Prominent attorney Edward Czuprynski of Bay City has won his appeal of a misdemeanor conviction related to an auto accident with a pedestrian in 2015 when he was acquitted of a more serious felony charge. Deciding Czuprynski, 67, did not receive a fair trial, the Court of Appeals, in a split published decision, reversed his conviction and sent the case back to Bay County for a new trial.
"The misdemeanor charge," Czuprynski noted, "was added to the felony count only two weeks before the trial because the prosecutor knew he had a weak case. It was a desperate attempt to obtain a conviction on something by offering the jury a compromised verdict in case the jurors became deadlocked on the felony charge, as apparently happened here. Anyone else would never have been charged with the crime under the facts of this case."
A drunk man with a high BAC of O .19 wearing all dark clothing ran into the path of Czuprynski's car at 10:30 p.m. while crossing a five lane state highway against the light. The misdemeanor charge of violation of a civil infraction causing serious personal injury was a relatively new law that resulted in Czuprynski's loss of his driving privileges for a full year with no restricted license allowed.
Since it was a split 2-1 decision, the government could appeal to the Supreme Court; however, the highest court could decline to review the decision by the Court of Appeals and allow the published decision to stand as the new law it made. Or the government may retry the case on the misdemeanor only, or the government can simply drop the whole matter, something Czuprynski doubts would ever happen "due to the political motivation behind this prosecution."
Czuprynski added: "It's becoming clear to everyone that there is, and has been for decades, an ongoing attempt to destroy my law practice, and cause me as much harm, expense, and stress as possible."
The published decision marks the third time Czuprynski made law bearing his name in reported/published decisions:
1988 - Czuprynski v. Bay Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals. Czuprynski challenged the disqualification of a powerful and abusive circuit court judge. Both The Review and The Detroit News published a prominent article about the case across the top page of its Metro Section entitled, "Lawyer-Judge Feud Alters Court Rules" - December 9, 1990. In this case the Michigan Court of Appeals made law in Czuprynski’s epic battle with Eugene Penzien, a harsh and powerful chief prosecutor turned circuit judge, who was reprimanded by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission for his abusive treatment of the young lawyer when he began his law practice.
1993 - United States v. Czuprynski, U.S. Court of Appeals. Czuprynski became the only person to be federally indicted, convicted, and sent to a federal prison for possession of 1.6 grams of marijuana. He served 8 ½ months of a 14-month sentence when, following oral arguments, the Court of Appeals ordered Czuprynski's immediate release from prison sua sponte (on the Court's own motion without being asked). Because of the historic nature of this federal prosecution, the story went national with Czuprynski quoted on the front page, top story of USA Today in a story entitled: "Drug War Shifting from Dealers to Users" (November 20, 1995); and his case was included in an article published by The Atlantic Monthly entitled "Marijuana and the Law." (September, 1994), among others. "A chilling abuse of power," reported by The Champion magazine published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers twice awarded the Bay County officials involved with its "Hall of Shame Award" for a "prosecution ... obsessed with destroying Czuprynski." After a 3½ year battle involving three reviews before the U.S. Court of Appeals - once en bane where all 21 judges of the Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit reviewed it, which is incredibly rare; Czuprynski's conviction was ultimately reversed and the case dismissed.
2018 - People v. Czuprynski, Court of Appeals. Czuprynski was prosecuted on a felony charge with a misdemeanor count added just before the trial began. Representing himself, Czuprynski was acquitted of the felony but convicted of the misdemeanor. The Court of Appeals ruled the jury instruction given at trial on the law was improper, even though it was a standardized one, and thereby denied Czuprynski a fair trial. The Court also provided a different instruction that was more appropriate in informing the jury of what the elements of the crime are under that statute.
Despite these numerous challenges, Czuprynski has established a successful law practice specializing in personal injury and criminal defense. Of the numerous high-profile cases he has handled, a murder trial - the Donna Yost case - went national when Court TV broadcast it coast-to-coast; and he became one of only a handful of lawyers to win a jury verdict in excess of a million dollars in Bay County on a personal injury case.
Dropping out of high school at age 16 back in 1967, Czuprynski never graduated; he later obtained his GED and went on to graduate with High Honors from Michigan State University (1977) before graduating from the University of Detroit School of Law (1981). During his many years of education, Czuprynski freelanced as a licensed private detective, forced the Bay County Administrator to resign (1974), won a lawsuit against the Bay County Board of Auditors (1974) and was then elected to it four years later (1978), served as editor of a TriCounty labor weekly (1978), and was twice awarded one of two national scholarships granted yearly for achievements and leadership in civil rights and civil liberties (1975 & 1979).
Most notable, Czuprynski successfully spearheaded a petition drive (1978) for a countywide referendum vote leading to Bay County's adoption of the elected executive system of county government, the only Michigan community to adopt that system through a petition by the People, directly.
On the 30th Anniversary year of that historic petition drive (2008), Czuprynski again made history by filing his candidacy as an Independent for county prosecutor, the first time in Bay County's 212-year-history that anyone ran for a county-wide office as an Independent, not affiliated with any political party.