Joseph E. Richotte

Mr. Richotte dedicates his practice to vigorously defending against criminal and civil enforcement actions that threaten business interests and personal liberty.

White-Collar Criminal Defense and Civil Enforcement

Mr. Richotte regularly counsels corporations, executives, and other professionals who are under investigation or charged with white-collar crimes. His experience includes defending clients against accusations of complex domestic and international frauds, conspiracies, and regulatory offenses in the securities, banking, healthcare, automotive, and defense industries.

Mr. Richotte also regularly represents clients facing increasingly common parallel civil proceedings, such as SEC enforcement actions, NHTSA recalls, asset forfeitures, debarment actions, and private civil suits capitalizing on the government’s investigation.

Mr. Richotte has been honored four times by Michigan SuperLawyers as a “rising star” within the white-collar defense bar.

Representative Matters:

  • In re Transamerica Search Warrant, No. 14-714135-FY (Mich. 18th Dist. Ct.), successfully quashed an out-of-state search warrant directed toward a financial institution.
  • United States v. $149,572.63, No. 13-cv-12375 (E.D. Mich.), successfully resolved a civil asset forfeiture action tied to the Black Market Peso Exchange.
  • People v. Richardson, No. 09-S-0691 (Mich. 19th Dist. Ct.), secured the dismissal of a felony embezzlement charge at the preliminary examination for lack of probable cause.
  • Grievance Adm’r v. Capello, 08-111-GA (Mich. Atty. Discipline Bd.), secured acquittal on attorney ethics charges.
  • United States v. Panyard, No. 07-cr-200307 (E.D. Mich.), secured a sentence 45% below the guideline range in an environmental fraud case.

Appellate Practice

Mr. Richotte is also a member of the Firm’s appellate practice. He focuses on criminal appeals, appeals from government enforcement actions, media appeals, and appeals in complex business litigation. He has been honored by DBusiness as a top appellate lawyer in Detroit.

Representative Matters:

  • Kurns v. Railroad Friction Prods. Corp., No. 10-879 (U.S. Supreme Ct.), principal author of amicus brief favoring federal preemption of all state common-law claims for injuries caused by locomotive equipment.
  • Bitterman v. Bolf, No. 151520 (Mich. Supreme Ct.), principal author of amicus brief favoring broad application of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act to delegates performing statutory functions on behalf of public bodies.
  • Polytorx, LLC v. University of Michigan, Nos. 318151 and 320989 (Mich. Ct. App.), secured an interlocutory reversal of an adverse summary judgment ruling in a trade-secrets case that resulted in a pre-discovery judgment in favor of the University.
  • Gary v. E! Networks Productions, LLC, No. 304720 (Mich. Ct. App.), successfully defended dismissal of a defamation action.

Media Practice

Mr. Richotte is also a member of the Firm’s media practice. He is Assistant General Counsel to the Michigan Press Association, and he represents national and local media organizations and journalists. He handles a broad array of media matters, including First Amendment cases, defamation actions, and open-government issues.

Representative Matters:

  • Gary v. E! Networks Productions, LLC, No. 11-118563-CZ (Mich. Cir. Ct.), obtained pre-discovery dismissal of a defamation action.
  • People v. Leist, No. 14-049-FY (Mich. Dist. Ct.), secured dismissal of a criminal action against a photographer filed in connection with photographs of an airplane crash site.


Mr. Richotte attended Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan, where he graduated cum laude. He is a member of the Order of the Coif and Phi Beta Kappa.


  • Wayne State University 2004, B.S. Criminal Justice Honors
  • Wayne State University Law School 2007, J.D.


Michigan Super Lawyers, Rising Star - White Collar Criminal Defense, 2013-2021

DBusiness Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit, Appellate Law, 2013, 2018-2021; White Collar Criminal Defense, 2016-2018, 2021; Antitrust Law, 2021

Michigan Defense Trial Counsel: 2013 Golden Gavel Recipient for Professionalism and Pro Bono Service


  • Michigan
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan


State Bar of Michigan

Federal Bar Association

American Bar Association


  • Represented multiple Japanese Auto Supplier companies in criminal antitrust investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (Washington, DC)
  • Represented a former Chief Financial Officer and Controller of several corporations accused in state court of embezzling almost $200,000.
  • Obtained a declination of prosecution for an accounting officer of an international automotive supplier after investigation by the DOJ and the SEC
  • Represented a lawyer seeking reinstatement of his license to practice law.
  • Represented a defense contractor accused of fraudulently supplying non-conforming materials to the Department of Defense.
  • Represented a former employee accused of stealing more than $100 million worth of trade secrets from his employers in violation of the federal economic espionage act.
  • Represented a major automotive supplier under investigation for allegedly participating in a several hundred million dollar international antitrust price-fixing conspiracy.
  • Represented executive of an environmental company charged with criminal violations of the Clean Water Act and related environmental statutes
  • Represented lawyers accused by ethics authorities of conduct unbecoming a lawyer, including criminal conduct.
  • Represented a major international cement and concrete corporation accused by private litigants of participating in a several hundred million dollar antitrust price-fixing conspiracy.
  • Represented a company in connection with a bribery investigation.
  • Represented a former high-ranking government official in a public-corruption investigation.
  • Represented a physician accused of illegally prescribing pain medication to individuals without a medical need.
  • Represented a lawyer accused by ethics authorities of having a conflict of interest with a client.
  • Represented a sales executive accused of helping a Fortune 500 company's employee steal tens of thousands of dollars from the customer-company.
  • Successfully defended and defeated class certification motions in a multi-million dollar Florida concrete antitrust action


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