A law enforcement officer’s involuntary statement cannot be used against the officer in a criminal proceeding, even if the statement is false, says MSC

Under the Disclosures by Law Enforcement Officers Act (DLEOA), an involuntary statement made by a law enforcement officer, and any information taken from that statement, may not be used against the officer in a criminal proceeding.  The Michigan Supreme Court, in three consolidated cases—People v. Harris, No. 149872; People v. Little, No. 149873; and People v. Hughes, 150042—held that the DLEOA applies even if those statement are false. Read More

Newly created police ballistics report is not grounds for granting a remand to district court to continue preliminary examination

There are several recognized grounds for a circuit court remand to district court for a continued preliminary examination in a criminal case, but the release of a newly prepared police ballistics report is not one of them.   The Michigan Court of Appeals recently established this in the consolidated cases of People v. Taylor, No. 330497, and People v. Watkins, No. 330499, holding the circuit court erred in remanding the case to the district court, even though the police ballistics report created after the preliminary examination would have been useful in cross examination. Read More

COA: Voters have a legal right to enforce state election law requirements

Michigan election law requires a candidate to file an affidavit of identity containing several pieces of information, including the precinct number where the candidate is registered. Because Michigan election law prohibits an officer from certifying a candidate who does not comply with the affidavit of identity requirements, an elector may vindicate the public’s right under this statute by requiring strict adherence to these statutory duties, the Court of Appeals held in Berry v. Garrett, No. 333225. Read More

COA declines to expand narrow intentional tort exception to exclusive remedy provision of Workers Disability Compensation Act

In Luce v Kent Foundry Co, No. 327978, the Court of Appeals dismissed a personal injury lawsuit brought under the intentional tort exception to the Workers Disability Compensation Act (WDCA). The Court held that the facts in Luce did not meet the high standard required to satisfy the intentional tort exception to the exclusive remedy provision of the WDCA and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition. Read More

COA holds that attorneys are members of a “public body” under the Whisteblower’s Protection Act

In Tammy McNeil-Marks v. Mid-Michigan Medical Center-Gratiot, No. 326606, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that attorneys are considered members of “public bodies” under the Michigan Whistleblower’s Protection Act (“WPA”).  Under the WPA “public body” is defined as among other things a body “created by state or local authority or which is primarily funded through state or local authority, or any member or employee of that body.”  Because a licensed Michigan attorney in good standing is a member of the Michigan Bar Association, which, in turn, is created by state authority, a report to him or her is a report to a public body for purposes of the WPA. Read More

Trial counsel ineffective for failure to object to inadmissible hearsay testimony and failure to present evidence of other possible sources of victim’s injuries

In People v. Shaw, No. 313786, the Court of Appeals held that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to inadmissible hearsay which tended to bolster the victim’s credibility, and failing to present evidence of an alternative source of the victim’s injuries, where there was no reasonable strategic reason for either decision. The court reasoned that the failure to object to hearsay in this case was especially significant because it bolstered the victim’s credibility in a case with a lack of conclusive physical evidence. Further, trial counsel’s failure to investigate and offer testimony of an alternative source of the victim’s injuries may have led the jury to conclude that there was no other cause, other than defendant’s abuse, that could have led to the victim’s injuries. The Court of Appeals also decided that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting, over objection, improper impeachment testimony.  The Court of Appeals concluded that but for counsel’s deficient performance, a different result would have been reasonably probable. Accordingly, the jury’s conviction was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.
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MSC: Conviction for SORA-2 subject to sentence enhancement under HOA

The Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), MCL 28.729(1), outlines different punishments based on the number of times a defendant is convicted for failing to register properly as a sex offender—SORA-1 (first conviction), SORA-2 (second conviction), and SORA-3 (three or more convictions)—and each conviction is a felony.  The Habitual Offender Act (HOA) enhances the sentence of a defendant convicted of a second felony (MCL 769.10(1)(a)), and directs a court to impose a maximum sentence “that is not more than 1½ times the longest term prescribed for a first conviction of that offense.”  The Michigan Supreme Court in People v. Allen, No. 151843, held that SORA-2 is a separate offense from SORA-1, and is subject to the HOA sentence enhancement.
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COA: Tender does not constitute payment of redemption funds sufficient to void a sheriff's deed

Actual payment of redemption payoff is required to void a sheriff’s deed; furthermore district court determinations of possession may control quiet title actions, according to the Court of Appeals in Ronald E. Johnston Sr. v. Sterling Mortgage and Investment Company No. 324855MCL 600.3240 provides that a sheriff deed is void if property is redeemed by paying the required payoff amount, within the applicable time limit, to the purchaser of the property, or to the register of deeds. Appellants attempted to redeem foreclosed property yet never transferred any funds to the purchasers or register of deeds. Appellants argue that they were obstructed by appellees failure to provide necessary computation of the redemption amount, yet the Court determined that the register of deeds was still a viable option to complete the redemption of the property. Furthermore, appellants failed to contact the party listed on the Affidavit of Purchase in regards to the payoff amount. Read More

COA: A previous owner of property cannot file an affidavit that the property was qualified agricultural property for tax purposes

The Court of Appeals held in Lyle Schmidt Farms LLC v. Township of Mendon, Nos. 326609, 326611, 327909, 327916, that only a current owner of the property can file an affidavit pursuant to MCL 211.7dd(d) to ensure that the property remains capped for agricultural property tax purposes. Read More

COA holds that members of the Parole and Commutation Board do not have vested contractual rights to hold their positions

In Aguirre v. Dep't of Corrections, No. 327022, the Court of Appeals held that appointments to public office do not create a contractual right to hold that office, and when an office is abolished, or an officer lawfully removed, he or she is not entitled to payment for future services which would have been rendered but for the elimination of the office. Read More
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