Articles Posted in Michigan Supreme Court

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Justin Comer pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree (CSC-I) and second-degree home invasion. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 51 months to 18 years for the CSC-I conviction and 51 months to 15 years for the second-degree home invasion conviction. The judgment of sentence included a line to be checked by the trial court, indicating: “The defendant is subject to lifetime monitoring under MCL 750.520n.” This line was not checked, and the trial court did not otherwise indicate that defendant was subject to lifetime electronic monitoring. At issue before the Michigan Supreme Court was whether the trial court’s failure to impose lifetime electronic monitoring as a part of defendant’s sentence for CSC-I rendered defendant’s sentence invalid and, if so, whether the trial court could correct the invalid sentence on its own initiative 19 months after the original judgment of sentence had entered. The Court held that defendant’s sentence was invalid because MCL 750.520b(2)(d) required the trial court to sentence defendant to lifetime electronic monitoring. Furthermore, the Court held that under MCR 6.435 and MCR 6.429, the trial court erred by correcting defendant’s invalid sentence on its own initiative absent a motion from either party. This case was remanded back to the trial court to reinstate the original judgment of sentence. View "Michigan v. Comer" on Justia Law

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The scope of the implied license to approach a house and knock is time-sensitive; it generally does not extend to predawn approaches. While approaching a home with the purpose of gathering information is not, standing alone, a Fourth Amendment search. However, an information-gathering approach combined with a trespass is a Fourth Amendment search. Michael Frederick and Todd Van Doorne were separately charged with various drug offenses after seven officers from the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team made unscheduled visits to the defendants’ respective homes during predawn hours. Officers woke defendants and their families for the purpose of questioning each defendant about marijuana butter that they suspected the defendants possessed. Both defendants subsequently consented to a search of their respective homes, and marijuana butter and other marijuana products were recovered from each home. Defendants moved to suppress the evidence, and the trial court denied the motions, concluding that the officers had not conducted a search by knocking on defendants’ doors during the predawn hours and that the subsequent consent searches were valid. The Court of Appeals consolidated the two cases and issued a split opinion. The majority concluded that the officers’ predawn “knock and talk” visits were within the scope of the public’s implied license because homeowners would be unsurprised to find a predawn visitor delivering a newspaper or seeking emergency assistance, but the dissenting judge concluded that the police conduct violated the Fourth Amendment because the searches, which occurred during hours at which a homeowner would not expect visitors, were outside the scope of a proper knock and talk procedure. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the trial court to determine whether defendants’ consent to search was attenuated from the officers’ illegal search. View "Michigan v. Frederick" on Justia Law

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Points may be assessed for OV 5 even absent proof that a victim’s family member has sought or received, or intends to seek or receive, professional treatment. Tiwaun Calloway was convicted by jury of second-degree murder on an aiding-and-abetting theory for his role in a man’s death. The trial court sentenced Calloway to 20 to 50 years of imprisonment. At sentencing, the court scored Offense Variable 5 (OV 5) at 15 points for the serious psychological injury suffered by two of the victim’s family members as a result of the victim’s death. Calloway sought delayed leave to appeal. While his leave application was pending, Calloway moved in the trial court for reissuance of the judgment of sentence under MCR 6.428. The trial court granted the motion, and Calloway filed a claim of appeal from the reissued judgment. The Court of Appeals granted Calloway’s delayed application for leave. The appeals were consolidated. The Court of Appeals affirmed Calloway’s conviction, but the Court vacated Calloway’s sentence after it determined that OV 5 should have been scored at zero points. Both Calloway and the prosecution appealed: Calloway, to appeal his conviction, and the State, to appeal the Court of Appeals’ decision regarding OV 5. The Michigan Supreme Court found adequate proof of that the victim's family member suffered serious psychological harm requiring professional treatment, the Court determined the appellate court erred in reversing the trial court's 15 point-assessment for OV 5. View "Michigan v. Calloway" on Justia Law

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This case centered on whether a trial court, in its discretion, could hold an evidentiary hearing to collaterally review a magistrate’s finding of probable cause on the basis of a defendant’s challenge to the veracity of a warrant affidavit in light of the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Franks v Delaware, 438 US 154 (1978). The Court of Appeals interpreted “Franks” as barring a trial court from granting a defendant an evidentiary hearing to challenge the veracity of a search warrant affidavit following the warrant’s execution “unless the defendant makes ‘[the] substantial preliminary showing’ ” as set forth in “Franks.” The Michigan Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and held that “Franks” controlled the circumstances under which “the Fourth Amendment requires that a hearing be held at the defendant’s request,” but Franks did not bar a trial court from exercising its discretion to grant evidentiary hearings concerning the veracity of search warrant affidavits under other circumstances. Because the prosecutor did not appeal the trial court’s conclusion that the warrant affidavit was not supported by probable cause, the only issue before the appellate court was whether the trial court abused its discretion by holding the evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted defendant’s motion for an evidentiary hearing. View "Michigan v. Franklin" on Justia Law

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John Barrera was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-II) for sexually assaulting his wife’s granddaughter. Defendant pleaded no contest as a fourth-offense habitual offender to two counts of CSC-II and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-III). At sentencing, defendant objected to the scoring of several Offense Variables (OVs). The court overruled all of defense counsel’s objections to the scoring of the OVs except for the objection to the score for OV 12. Specifically, over defense counsel’s objection, the court scored OV 8 at 15 points because defendant asported the victim to a place of greater danger during his commission of the crimes (defendant took the victim to his bedroom where he sexually assaulted her). In an unpublished order, the Court of Appeals denied for lack of merit defendant’s delayed application for leave to appeal. Defendant then sought leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court held that movement of a victim incidental to the commission of a crime qualified as asportation under OV 8. Therefore, the Court overruled the controlling case to the extent that they stood for the contrary proposition, and the Court concluded that the trial court properly scored OV 8 at 15 points. In light of the trial court’s error in scoring OV 11, the Court remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Michigan v. Barrera" on Justia Law

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In the early morning hours of May 5, 2014, a ruckus at a Brighton bar resulted in a call to the police. Two officers from the Brighton Police Department responded: Christopher Parks, a full-time police officer, and Douglas Roberts, a reserve police officer. Defendant Ryan Feeley was arrested and charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer. Defendant objected to the prosecution’s request for a bindover, arguing that: (1) Roberts did not have an articulable suspicion for stopping defendant in the first place, and (2) defendant could not be held criminally liable for resisting and obstructing under MCL 750.81d because Roberts, being a reserve police officer, was not a “police officer” within the meaning of that statute. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ ruling that reserve police officers were not police officers for purposes of MCL 750.81d(7)(b)(i). The case was remanded to the Court of Appeals to address whether the district court correctly ruled that the reserve police officer in this case lacked the authority to conduct a stop of defendant. View "Michigan v. Hall" on Justia Law

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Defendant Brandon Hall was hired by a prospective judicial candidate to gather nominating signatures of qualified voters in the 2012 election for the 58th District Court. By the evening before the May 1, 2012 deadline to file the nominating petitions, defendant had not gathered the 1,000 signatures necessary to nominate the candidate. That night, defendant filled in blank nominating petitions with false names and addresses and then signed the petitions with those false names. Defendant was aware that false elector names and signatures appeared on the petitions but nonetheless signed each as the circulator, certifying that each petition had been properly circulated and actually signed by qualified voters. The petitions were ultimately filed with the Bureau of Elections on May 1. The State charged defendant with 10 counts of forgery under MCL 168.937, bringing a separate felony count for each of the 10 forged nominating petitions. Defendant was arraigned on these charges. The prosecutor moved to bind the case over to the Ottawa Circuit Court for trial, and defendant objected. Defendant argued that the stipulated facts accepted by the district court supported only misdemeanor charges under MCL 168.544c. After a hearing on the motion, the district court denied the motion to bind defendant over for trial on the felony charges. The district court concluded that MCL 168.937 only imposed felony liability for prohibited conduct expressly identified as “forgery” elsewhere in the Michigan Election Law. After its review, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that there was no conflict between MCL 168.544c and MCL 168.937. Instead, the Legislature has provided differing punishments for two distinct offenses, and each applied independently to prohibit defendant’s conduct. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded this case to the 58th District Court for further proceedings. View "Michigan v. Feeley" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether a homeowner, or another person rightfully possessing a home, commits criminal larceny by removing fixtures from the home after it has been foreclosed on and sold at a sheriff’s sale, but before the statutory redemption period has expired. Defendant Timothy March was arrested and charged with such a crime. He argued in an attempt to quash the information against him that the fixtures were not the proper subject of the crime of larceny, and that he could not have wrongfully taken property of another because he retained legal title and the right of possession throughout the redemption period, during which time the removal of the fixtures had occurred. The prosecution conceded that defendant had the right to possess the house during the redemption period, so the charges were eventually dismissed. The Court of Appeals reversed, however, finding that the “owner” of property included not only the titleholder of that property, but also “any other person whose consent was necessary before the property could be taken.” Therefore, the sheriff's sale purchaser "owned" the fixtures because his consent was necessary before they could be taken by defendant. This "consent" ground, as deduced by the Court of Appeals in its analysis of Michigan caselaw and the applicable statutes, was incorrect, according to the Supreme Court. "The right to consent could not serve as a proxy for the right to possession, because neither of the sources of legal authority on which the court relied gives rise to the right to possession. MCL 600.3278 does not endow the purchaser with a possessory right, nor does the equitable title held by [the sheriff's sale purchaser]." View "Michigan v. March" on Justia Law

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In three consolidated cases, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the question of whether defendants’ false statements made while serving as law enforcement officers during an internal affairs investigation could be used against them in criminal proceedings. This case arose out of a "disturbing" encounter between Dajuan Hodges-Lamar and defendants, who at the time were police officers for the city of Detroit. While on duty in November 2009, defendant Hughes approached Hodges-Lamar while he was seated in a car at a gas station. Hughes initially appeared to question Hodges-Lamar, but quickly proceeded to assault him while defendants Harris and Little, who were also on duty, stood by and did nothing to stop the assault. Hodges-Lamar filed a complaint with the Detroit Police Department, which spurred an internal investigation by the Detroit Police Department’s Office of the Chief Investigator (OCI). All three defendants were called to testify at a Garrity hearing. The OCI presented defendants with an advice-of-rights form drafted by the Detroit Police Department. All three defendants made false statements at the Garrity hearing. Defendants Harris and Little denied that Hughes had any physical contact with Hodges-Lamar. Hughes admitted that he removed Hodges-Lamar from Hodges-Lamar’s car during questioning, but Hughes maintained that he did not use any unnecessary force against Hodges-Lamar. A video recording of the incident surfaced after defendants had made their statements, wholly at odds with the statements provided by defendants. Hughes was charged with common-law felony misconduct in office, misdemeanor assault and battery, and obstruction of justice. Defendants Harris and Little were each charged with one count of common-law obstruction of justice. Defendants brought motions in district court to dismiss the obstruction-of-justice charges. The district court concluded that defendants’ statements were protected by the disclosures by law enforcement officers act (DLEOA), even if the information provided was false or misleading. The court determined that without defendants’ statements the obstruction-of-justice charges could not be sustained and dismissed those charges. The prosecution appealed in the circuit court, which concluded that the district court had not abused its discretion by dismissing the obstruction-of-justice charges. The Court of Appeals reversed, but the Supreme Court found no error in the district court's dismissal, and reinstated that court's judgment. View "Michigan v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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As a result of a 2007 misdemeanor conviction of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, defendant was required to register on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry semiannually for 25 years. Defendant failed to properly register and in February 2010 pleaded guilty of SORA-1, a felony, and was sentenced to 5 years’ probation, with the first 4 months served in jail. In 2012, defendant listed a vacant house as his residence for SORA purposes, and he was arrested for failing to comply with SORA. In June 2013, a jury convicted defendant of SORA-2. Although MCL 28.729(1)(b) provided for a maximum sentence of 7 years, the trial court sentenced defendant under MCL 769.10(1)(a) as a second-offense habitual offender to 2 to 10.5 years’ imprisonment. The issue this case presented for the Michigan Supreme Court's review was whether defendant as a SORA second offender could be subject to a sentence enhancement under the Habitual Offender Act (HOA). The Court of Appeals agreed with defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the sentence imposed for defendant’s SORA-2 conviction could be enhanced under the habitual-offender statutes because the Legislature created separate offenses for subsequent violations of SORA. View "Michigan v. Allen" on Justia Law