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Dwayne Wilson was convicted by jury on one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm), and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. Because defendant had two prior felony-firearm convictions, defendant was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment as a third felony-firearm offender under MCL 750.227b(1), followed by concurrent terms of 100 to 180 months’ imprisonment for the unlawful-imprisonment counts. Defendant objected at sentencing, arguing that his felony-firearm sentence was improper because his two prior convictions for felony-firearm arose from a single incident. Defendant cited Michigan v Stewart, 441 Mich 89 (1992), but the circuit court held that Stewart was no longer good law because it relied on Michigan v Preuss, 436 Mich 714 (1990), which had been overruled by Michigan v Gardner, 482 Mich 41 (2008), and the court further held that nothing in the language of MCL 750.227b(1) required the previous felony-firearm convictions to have arisen from separate incidents. Defendant appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded in an unpublished per curiam opinion, holding that defendant should have been sentenced as a second felony-firearm offender rather than a third felony-firearm offender because lower courts remained bound by Stewart unless and until the Supreme Court overruled it. The Court of Appeals further held that defendant was entitled to a remand under Michigan v Lockridge, 498 Mich 358 (2015). The prosecution appealed, and the Michigan Supreme Court overruled Stewart because it found nothing in the text of MCL 750.227b(1) required a repeat felony-firearm offender’s prior felony-firearm convictions arise from separate criminal incidents, and the stare decisis factors did not counsel in favor of retaining the erroneous rule. View "Michigan v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) filed a formal complaint against 14-A District Court Judge J. Cedric Simpson, alleging three counts of judicial misconduct arising from a 2013 incident where Crystal Vargas, one of respondent’s interns, was involved in a motor vehicle accident near respondent’s home. Vargas immediately called respondent, and he arrived at the scene approximately 10 minutes later. As the investigating officer was administering a field sobriety test, respondent identified himself to the officer as a judge, had a conversation with Vargas without the officer’s permission. Vargas had a breath-alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit, and she was placed under arrest. Respondent contacted the township attorney who would be handling Vargas’s case, said that Vargas was his intern. Respondent also contacted the attorney to discuss defense attorneys Vargas might retain. After an investigation into respondent’s conduct, the JTC filed its formal complaint alleging that respondent had interfered with the police investigation into the accident, interfered with Vargas’s prosecution, and made misrepresentations to the JTC. The master appointed to the case found by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent’s actions constituted judicial misconduct on all three counts. The JTC agreed with these findings and concluded that respondent’s conduct violated the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct and also constituted misconduct in office and conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice under Const 1963, art 6, section 30(2). The JTC recommended that respondent be removed from office and that costs be imposed. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded the JTC correctly found that respondent committed judicial misconduct, but it erred by concluding that removal from office was warranted. A suspension of nine months without pay was proportional to the misconduct. View "In re Hon. J. Cedric Simpson" on Justia Law

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Gino Rea was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). A police officer parked his patrol vehicle in the street in front of defendant’s driveway while responding to noise complaints from defendant’s neighbor. As the officer walked up the straight driveway, defendant backed out of his detached garage and down the driveway. When the officer shined his flashlight to alert defendant that he was in the driveway, defendant stopped his car in the driveway, next to the house. Defendant then put his car in drive and pulled forward into the garage, bumping into stored items in the back of the garage. Defendant, who smelled of alcohol and whose speech was slurred, was arrested for OWI after he refused to take field sobriety tests; defendant’s blood alcohol level was later determined to be three times the legal limit. After arraignment, defendant moved to quash the information. The court granted the motion and dismissed the charge, finding that the upper portion of defendant’s driveway, closest to the garage, was not a place generally accessible to motor vehicles for purposes of criminal liability under MCL 257.625(1). On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order, concluding that because the general public is not widely permitted to access the upper portion of a private driveway, defendant’s operation of his vehicle while intoxicated did not fit within the purview of behavior prohibited under MCL 257.625(1). The Michigan Supreme Court held that because defendant’s conduct occurred in an area generally accessible to motor vehicles, the conduct was within the purview of MCL 257.625(1), and reversed the Court of Appeals, vacated the trial court’s dismissal of the case, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Michigan v. Rea" on Justia Law

