Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Travesty of Justice

Noisy cell call lands party's host in jail

December 5, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ

Carmen Granata, 23, of Eastpointe is serving 30 days in jail.

Monday was Carmen Granata's first day back to work as a veterinarian technician in Sterling Heights.

But the night for her ended the same way every other night for the past two weeks has ended -- back in the Macomb County Jail.

Granata, 23, of Eastpointe was cited for violating the city noise ordinance when a friend used a cell phone on her front porch about 4 a.m. after a barbecue last month. The punishment? Thirty days behind bars -- a much tougher penalty than even some felons face.

And then there are the two years of probation she was given. That means two years of daily breath tests for alcohol at the Eastpointe Police Department or 38th District Court, two years of drug tests on a random date each month and twice-monthly meetings with a probation officer.

And if Granata wants to have another party, she must receive approval from her neighbors.

Any violation of those terms would mean 60 days in jail, according to court records.

Granata's father, Joe Granata of Warren, said he is outraged at the punishment handed down Nov. 21 after his daughter pleaded guilty.

"I've missed work, I'm not sleeping well, I've lost weight," he said Monday. "It's been an emotional toll on everybody. If my daughter had done something to deserve to be in jail, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But this is insane."

Granata has hired a lawyer to try to get his daughter's guilty plea thrown out -- a plea he said she made under the assumption that she would only face a small fine.

Assistant City Prosecutor Richard Albright said he met with Granata before she entered the plea. He said he left the courtroom before a group of neighbors told the judge that Granata regularly caused problems in the neighborhood.

"I don't know what was said by the neighbors or by her," Albright said. "There was something that the judge felt deserved jail time."

Neighbors who testified that Granata was a disturbance to the neighborhood could not be reached Monday for comment.

Lori Shemka, the court administrator for 38th District Court, said Judge Norene Redmond could not comment on the case or the penalty she gave to Granata because it's considered an ongoing litigation.

Chrissy Dikowski lives across the street from Granata, who bought her house about a year ago. Dikowski, 29, said Granata was a good neighbor.

"She's a very nice girl, no problems at all," Dikowski said.

Granata's boyfriend, Erik Scudder, said she hosted the barbecue on Nov. 4 for about 70 friends. Most left in the evening to attend a concert at the Magic Stick in Detroit, but 20 returned about 2:30 a.m. to go to sleep.

Police were called to investigate a noise complaint, Scudder said, but no tickets were issued. When someone stepped out later to use a cell phone, an officer in the area moved in and ticketed Granata because she owned the house.

"We didn't want to wake up our friends, let alone our neighbors," Scudder said, adding that most in the house were sleeping.

Kristy Nadvornik, another neighbor of Granata, said that there's a group of people on the block notorious for calling police regularly to investigate noise complaints and other minor issues.

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