Man wins appeal over lawyers; big drug conviction thrown out

DETROIT (AP) — An appeals court has thrown out the conviction of a Detroit-area man in a major drug case, saying a judge blew it when he refused to allow new trial attorneys.

Federal authorities described the drug ring as one of the largest in Detroit history.

In a 3-0 decision, the appeals court says even prosecutors urged federal Judge Stephen Murphy III to honor Earnest Proge’s request. The judge saw it as a delay tactic, although Proge’s attorneys said they weren’t prepared for trial and had been working on a plea deal. One lawyer was allowed to withdraw.

The appeals court said Murphy violated Proge’s constitutional rights in 2014. Judge Karen Nelson Moore says the facts are “sobering.”

Proge was sentenced to 30 years in prison, while Carlos and Eric Powell were sentenced to life. The three fled before the jury’s verdict but were captured weeks later.

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