Spotlight On: Ronald D. Ambrose

Please tell us something about yourself and your background, where you practice, and how you came to practice criminal law?

 Born and raised in Detroit during my younger years, I tend to know the city quite well. Since age 11, Livonia has been my home, graduating from Livonia Stevenson in 1984. In college, I spent my freshman year at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, transferring thereafter to Michigan State University where I graduated in 1988. Law school was my next step, graduating from Wayne State Law School in 1991.

 I have been practicing criminal law since becoming an attorney in 1991, first representing clients on misdemeanor offenses, then felonies in 1993. I have been engaged in appellate practice since 1994, becoming a MAACS roster attorney in that year.

 Personal hobbies include golfing, running (16 marathons), and attending sporting events.

Please tell us about one of your interesting cases.

 Interesting, frustrating, challenging, disappointing, yet still fighting for the cause, Robert (Bob) Bashara was/is a client of mine. Currently, we are in Federal Court on a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.  So much to tell, but so little time. The case received much media attention, but most of it was slanted against “Master Bob.”

What are the theories of the parties?

 Jane Bashara was murdered on January 24, 2012 by Joseph Gentz. The murder, according to Gentz’s sworn affidavit (which is consistent with the facts of the case), occurs in the garage of the Bashara residence. Gentz states he acted alone, had gone to the Bashara residence to steal because he felt he was owed money by Bob Bashara for work performed, was startled by Jane Bashara, lost control, and strangled her to death. Gentz states in his affidavit, which he later disavowed, Mr. Bashara had no involvement in the murder.

 The prosecution’s theory was that Mr. Bashara hired Gentz to do the deed.

In your appellate practice, have you seen any recurring errors, or common pitfalls, by trial counsel?

 I cannot tell you how many complaints I get from clients who have not received their discovery from trial counsel. I do not know why attorneys do not provide the discovery to their clients. It would save so many claims of ineffectiveness. Plus, having the clients assist in their defense should be encouraged and, with their discovery, this can be accomplished.

Have you seen any trends -- good or bad -- in the criminal law in recent years?

 It seems that the Michigan Supreme Court, in recent years, has been more inclined to issue decisions favorable to the defense.

Do you have any specific advice for lawyers new to the practice of criminal law?

 Listen to your clients and treat them with respect. Be attentive to their desires and provide advice without being condescending. Try to relate to your clients as human beings rather than a nuisance. This will help prevent the vast majority of complaints.

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor