Problem. Prescription Painkillers Are

Missing the problem, again! When will they get it right?

The White House’s new multimillion-dollar plan to tackle heroin is missing the point of America’s opioid epidemic.In response to the quadrupling of heroin overdose deaths from 2002-2013, the White House unveiled a multi-million dollar plan Monday that will, among other things, target the black market where it is sold.It’s a great start to curbing America’s heroin epidemic, but as a plan to address the opioid epidemic as a whole, it may be missing the point.According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, twice as many people are addicted to prescription painkillers (1.2 million) as heroin (roughly 500,000), and twice as many die from them each year. From 1997-2011 alone, there was a 900 percent increase in people requesting treatment for opioid addiction, and it’s now the second most abused drug among teens.Legal and proven to have medical benefits, painkillers are seen as safe and effective. Yet they kill 46 people per day in the U.S.—more than two an hour. Those who can no longer afford or obtain painkillers, which run $40/a pop on the black market, turn to heroin—often $5 a bag.Until medicine finds a solution to chronic pain, crackdowns on one drug will likely serve only to increase the use of the other.In a statement released Monday, the Office of National Drug Control Policy outlined the $5 million dollar plan to target the “trafficking, distribution and use of heroin” —$2.5 million of which it will use to create a “Heroin Response Team.” The program is a part of a $13.4 million dollar fund given to a division of the Drug Enforcement Administration known as the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).If effective, the rise in heroin use nationwide may very well come to a halt. But winning that battle won’t win the war.HIDTA was launched by Congress as a part of the 1988 amendment to Ronald Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, with the goal of stopping the influx of illegal drugs. On its website, the DEA says the program “provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the U.S.”The mission of the heroin intervention follows that model. Combining state, local, and federal law enforcement in 15 states, it aims to forge public safety and public health partnerships across 15 states. The money will be used to educate, provide medicine to prevent overdoses, and offer tools to infiltrate drug networks. If effective, the rise in …

Michael P. Hanle, Partner
08/12/2015

Michael P. Hanle, Partner

Momentum is building.  It is time to do end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses.
07/20/2015
I have a life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime. Clemency is my only hope

Momentum is building. It is time to do end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses.

In 1992, when I was 26, I was convicted for distributing crack cocaine in Fort Worth, Texas. For this nonviolent offense, I was sentenced to life without parole. I turn 50 this year and have lived for almost a quarter-century in the Federal Correctional Institution El Reno in Oklahoma, where President Obama was stopping on Thursday – the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.He deserves praise for showing a lot of interest in criminal justice reform, and for commuting the sentences of 46 inmates on Monday, which was very much needed. But there are hundreds of other nonviolent offenders just like them, and just like me, who are serving sentences that are no longer considered fair. If I were to be granted clemency, it would be like a breath of a new life after years of incarceration.I have seen so much while here in El Reno, especially the comings and goings of a lot of inmates. I tell them that one day I will be like them — going home a free man. The most important thing to me about freedom is caring for my parents. Their health is going downhill. My mother has stage 4 breast cancer, and my father has just learned that he has prostate cancer. I am my parents’ only son, and I long to rejoin my three sisters to help care for them. Also, I haven’t been able to see my daughters grow into young ladies, and I haven’t had the benefit of assisting my sisters as a brother should – let alone just living life as a free person.With all of this going on, the day-to-day of prison is taking an even greater toll on me. But I continue to pray that one day soon I’ll look back on this and thank God for the will to keep on.I wake up every day and pray in a cell that’s white and grey with little room to move around in between me and my cellmate. On Monday through Thursday, my days begin at 4:30am as I prepare to work in the commissary as a clerk from 6am until 3:30pm. After work, I keep myself in good health by exercising from 6–7pm, and pretty much after that my day is almost over. On Saturday I head to the law library to read case law, as I have a diploma in paralegal studies.Clemency is something that I long for – not just for me, but for a lot of inmates who have served well over 20-plus years for crimes involving crack cocaine. Most of us convicted back in the early 1990s are still serving very long prison sentences because the law punished crack offenses more harshly than cocaine powder offenses. If I had been convicted for a crime involving cocaine powder, …

I need one of these for my next camping trip.  I always forget to bring the chair.
07/18/2015
Monarch Chair

I need one of these for my next camping trip. I always forget to bring the chair.

