An Oakland County man who served seven years in prison before his sexual assault conviction was overturned can sue his attorney for malpractice.
Jackob Trakhtenburg got the go-ahead to sue Deborah McKelvy after the Michigan Supreme Court said it wouldn’t intervene in the lower court’s decision that allows the decision, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The former Chrysler engineer was convicted in a less-than-hour long bench trial in which McKelvey did not ask for a jury and did not make an opening statement, the newspaper said.
The Michigan Supreme Court determined in 2012 that McKelvy had violated Trakhtenburg’s constitutional rights to an adequate defense and he was released from prison. The court said McKelvey’s “performance in this case was constitutionally inadequate and rendered defendant’s trial unfair and unreliable,” the Detroit Free Press reported in January.
McKelvey declined to speak with the newspaper, but her attorney, Michael Sullivan, said her trial strategy was smart and the evidence against Trakhtenberg was incriminating.
“Deborah McKelvy is an excellent criminal defense lawyer,” Sullivan said.In the lawsuit, Trakhtenburg names McKelvey as a defendant and is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
His attorney,James Elliott of Bloomfield Hills, called the trial “an horrific miscarriage of justice” and said McKelvey “took seven years of this man’s life.”
Trakhtenberg has maintained his innocence and won a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the alleged victim, his young daughter. The allegations against Trakhtenberg were made during an acrimonious divorce from his third wife, the newspaper said.
He emigrated from Russia in 1974 with his first wife and two small children. A trained engineer, first job in the United States was as a janitor for a local engineering company before he became a project manager for Chrysler in 1984.Trakhtenburg once lived in a million-dollar-home, but now lives in a tiny apartment in Royal Oak, his fortune gone,