Articles Posted in Michigan Supreme Court

by
The issue before the Supreme Court was whether MCR 6.302 and constitutional due process require a trial court to inform a defendant pleading guilty or no contest to first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I) or second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSCII) that he or she will be sentenced to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring, if required by MCL 750.520b(2)(d) or MCL 750.520c(2)(b). Defendant David Cole was charged with two counts of CSC-II under MCL 750.520c(1)(a). The trial court agreed not to exceed a five-year minimum term of imprisonment for each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently. At the plea hearing, the prosecution read both CSC-II counts and described them as being punishable by up to 15 years in prison and requiring mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Defendant indicated to the trial court that he understood the CSC-II charges and that he faced a maximum penalty of 15 years' imprisonment. The trial court stated that it had agreed to a five-year concurrent cap on the minimum sentence, but that it had made no other agreement with regard to the plea or the sentence. The trial court never informed Defendant that, if sentenced to prison, he would be subject to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring. Defendant moved to amend the judgment of sentence or permit withdrawal of his plea, arguing in part that the failure to advise him of the mandatory penalty of lifetime electronic monitoring rendered his plea involuntary. The trial court denied the motion, and Defendant sought leave to appeal. In a split opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and remanded to allow Defendant the opportunity to withdraw his plea. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring is part of the sentence itself. Therefore, at the time a defendant enters a guilty or no-contest plea, the trial court must inform the defendant if he or she will be subject to mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring. In the absence of this information about a direct and automatic consequence of a defendant's decision to enter a plea and forgo his or her right to a trial, no defendant could be said to have entered an understanding and voluntary plea. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on this issue. View "Michigan v. Cole" on Justia Law

by
Defendant James Buie was convicted in 2001 of sexually assaulting BS and two female minors: LS, age 13, and DS, age 9. The assaults occurred after BS, seeking to trade sex for cocaine, invited defendant into the apartment where she was babysitting LS and DS. In lieu of the desired bargain, Defendant held BS at gunpoint and raped her, LS, and DS. LS and DS were unable to identify the man who assaulted them, but at trial BS identified defendant as the perpetrator of the crimes. The Supreme Court granted leave to appeal to consider whether witness testimony taken by two-way, interactive video was properly admitted during defendant’s trial. The Court's consideration implicated two issues: (1) whether Defendant's constitutional right to be confronted with the witnesses against him was violated by the admission of video testimony; and (2) whether the admission of video testimony violated MCR 6.006(C). Because the Court concluded that Defendant waived his right of confrontation under the United States and Michigan Constitutions and that the court rule was not violated, it reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case back to the appellate court for consideration of Defendant’s remaining issues. View "Michigan v. Buie" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was whether a municipality such as a township could be held responsible under MCL 324.3109(2) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA)1 for raw sewage discharged into state waters by private citizens within the township's borders. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that under NREPA, a municipality can be held responsible for, and required to prevent, the discharge when the raw sewage originates within its borders, even when the raw sewage is discharged by a private party and not directly discharged by the municipality itself. The Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals because it interpreted MCL 324.3109(2) in a manner that precluded a municipality from being held responsible for such a discharge. The case was remanded to the Court of Appeals to address remaining arguments made on appeal. View "Dept. of Env. Quality v. Worth Twnsp." on Justia Law

