Judge rules for land dispute case between city, local business owner to move to trial

After five months, a judge ruled for a land dispute case to move forward to trial.

It's been a long pre-trial, complete with witness testimony, lawyer dismissals and email bombshells. In the end, Judge Cylenthia Miller of the 36th District Court ruled there was enough evidence for the case to move foward.

"I can see it both ways, and because I can see it both ways, I am duty bound, legally bound, obligated to bind this case over," she said. That's judge speak for leaving the decision up to a jury.

Bob Carmack, a local business owner has been accused by the city of Detroit for profiting off of city land he did not own, by selling it for $1 million. The fraud charge has weaved through several levels of land ownership and fraud, as far as defining when a land purchase counts as a land purchase.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys took the full time in laying out their case for, and against, Carmack.

"And judge, it is beyond absurdity to believe one can sell a parcel of real estate anywhere in the United States that you do not pay for, that is not donated to you, that you do not inherit," said the city's prosecutor.

The defense team shot back, stating that the government put forth not credible or reliable evidence.

"...other than the suggestion that they sent a man fully executed documents conveying land to him and there is copies and he was supposed to somehow know that," said one of Carmack's defense attorneys.

While the judge relented she is empathetic to both arguments, she did add the city's argument needs work.

"I do have serious concerns, serious concerns about a lot of things," Miller said. "I do think there are significant problems here."

Miller noted specifically the legitimacy of a closing document that didn't contain a date.

"Would that be enough to say that that's not a valid deed?" she asked. "To a layperson or even to us as lawyers? I don't think so. I really don't think so."

Earlier this week, defense attorneys were all smiles when an email surfacing stating the city approved a deed transfer to Carmack. However, prosecutors pushed back on that notion, with witness testimony telling the court that the land wasn't actually given to Carmack.

The judge's approval to go to trial didn't surprise defense attorneys. Considering it a low hurdle to overcome for the prosecutors, they're prepared to argue the entire case again.

"I'm not that arrogant to say what a jury will or will not do, right? But there are problems with this case," said another defense attorney. "The judge put that on the record."

A jury will review that record and more when Carmack and the city go to trial next month.