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Clarence Marvin Gabel

February 29, 1932 February 29, 2012
Clarence Marvin Gabel
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Obituary for Clarence Marvin Gabel

Clarence M. Gabel, of Brighton and formerly of Farmington Hills, died at home in the care of his family, on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. He was 80 years old.
We knew that Clarence was special when he chose to be born on February 29, and then proved the fact by passing away on February 29. How extraordinary is that?

Clarence had an unending intellectual curiosity until a stroke changed his entire life; but he never complained. He was loyal to friends, fair with his opponents, had a strong code of ethics and his company enriched many lives. He could sometimes be opinionated but passionate in the pursuit of causes in which he believed.
How do I tell you how lucky I feel that he happened into my life and together we endured the ups and downs, the joys and disappointments.
God Speed Clarence, I love you.
He is survived by his beloved wife Ruth (nee Hansen); caring children Larry Gabel, Laura Gabel, and Jeffrey Gabel; loving grandchildren, Audrey, Cameron, and Madison Gabel; brothers, Norman Gabel, Ronald (Judy) Gabel, and Kenneth (Joyce) Gabel; sister-in-laws, Shirley Martin, and Judyth (Allen) McFarland.
Private family services are being held. A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, March 18, 12 Noon at Baker's of Milford, 2025 S. Milford Rd, Milford. It would be appreciated if you could let the family know if you plan to attend, thank you, 810-220-8667). Memorial contributions can be made to the American Heart Association. For further information please call Lynch & Sons Funeral Home at 810-229-2905.

Newspaper Article:
Brian Dickerson, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, wrote an article about Clarence that
appeared in that paper on July 24, 1998:
Whether you think of sharks or crusaders when you hear the word "lawyer," the image
that comes to your mind probably doesn't look anything like Clarence Gabel.
Gabel was 40 years old when he enrolled in night law school at Wayne State, looking for a
way out of his job in computer management. Now, at 66, he is trying to scale back his role at the
small, general practice firm he shares with his daughter, 35-year-old Laura Gabel [I should
mention here that I was only 34 years old at the time!], and a third partner who spends much of
his time in Utah.
I found the elder Gabel the other morning as he sipped coffee in the office of his
160-year-old farmhouse in Farmington Hills. He wore a short-sleeved sport shirt and looked
every bit the part-time, semi-retired barrister he says he's trying to become.
But to Richard Walker, who stands a good chance of walking out of prison later today for
the first time in six years, the genial, soft-spoken Gabel is a courtroom gladiator in the mold of
Clarence Darrow or William Kunstler.
Walker, now 34, was arrested for drug trafficking in 1992 after two raids on his Detroit
home. Prosecutors failed to find any drugs in either raid, and returned $120,000 in seized cash
after multiple witnesses testified that Walker had amassed the money buying and selling dragsters
and engines.
But an admitted drug trafficker insisted Walker was his main source of cocaine. Walker
was convicted in a bench trial before Washtenaw Circuit Judge Donald Shelton, who sentenced
him to a mandatory term of life in prison under the notorious drug lifer law.
Gabel had never heard of Walker until 1996, when he and two other volunteers selected to
hear grievances against Michigan lawyers took up a complaint against Howard J. Wittenberg, the
criminal defense specialist who represented Walker at trial.
What Gabel and his fellow panelists heard in five days of hearings, he says, amounted to
�the most egregious case of professional misconduct we�d seen in eight years of hearing
disciplinary cases together.�
Narcotics investigators had returned $40,000 seized from Walker�s home during the
second raid after concluding it could not be linked with any illegal activity. But the check had
been made out to Wittenberg, who spent the money without telling his client, then kept Walker
from taking the witness stand for fear his testimony would alert prosecutors to Wittenberg�s
$40,000 theft.
All three discipline board members voted to disbar Wittenberg, but for Gabel and a second
panelist, Detroit lawyer Bruce Miller, that resolution seemed incomplete.
�We have never expressed any feelings whether he was guilty or innocent,� he said, �but it
was quite clear to us that Mr. Walker had not been given a fair trial. And that . . . that disturbed
Convinced that Wittenberg�s conflict of interest had reduced his client�s trial to a sham,
they joined Kenneth Birch, a volunteer apellate (sic) lawyer from Lansing, in a motion to overturn
Walker�s conviction.
Last week, after a hearing in his Ann Arbor courtroom, Judge Shelton set aside his own
guilty verdict and ordered prosecutors to decide by September if they�ll seek to try Walker a
second time. The recantation of a key witness makes a new trial problematic, though, and Gabel
and others close to the case expect Walker to be released on bond today.
People who hate lawyers tend to remember the worst that they do. But the next time you
read about a villain like Howard Wittenberg, remember the Clarence Gabels of the bar.
And don�t forget that when a bad lawyer abandoned Richard Walker, there were three
good lawyers who considered it their duty to support him.


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