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Alexander Steanhouse was convicted by jury for assault with intent to commit murder (AWIM), and receiving and concealing stolen property. The court departed from the sentencing guidelines’ recommended minimum range and sentenced Steanhouse to 30 to 60 years’ imprisonment for AWIM, to run concurrently with a sentence of one to five years’ imprisonment for receiving and concealing stolen property. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions but remanded under the procedure adopted in Michigan v Lockridge, 498 Mich 358 (2015), from United States v Crosby, 397 F3d 103 (CA 2, 2005), to determine whether the sentences were reasonable. Mohammad Masroor was convicted by jury on 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I), and five counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-II). The court departed from the sentencing guidelines’ recommended minimum range and imposed concurrent prison terms of 35 to 50 years for each of the CSC-I convictions and 10 to 15 years for each of the CSC-II convictions. The Court of Appeals affirmed Masroor’s convictions but ordered a Crosby remand and directed the trial court to apply the proportionality standard adopted in Steanhouse. Both defendants appealed, and the Michigan Supreme Court: (1) held the legislative sentencing guidelines are advisory in all applications; (2) held the proper inquiry when reviewing a sentence for reasonableness was whether the trial court abused its discretion by violating the “principle of proportionality” set forth in Michigan v Milbourn, 461 NW2d 1 (1990); (3) declined to import the approach to reasonableness review used by the federal courts into Michigan jurisprudence; (4) agreed with the Court of Appeals that defendant Steanhouse did not preserve his Sixth Amendment challenge to the scoring of the guidelines and that Masroor did preserve his challenge, but declined to reach the question whether Michigan v Stokes, 877 NW2d 752 (2015), correctly decided that the remedy was exactly the same regardless of whether the error was preserved or unpreserved in light of the fact that both defendants received departure sentences, and that, therefore, neither defendant can show any harm from the application of the mandatory guidelines; (5) reversed, in part, the judgments of the Court of Appeals in both cases to the extent they remanded to the trial court for further sentencing proceedings under United States v Crosby, 397 F3d 103 (CA 2, 2005), finding the proper approach for the Court of Appeals was to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion by violating the principle of proportionality; and (6) because of its ruling in (5), in lieu of granting leave to appeal in the defendants’ appeals the Court remanded for plenary consideration of whether the departure sentences imposed by the trial courts were reasonable under the standard articulated here. View "Michigan v. Steanhouse" on Justia Law

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Defendant Tmando Denson was convicted by jury of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. The charges stemmed from an altercation defendant had with a 17-year-old who was dating defendant’s 15-year-old daughter: defendant discovered the two in the daughter’s bedroom, partially undressed. The issue this case presented for the Michigan Supreme Court’s review was whether evidence of defendant’s prior act was admissible under MRE 404(b) to rebut claims of self-defense and defense of others: that he honestly and reasonably believed his use of force was necessary to defend himself or another. The Court held the trial court erred when it admitted defendant’s prior act because the prosecution failed to establish that it was logically relevant to a proper noncharacter purpose. The Court also concluded this error was not harmless. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals was reversed and the matter remanded to the trial court for a new trial. View "Michigan v. Denson" on Justia Law

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In Docket No. 151800, Clam Lake Township and Haring Charter Township (the Townships) appealed the determination of the State Boundary Commission (the Commission) that an agreement entered into under the Intergovernmental Conditional Transfer of Property by Contract Act (Act 425 agreement) between the Townships was invalid. In Docket No. 153008, as the Commission proceedings in Docket No. 151800 were ongoing, TeriDee, LLC brought an action against the Townships, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Act 425 agreement was void as against public policy because it contracted away Haring’s zoning authority by obligating Haring’s zoning board to rezone pursuant to the agreement. The Act 425 agreement at issue here sought to transfer to Haring Charter Township an undeveloped parcel of roughly 241 acres of land in Clam Lake Township that was zoned for forest-recreational use. The agreement provided a description of the Townships’ desired economic development project, including numerous minimum requirements for rezoning the property. Approximately 141 acres of the land were owned by TeriDee LLC, the John F. Koetje Trust, and the Delia Koetje Trust (collectively, TeriDee), who wished to develop the land for commercial use. To achieve this goal, TeriDee petitioned the Commission to have the land annexed by the city of Cadillac. The Commission found TeriDee’s petition legally sufficient and concluded that the Townships’ Act 425 agreement was invalid because it was created solely as a means to bar the annexation and not as a means of promoting economic development. The Townships appealed the decision in the circuit court, and the court upheld the Commission’s determination, concluding that the Commission had the power to determine the validity of an Act 425 agreement. The Townships sought leave to appeal in the Court of Appeals, which the Court of Appeals denied in an unpublished order. The Michigan Supreme Court held: (1) the State Boundary Commission did not have the authority to determine the validity of the Act 425 agreement and could only find whether an agreement was "in effect"; and (2) an Act 425 agreement can include requirements that a party enact particular zoning ordinances, and the Court of Appeals erred by concluding to the contrary. TeriDee's annexation petition was preempted. Both cases were remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Clam Lake Township v. Dept. of Licensing & Reg. Affairs" on Justia Law

