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One Court of Justice Blog

Dec 2016
December 12, 2016

COA holds identities of anonymous bloggers protected by First Amendment

In Fazlul Sarkar v John Doe, Nos. 326667 and 326691, the Court of Appeals held that the identities of anonymous bloggers who comment on other's research online are protected by the First Amendment.  

Nov 2016
November 17, 2016

Sixth Amendment is not violated where court relies on judicial fact-finding to impose consecutive sentencing, says COA

The Sixth Amendment, in conjunction with the Due Process Clause, requires that each element of a crime be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, but that requirement does not apply to the consecutive sentencing statute, according to People v Deleon, No. 329031.  MCL 750.520b(3) allows a term of imprisonment imposed for first-degree criminal sexual conduct to be “served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for any other criminal offense arising from the same transaction.”  In Deleon, the trial judge found that the defendant’s criminal sexual conduct convictions (CSC I and CSC II) both arose from the same transaction and therefore imposed consecutive sentencing.  The court of appeals held that this did not violate the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury.

Nov 2016
November 07, 2016

What an en-tangled web we weave: MSC grants MOAA to consider the scope of the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine

In Winkler v Marist Fathers of Detroit, Inc, No. 152889, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument on whether a court entangles itself in religious doctrine by examining a parochial school’s basis for denying admission.  Bettina Winkler had sought admission to Notre Dame Preparatory High School after receiving repeated assurances that she would be guaranteed admission to the high school if she enrolled in Notre Dame Marist Academy for seventh and eighth grade.  Despite these assurances, however, Notre Dame Preparatory High School did not grant Winkler admission.  Only two months later, Winkler was diagnosed with learning disabilities. She subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination under the Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act (“PWDCRA”), claiming that Notre Dame relied upon her learning disability as a justification for denying her admission to the high school.

Oct 2016
October 14, 2016

Police Beware: Consent to search dwelling for illegal drugs is not consent to seize defendant's cell phone, wallet, and keys

In People v. Mahdi, No. 327767, the Court of Appeals held that the consent to search an apartment for the limited purpose of uncovering illegal drugs does not constitute consent to seize any item. Therefore, the seizure of defendant’s cell phone, wallet, and keys pursuant to the consent exception violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Accordingly, evidence regarding the items seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment should have been excluded at trial and defendant was entitled to a new trial. 

Oct 2016
October 04, 2016

MSC vacates COA holding that $0.25 Friend of the Court assessment is a tax

In Trantham v. State Disbursement Unit, No. 153191, the Michigan Supreme Court vacated the portion of the Court of Appeals’ opinion holding that a $0.25 assessment for the Attorney General’s operations fund—which the Friend of the Court (FOC) collected from child support payers under MCL 600.2538(1)—was a tax.  It also vacated the Court of Appeals’ ruling remanding the case to the Court of Claims to determine the constitutionality of the assessment.  The Court stated that the issue of whether the assessment was a constitutional tax was not raised by either party and was, therefore, unnecessary to the contested issue of whether the FOC’s user fee violated the Takings Clause and substantial due process. 

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