Lawyer accused of forging filing signature disbarred

Ed White
Associated Press

Detroit – A Metro Detroit lawyer with a history of misconduct was disbarred Tuesday after a law student suspected that he had forged another attorney’s signature on documents filed at the Michigan appeals court.

Robert Slameka’s law license was taken away by a panel at the Attorney Discipline Board. He didn’t appear at the hearing.

In 2011, Slameka accepted $7,500 to handle an appeal for Damitrice Vann, who was convicted of carjacking and other crimes in Oakland County, according to the Attorney Grievance Commission.

He was accused of subsequently filing court documents under the name of another attorney, Matthew Evans. The filings occurred just before Slameka began serving a 90-day suspension for misconduct in another matter.

“I did not work on your case nor did I file any pleadings on your behalf. … I don’t know why or how this occurred,” Evans said in a letter to Vann.

Slameka, 74, denied wrongdoing during a brief interview with the Associated Press.

“I’m long gone, dude. I’m out of the game,” he said. “I’m living life, and I’m really enjoying it.”

Abbey Lent, a student at University of Michigan law school, was the first to become suspicious.

For other reasons, she was reviewing Vann’s conviction as a possible new case for the school’s Innocence Clinic. Lent looked at the file and noticed that Slameka had told the appeals court that Evans was taking over as the attorney.

“Evans’ signature looked weird,” Lent said. “He confirmed he had never worked on this case. He signed a sticky note, scanned it and faxed it to us. His signature looked nothing like the signature on the substitution form.”

Slameka’s law license was suspended for six months in 2015 after misdemeanor convictions for larceny and breaking and entering. He was well-known at the Wayne County courthouse and had many court-appointed clients.

Slameka had been criticized for his handling of several cases, including the wrongful-murder convictions of 14-year-old Davontae Sanford, who spent eight years in prison.

Sanford told The Detroit News in 2016 that Slameka advised him to plead guilty to four murders he didn’t commit and to seek a bench trial.