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Baruch SLS, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit corporation, sought exemptions from real and personal property taxes as a charitable institution under MCL 211.7o and MCL 211.9 for tax years 2010–2012. Petitioner based its request on the fact that it offered an income-based subsidy to qualifying residents of Stone Crest Assisted Living, one of its adult foster care facilities, provided those residents had made at least 24 monthly payments to petitioner. The Tax Tribunal ruled that Stone Crest was not eligible for the exemptions because petitioner did not qualify as a charitable institution under three of the six factors set forth in Wexford Med Group v City of Cadillac, 474 Mich 192 (2006). The Court of Appeals reversed with respect to two of the Wexford factors, but affirmed the denial of the exemptions on the ground that petitioner had failed to satisfy the third Wexford factor because, by limiting the availability of its income-based subsidy, petitioner offered its services on a discriminatory basis. The Michigan Supreme Court found the third factor in the Wexford test excluded only restrictions or conditions on charity that bore no reasonable relationship to a permissible charitable goal. Because the lower courts did not consider Baruch’s policies under the proper understanding of this factor, the Court vacated the Court of Appeals’ and Tax Tribunal’s opinions in part and remanded this case to the Tax Tribunal for further proceedings. View "Baruch SLS, Inc. v. Twp of Tittabawassee" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey and Carol Haksluoto filed a medical malpractice claim against Mt. Clemens Regional Medical Center, General Radiology Associates, PC, and Eli Shapiro, DO, for injuries Jeffrey sustained after he was misdiagnosed in Mt. Clemens’s emergency room. Plaintiffs mailed a notice of intent (NOI) to file a claim on December 26, 2013, the final day of the two-year statutory period of limitations. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on June 27, 2014, which was 183 days after service of the NOI. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the suit was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court denied defendants’ motion. Defendants appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that MCR 1.108 (the rule concerning the calculation of time) was best understood to signify that the 182-day notice period began on December 27, 2013 (the day after plaintiffs served the NOI) and expired on June 26, 2014, which meant that the notice period did not commence until one day after the limitations period had expired, and therefore filing the NOI on the last day of the limitations period failed to toll the statute of limitations. The Michigan Supreme Court granted plaintiffs’ application for review, finding the trial court was correct in its calculation of time. View "Haksluoto v. Mt. Clemens Regional Med. Ctr." on Justia Law

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Defendant operated a parochial school to which plaintiff was denied admission. When plaintiff sued on the basis of disability discrimination, defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing among other things that, under the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine, the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over her claim. Central to defendant’s argument was Dlaikan v Roodbeen, 522 NW2d 719 (1994), which applied the doctrine to conclude that a circuit court had no such jurisdiction over a challenge to the admissions decisions of a parochial school. The circuit court denied defendant’s motion. The Court of Appeals, however, was convinced by defendant’s jurisdictional argument and reversed, thereby granting summary judgment in defendant’s favor. The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed with the appellate court’s determination: “[w]hile Dlaikan and some other decisions have characterized the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine as depriving civil courts of subject matter jurisdiction, it is clear from the doctrine’s origins and operation that this is not so. The ecclesiastical abstention doctrine may affect how a civil court exercises its subject matter jurisdiction over a given claim; it does not divest a court of such jurisdiction altogether. To the extent Dlaikan and other decisions are inconsistent with this understanding of the doctrine, they are overruled.” View "Winkler v. Marist Fathers of Detroit, Inc." on Justia Law

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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