Two sides of a coin

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Prosecutor previously worked as a public defender

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A shareholder with Bennett & Demopoulos in Plymouth, Greg Demopoulos, has seen both sides of the coin in his long career—first as a public defender and then on the opposite side of the courtroom as a prosecutor.

A cum laude graduate of the University of Detroit School of Law, Demopoulos was an attorney at Kitch, Saurbier, Drutchas, Wagner, and Kenney P.C. in Detroit, from 1995 to 2008. He had the public defender contract in the 35th District Court serving Plymouth, Canton and Northville, handling approximately 30,000 cases. Then in 2008, a law enforcement officer who respected his work as a public defender suggested Demopoulos put in a bid for an opening—resulting in his first municipal prosecution contract.

“It was a very easy transition,” he says. “To practice criminal defense, you must know the prosecutor’s role, tactics, and techniques. To be a prosecutor, the same is true about knowledge of criminal defense attorneys. Having practiced both sides of criminal law has allowed me to quickly assess strengths, weaknesses and issues in a case. It’s given me insight to make fair offers on cases that resolve the vast majority of the time.”

In addition to the Northville Township position, since 2014 he has served as Canton Township Prosecutor, Plymouth Township Assistant Prosecutor, and Garden City Assistant Prosecutor.

At Bennett & Demopoulos, he handles civil and criminal litigation, personal injury, family law and driver license restorations.

His most challenging cases have come in the area of criminal defense—such as the jury trial last September in northern Michigan where his client was charged with OWI and possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

“The client was legally drunk and had a handgun in her glove box,” he says. “She drove to flee a very dangerous situation where she was likely drugged and sexually assaulted. As she drove to safety she called the police and was ultimately arrested for OWI and the gun possession while intoxicated.

“My defense was that of ‘duress.’ Under the law, the defendant must admit to the offenses and claim it was due to duress and that she should be excused from the alleged criminal conduct. It was hard to put a client on the stand and have her admit to the crime when I had possible other defenses. She made the admissions and the jury found her not guilty.”

In another case, just prior to the pandemic outbreak, Demopoulos had a jury conviction on a case he tried for operating under the influence of marijuana with a blood test of 1ng of THC in the driver’s blood. Initially this seemed challenging, and during the trial preparation he learned a great deal about how THC gets processed in the body.

“Through the assistance of an MSP forensic scientist the jury learned that marijuana has a half-life of approximately half an hour after ingestion and dissipates even quicker after the initial half hour,” he says.

“When you look at the time table of the officer observing bad driving, making a stop, administering field sobrieties, making an arrest, driving to the police station, asking for consent for a blood test—and if denied, seeking a search warrant—the trip to the hospital and then finally the blood draw, the THC level just keeps getting lower. So the jury needed education on this science and coupled with the bad driving and sobriety tests found the defendant guilty despite a 1ng THC level.

“I wish my practice was exclusively trying cases,” he adds. “Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. I enjoy the fluid and fast pace of trial work. Prior to COVID, I would have about 12 jury trials a year. I like the strategy involved, planning what your opponent will do and thinking about 5 steps ahead. I’m very collegial during a trial and I don’t try to alienate a jury by being brash and extremely adversarial. I prefer the more subtle approach of trying to methodically prove my case and disprove my opponent’s theories. I’ve found this approach to work best after several hundred trials in my 33 years of practice.”

In his family practice, Demopoulos mediates every case unless it is a very basic dispute with reasonable parties.

“Mediation allows the parties to have control in the outcome of the case,” he says. “More importantly it brings parties down to earth when a neutral mediator makes suggestions based on what a judge might do on a particular issue. It’s just a sane and sensible process.”

Demopoulos, who also has worked in the office of General Counsel at Ford Motor Co., started his career trajectory with an undergrad degree in Financial Markets and Investments from Wayne State University School of Business Administration, and then chose the path of a law degree rather than an MBA. Clearly that was a good choice: he earned his juris doctor, cum laude, from the University of Detroit School of Law.

“I believed the finance background would prove helpful which it has,” he says. “I never aspired at a young age to be a lawyer but by my senior year of undergrad I knew it would be a career without a dull moment in litigation.

“It’s proven to be so in my practice in business evaluations and divorce litigation—I’ve a strong understanding of financial statements, present value of assets and can spot financial and accounting issues.”

A native of West Bloomfield and alumnus of West Bloomfield High School, Demopoulos has lived in Canton since 1988. His 31-year-old son is an ICU doctor treating many patients with COVID; and his daughter, 28, is an HR manager for a Fortune 100 company.

In his leisure time, Demopoulos is an avid bicyclist, riding 4,546 miles last year; he also enjoys downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking, golfing, travel, and loves spending time on beaches.

He also gives back to the Canton community. He has held positions on the ZBA, Planning Commission, Board of Trustees and Recreational Advisory Commission; and has served on the Board of Directors of the Canton Soccer Club, Partnership for the Arts and Humanities and Central Park HOA.

“Some of my greatest satisfaction is the service I provide to my community over the last three decades,” he says.

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