by
This case required the Supreme Court to revisit and reemphasize, several aspects of the test governing motions for a new trial, set forth in "Michigan v. Cress" (664 NW2d 174 (2003)). The Court began with "the unremarkable observation that when the Defendant possesses knowledge of evidence at the time of trial, that evidence cannot be characterized as 'newly discovered' under the first part of the 'Cress' test." In addition, the Court clarified that knowledge of evidence at the time of trial necessarily implicates the third part of the "Cress" test, which requires the Defendant to undertake "reasonable diligence" to discover and produce the evidence at trial. Furthermore, the Court emphasized that the Defendant carries the burden of making the requisite showing regarding each of the four parts of the "Cress" test. "Adherence to these principles-- each of which is discernable from our caselaw-- is necessary to maintain the balance between generally upholding the finality of criminal judgments, and unsettling such judgments in the unusual case in which justice under the law requires." In this case, the Court concluded that the Court of Appeals "strayed" from these principles by overlooking that Defendant and defense counsel were both well aware at the time of trial alleged newly discovered evidence could have supported the defense and impermissibly relieved Defendant of her burden of showing that she could not, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced the evidence at trial. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals, reinstated the trial court's order denying Defendant's motion for a new trial, and remanded to the Court of Appeals for consideration of Defendant's remaining issues. View "Michigan v. Rao" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted Defendant Auto Club Insurance Association's bypass application for leave to appeal in this case to determine whether the minority/insanity tolling provision of MCL 600.5851(1) applied to toll the one-year-back rule in MCL 500.3145(1) of the no-fault act. Plaintiff Doreen Joseph sought to recover no-fault benefits for losses dating back 32 years before she brought her action. In denying Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, the circuit court relied on "Univ. of Mich. Regents v Titan Ins Co." to hold that the minority/insanity tolling provision tolls the one-year-back rule. The Court once again held that the minority/insanity tolling provision, which addresses only when an action may be brought, does not preclude the application of the one-year-back rule, which separately limits the amount of benefits that can be recovered: "We recognize the necessity for, and value of, stability in the law and take no pleasure in overruling a precedent of recent vintage by this Court. But 'Regents' itself simply failed to apply our then recent decision in 'Cameron,' resulting in a decision that patently failed to enforce the requirements of the statutes that it interpreted. Because the holding in Regents contravened the Legislature's clear and unambiguous language in MCL 500.3145(1) and MCL 600.5851(1), Regents is overruled and we reinstate 'Cameron.'" The case was remanded back to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Joseph v. Auto Club Insurance Ass'n" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Glenn Williams appealed his conviction of armed robbery, arguing that because he was unsuccessful in feloniously taking or removing any actual property from the intended target of his robbery, there was not a sufficient factual basis to support his guilty plea to the charge of armed robbery. Upon review, the Supreme Court disagreed: "[w]hen the Legislature revised the robbery statute, MCL 750.530, to encompass a 'course of conduct' theory of robbery, it specifically included 'an attempt to commit the larceny' as sufficient to sustain a conviction for robbery itself. [The Court] conclude[d] that this amendment effectuated a substantive change in the law governing robbery in Michigan such that a completed larceny is no longer necessary to sustain a conviction for the crime of robbery or armed robbery." View "Michigan v. Williams" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted the prosecution’s application for leave to appeal to resolve whether Michigan law recognizes the doctrine of "imperfect self-defense" as an independent theory that automatically mitigates criminal liability for a homicide from murder to voluntary manslaughter when a defendant acts as the initial aggressor and then claims that the victim’s response necessitated the use of force. The Court held that the doctrine does not exist in Michigan law as a freestanding defense mitigating murder to voluntary manslaughter, although the Court recognized that factual circumstances that have been characterized as imperfect self-defense may negate the malice element of second-degree murder. When analyzing the elements of manslaughter in light of defendant’s self-defense claim, the Court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred in its ruling on the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence to sustain Defendant Verdell Reese, III's manslaughter conviction. Therefore, the Court reversed in part the Court of Appeals’ judgment, affirmed the trial court’s verdict of manslaughter, and remanded this case to the Court of Appeals for further consideration of Defendant’s remaining issue on appeal. View "Michigan v. Reese" on Justia Law

by
In combined cases, the Supreme Court examined the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to decide whether several issues relating to the Act's notice provision mandate notice be sent to the appropriate tribe or to the Secretary of the Interior. Because the question of whether notice violations occurred in these cases began with determining whether the tribal-notice requirement was triggered, the Court first considered what indicia of Indian heritage sufficed to trigger the notice requirement. Further, the Court then considered whether a parent could waive the rights granted by ICWA to an Indian child's tribe and determine the appropriate recordkeeping requirements necessary to document the trial court's efforts to comply with ICWA's notice provision. "While it is impossible to articulate a precise rule that will encompass every possible factual situation, in light of the interests protected by ICWA, the potentially high costs of erroneously concluding that notice need not be sent, and the relatively low burden of erring in favor of requiring notice, we think the standard for triggering the notice requirement of 25 USC 1912(a) must be a cautionary one." Upon review, the Supreme Court held that: (1) sufficiently reliable information of virtually any criteria on which tribal membership might be based suffices to trigger the notice requirement; (2) a parent of an Indian child cannot waive the separate and independent ICWA rights of an Indian child's tribe and that the trial court must maintain a documentary record; and (3) the proper remedy for an ICWA-notice violation is to conditionally reverse the trial court and remand for resolution of the ICWA-notice issue. View "In re J.L. Gordon, Minor" on Justia Law

by
In combined cases, the Supreme Court examined the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to decide whether several issues relating to the Act's notice provision mandate notice be sent to the appropriate tribe or to the Secretary of the Interior. Because the question of whether notice violations occurred in these cases began with determining whether the tribal-notice requirement was triggered, the Court first considered what indicia of Indian heritage sufficed to trigger the notice requirement. Further, the Court then considered whether a parent could waive the rights granted by ICWA to an Indian child's tribe and determine the appropriate recordkeeping requirements necessary to document the trial court's efforts to comply with ICWA's notice provision. "While it is impossible to articulate a precise rule that will encompass every possible factual situation, in light of the interests protected by ICWA, the potentially high costs of erroneously concluding that notice need not be sent, and the relatively low burden of erring in favor of requiring notice, we think the standard for triggering the notice requirement of 25 USC 1912(a) must be a cautionary one." Upon review, the Supreme Court held that: (1) sufficiently reliable information of virtually any criteria on which tribal membership might be based suffices to trigger the notice requirement; (2) a parent of an Indian child cannot waive the separate and independent ICWA rights of an Indian child's tribe and that the trial court must maintain a documentary record; and (3) the proper remedy for an ICWA-notice violation is to conditionally reverse the trial court and remand for resolution of the ICWA-notice issue. View "In re C.I. Morris, Minor" on Justia Law

by
This case arose from a physical struggle between Defendant Angel Moreno, Jr. and two Holland police officers when the officers sought to enter Defendant's home without a warrant. As a result, Defendant was charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer and causing injury under MCL 750.81d. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether Defendant was properly charged after trial. It was determined that the officers entered his home illegally. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that MCL 750.81d did not abrogate Defendant's common-law right to resist illegal police conduct. As such, the Court instructed the trial court to grant Defendant's motion to quash the charges against him on the basis that the officers' conduct was unlawful. View "Michigan v. Moreno" on Justia Law