The lightest chair in our furniture family, the Monarch Chair is the original tent-pole seat that brought Alite to fame. Balancing on two legs allows you to rock forward and back. The innovative base …

06/19/2015

There is no question the shootings in Charleston are tragic, but are they an act of terrorism. I don't think so. What makes this heinous event an act of terrorism?

Is it the simple fact that a white man shot and killed a group of black men and women? Would we reach the same result if a black man had shot and killed a group of white men and women? Would we reach the same result if members of a white motorcycle gangs shot and killed a group of white men in a rival motorcycle gang? Would we reach the same result if a group of young black men shot and killed a rival group of young men in the City of Chicago this weekend.

Clearly these acts can be characterized as "hate crimes" but not an act of terrorism. This terrible event was not, in my opinion, committed to create fear for the purpose of achieving an economic, political, or ideological goal.

What do you think?

America's largest mental health facility is the Cook County Jail.  Sad reality, but at least they are trying to make thi...
06/10/2015
America's Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail

America's largest mental health facility is the Cook County Jail. Sad reality, but at least they are trying to make things better. Great article.

At Cook County, where a third of those incarcerated suffer from psychological disorders, officials are looking for ways to treat inmates less like prisoners and more like patients.It was 9 o’clock in the morning at Cook County Jail, but in the subterranean holding cells where dozens await their turn before a judge, you wouldn't be able to tell. Pre-bail processing here takes place entirely underground. A labyrinth of tunnels connects the jail’s buildings to one another and to the Cook County Criminal Court. Signs and directions are intentionally left off the smooth concrete corridors to hinder escape attempts. Even those who run the jail get lost down here from time to time, they told me.No natural light reaches the tunnels. Human voices echoed off the featureless walls, creating an omnipresent din. On this Monday, when those arrested over the weekend in Chicago and its suburbs filled the fenced cages, that din became a roar. Many inmates were standing, sitting, or milling around. But some—perhaps two or three per holding pen—were lying on the floor, asleep.If you can sleep through this, you’re fighting far greater demons than the commotion outside. And the doctors here want to know what they are.At Cook County Jail, an estimated one in three inmates has some form of mental illness. At least 400,000 inmates currently behind bars in the United States suffer from some type of mental illness—a population larger than the cities of Cleveland, New Orleans, or St. Louis—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI estimates that between 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will be jailed or incarcerated at some point in their lives.“This is typically what I see everyday,” said Elli Petacque-Montgomery, a psychologist and the deputy director of mental health policy for the sheriff’s department. She showed me a medical intake form filled with blue pen scribbles. Small boxes listed possible illnesses: manic depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, and so on. The forms are designed to help jail officials identify which inmates have mental illnesses as early as possible. Details from four new inmates could fit on a single sheet. She showed me a completed one. “Of those four,” she said, pointing to the descriptors, “I have three mentally ill people.”The overwhelming majority had been arrested for “crimes of survival” such as retail theft (to find food or supplies) or breaking and entering (to find a place to sleep).On a nearby …

Supreme Court will decide if criminal defendant has right to seized funds to hire lawyer of her choice.
06/09/2015
Supreme Court To Decide Whether Criminal Defendants Have Right To Hire Lawyers With Frozen Assets

Supreme Court will decide if criminal defendant has right to seized funds to hire lawyer of her choice.

