Christopher Urban graduated from Oakland University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. In addition to graduating Summa Cum Laude, Chris was awarded the Donald I. Warren Award for Academic Excellence throughout his time at the university. Upon graduation, Chris began working as Mr. Morris’ driver for court appointments to gain experience before law school. Chris was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Full Tuition Scholarship to Wayne State University. During his time in law school, Chris was a member of the Wayne State Law Mock Trial Team, being named Vice-Chairman his third year. He also worked in the Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic through Karmanos Cancer Center, providing legal services to low income individuals with cancer.
Chris would return each summer throughout law school to clerk for Mr. Morris. After passing the MI Bar Exam on his first attempt in October 2016, Chris completed his journey from un-paid driver, to associate attorney at the Law Offices of Barton Morris.
Chris brings a wealth of experience to the firm. He has performed numerous “ride-alongs” with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Sterling Heights Police Department. In addition, he was an intern at the Detroit DEA Field Office. Finally, he is a published author (Sexual Victimization: Then and Now. ISBN 978-1483308173). Chris has attended the NHTSA Field Sobriety Test Seminar and the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) seminar.
What area of law are you an expert in and why?
I have attended numerous classes and seminars in the area of impaired driving (drugs and alcohol). This area of law is constantly changing, so staying up to date on the most recent changes to the law is important. Most lawyers have no idea what they are looking for in an Operating While Intoxicated (“OWI”) case. My approach to an OWI is holistic and takes into account all available records. Sometimes the hidden details can lead to better deals and even dismissals. Attorneys who dabble in OWI cases only skim the surface in the hopes of pleaing the client out at their first court hearing. I prepare to fight.
Why are you passionate about law or what made you pursue law?
I have always loved criminal law. It combines legal practice with counseling my clients. I have spent a lot of time learning skills to help my clients be successful in their legal AND personal endeavors. My clients often tell me that they feel more relaxed about their case after meeting with me. I’m here to lift the burden they feel as a result of their criminal case. If I can make the client sleep a bit eaiser at night, then I’ve done my job. Being a people person is essential to being a good attorney.
What is your most memorable moment in practicing?
As far as trial, my most memorable moment was a jury asking a police department to retrain their officers following my cross examination. The officer demonstrated and evaluated the field sobriety tests poorly, and I proved that he knew very little about his duties. As a lawyer, having a jury agree with your point of view is a huge victory. It’s even better when they can see the issues that plague the criminal justice system and reward your client.
Outside of trial, my most memorable moments are the hugs and handshakes after a case has been completed. I remember the looks on my client’s faces when we achieve great outcomes. Sometimes criminal law can be very frustrating when justice isn’t served. However, when my clients leave court happy, I remember those moments of joy.
What is your favorite city/township for a case?
I have found that developing a good relationship with both prosecutors and judges can make or break your case. With that being said, I love our 44th District Court (Serving Berkley and Royal Oak) in Royal Oak. They have very reasonable judges and personable prosecutors. I have found the same to be true in Ferndale as well. As far as Macomb County, I find the prosecutor’s office to be generally reasonable as well. In Wayne County, things can be hit or miss. However, our constant presence in those courthouses means I have developed a fantastic reputation for coming in prepared and organized. They take our firm seriously and know we mean business.
Memorable cases and wins
Oakland County – Operating Under the Influence of Drugs
Client was facing license sanctions and a very expensive OWI on his record. I negotiated the prosecutor down to a General Civil Infraction and Possession of Paraphernalia.
Macomb County – Possession of Marijuana
Client was a veteran. I was able to negotiate a plea to keep the charge off of his record with non-reporting probation and no drug testing.
Wayne County- Operating While Intoxicated, Resisting/Obstructing Police Officer
Client was involved in an accident and fled the scene. Police officers used pepper spray and a taser to subdue our client. I was able to dismiss the resisting and negotiate down the Operating While Intoxicated.
Oakland County- Operating With High BAC, Open Intoxicant in Vehicle
This case went to trial. At the close of my cross examination, the prosecutor offered us a plea to Operating While Visibly Impaired and dismissed the Open Intoxicant. This saved my client’s driver’s license and spared her from multiple misdemeanors on her record.
Oakland County – 15 year Felony for False Pretenses – $20,000 or more.
Reduced charge to Failure to Return Rental Property. Received probation (misdemeanor) with HYTA (it will come off of his record) in one of the toughest courts in Oakland County. Client wasn’t US citizen so we had to negotiate a deal that would keep him out of jail and not get deported.
Oakland County –Operating While Intoxicated
Client had OWI reduced down to Reckless Driving. This made it possible for her to keep her driving privileges to Canada.
Oakland County- Operating While Intoxicated/High BAC
Client received ticket for .26 BAC in the most harsh court for OWI’s in Michigan. After a back and forth with the city attorney, we accepted an offer to Operating While Visibly Impaired. The client received 12 months’ probation. Normally, she would have been looking at weeks in jail. However she will most likely be looking at being discharged from probation early with no jail.
What are some of your hobbies and interests? First and foremost, Michigan State Spartans, GO GREEN! I’m a huge hockey and football fan as well. I really enjoy getting out on the golf course (as cliché as it is for a lawyer to say that), and I have over a 200 average in bowling! Finally, as a resident of St. Clair Shores, I can’t get enough of the water and boating.