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One Court of Justice Blog

Apr 2016
April 02, 2016

MSC grants mini-oral argument to address the definition of “discriminatory basis” for purposes of obtaining tax exemptions as a charitable institution

In Baruch SLS, Inc v Township of Tittabawassee, No. 152047, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument to consider the definitions of “charitable institution” and “discriminatory basis” in the context of real and property tax exemptions available to charitable institutions under MCL 211.7o.  Baruch is a non-profit organization created to provide home healthcare and other senior lifestyle services.  In the admissions process, Baruch does not consider race, religion, color or national origin.  The applicant must, however, have the ability to pay at the outset.

Apr 2016
April 01, 2016

Self-defense is still a valid affirmative defense to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon

The Michigan Supreme Court, in People v. Triplett, No. 151434, held that the common-law affirmative defense of self-defense is available to a defendant charged with carrying a concealed weapon (“CCW”), MCL 750.227, when the concealed weapon is an “other dangerous weapon.”  In its decision, the Court found that there is no “clear indication” that the Legislature abrogated or modified common-law self-defense in the CCW statute, such that defendant would be precluded from asserting it to justify his actions.

Apr 2016
April 01, 2016

MSC grants MOA to consider whether trial courts have limited discretion to hold hearing on sufficiency of certain affidavits

The Michigan Supreme Court, in People v. Franklin, No. 152840, granted mini-oral argument on the application of leave for appeal to consider whether the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), limited a trial court’s discretion to order a hearing on the sufficiency of an affidavit in support of a search warrant. The Court of Appeals held that, based on Franks, a trial court may not conduct a hearing on the sufficiency of an affidavit supporting a search warrant when a defendant failed to make a “substantial preliminary showing” that an affidavit contains a false statement that was necessary to a finding of probable cause.  According to the Michigan Court of Appeals, for a defendant to get a hearing on the sufficiency of the affidavit, he or she must make a “substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit” and also show that the allegedly false statement was necessary to the finding of probable cause.

Apr 2016
April 01, 2016

Driving with a bike rack or trailer hitch? Beware: it can get you pulled over

In People v. Dunbar, No. 150371, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a self-proclaimed broadly reaching opinion that makes drivers who use bicycle racks, trailer hitches, or other vehicle attachments subject to a traffic ticket for obscuring the vehicle’s license plate.  Not only does this mean that an individual may get a traffic ticket, but also it can lead to the police discovering other potentially unlawful circumstances during the valid traffic stop. Defendant was driving with a trailer hitch that partially obstructed an officer’s view of his license plate.  Based on this, the officer stopped Defendant and, upon approaching the vehicle, smelled marijuana. The officer then conducted a full vehicle search. Defendant moved to suppress the contraband, arguing that it was the result of an illegal search because the officer had no lawful justification for the initial vehicle stop. The trial court disagreed because the license plate was obstructed, but the Court of Appeals reversed. It reasoned that the officer had no authority to stop the vehicle because the license plate itself was clean and visible, and the statute did not contemplate obstructions by towing equipment.

Mar 2016
March 31, 2016

COA – Because Plaintiff’s uninsured vehicle was not being operated at time of accident, insurer for State assigned claims plan must pay for PIP benefits as insurer of last priority

In Shinn v. State of Michigan Secretary of State Assigned Claims Facility, No. 324227, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that security on plaintiff’s vehicle was not required at the time of an accident, under MCL 500.3101(1), because the vehicle had just been repaired and was parked at the time of the accident.  In light of this finding, the Court further held that because there was no operator of plaintiff’s vehicle, the insurer of the vehicle that struck plaintiff’s vehicle was not the insurer under MCL 500.3114(4)(b); and therefore, the insurer of the State assigned claims plan was the insurer of last priority.

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