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court took up a case Monday concerning whether the government can deny criminal defendants untainted money they need to hire an attorney of their choice.The case, Sila Luis v. United States, will be heard in the court's next term starting in the fall. Luis was indicted in 2012 on fraud charges involving $45 million in allegedly illegal Medicare payments. The FBI said that Luis, as president of a health care provider, paid kickbacks and bribes to Medicare patient recruiters and submitted false claims for work done on behalf of the beneficiaries.When federal prosecutors froze her assets, Luis sued, arguing that not all her assets were connected to the charges and that she needed money to hire an attorney. Both a federal district judge and federal appeals court ruled in the government's favor, saying Luis did not have a constitutional right to the funds.The Justice Department has argued that the government could freeze the funds. In its case against Luis, the government said it was putting assets on hold that would be forfeited after the defendant was convicted, because she had already spent the tainted money on travel and luxury goods. The government has argued it was making a forfeitable versus nonforfeitable calculation, rather than a tainted versus untainted one.In petitions urging the Supreme Court to take up the case, legal experts argued that the justices should consider whether Luis' Sixth Amendment right to hire counsel of her choice should outweigh prosecutorial efforts to recover the full value of the alleged fraud.Last year, the court's justices ruled that indicted defendants do not have a right to challenge the forfeiture of their assets at a hearing in order to hire attorneys to defend them.In a dissenting opinion to that decision, Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to foreshadow Luis' argument.“Few things could do more to undermine the criminal justice system’s integrity than to allow the government to initiate a prosecution and then, at its option, disarm its presumptively innocent opponent by depriving him of his counsel of choice,” Roberts wrote. Such a move, he explained, would be “fundamentally at odds with our constitutional tradition and basic notions of fair play.”Asset forfeiture is increasingly becoming a bipartisan cause of concern in Congress, though the focus has been more on civil forfeiture practices in states and local communities.

Death penalty for drug users.  Indonesia has blown the "tough on drugs" stance way too far.
06/05/2015
Experts criticise data used by Indonesia to justify punitive drugs policies

Death penalty for drug users. Indonesia has blown the "tough on drugs" stance way too far.

The credibility of government data cited by the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, to support the country’s punitive drugs policies has been criticised by a group of leading health experts and academics in one of the world’s most eminent medical journals.In an open letter published in The Lancet on Friday, the group of Indonesian experts write that the Indonesian government’s policies of involuntary rehabilitation and the death penalty for drug users must be stopped “urgently”.The Indonesian government frequently cites statistics from its national narcotics board, which estimates illicit drug use prevalence to to be at 2.6% – equivalent to 4.5m people – and suggested as many as 50 drug-related deaths were occurring every day.The authors wrote they had “serious concerns” about the validity of those estimates because the details and methods of the studies behind the data were not publicly accessible, and from the information that was available, the study methods were questionable.“The Indonesian government, led by president Joko Widodo, has heralded its commitment to evidence-based policy making,” the letter states.“However, as researchers, scientists and practitioners, we have grave concerns that the government is missing an opportunity to implement an effective response to illicit drugs informed by evidence.”The 10 signatories to the letter, from institutes including the Indonesian Drug Users Network, the University of Indonesia’s law faculty, and Jakarta’s Atma Jaya HIV-Aids Research Center, said the government must expand evidence-based interventions, such as opioid substitution therapy, needle-and-syringe programs and rehabilitation programs based on science.Indonesia’s punitive drugs strategy has drawn global attention this year after 15 drug criminals were sentenced to death and executed by firing squad, six in January and nine in April.Widodo has frequently said there was “no excuse” for drug traffickers and that tough approaches were needed to combat what he described as the country’s “drugs emergency”.But a signatory to the Lancet letter, Professor Dr Irwanto, an HIV researcher, said a tough, war-on-drugs approach had proven to be a global failure.“Obtaining valid estimates of drug use is not an easy, straightforward process, yet we need to make sure that national policies are based on evidence that is thoroughly peer-reviewed and transparent,” Irwanto said.“Each human life matters. Productive human lives may be compromised by misguided …

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