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One Court of Justice Blog

Feb 2017
February 03, 2017

MSC to hear MOAA on whether “intent to threaten” matters when threat made witness “unavailable”

It’s the thought that counts—or, for the Michigan Supreme Court, the intent. The court has ordered an MOAA to hear arguments on whether intent matters in an evidence dispute over an unavailable witness. In People v. Lopez, No. 327208, the Court of Appeals found that the prosecutor threatened the defendant’s key witness. The prosecutor in that case told the witness that giving testimony during trial that differed from previous sworn testimony would result in a charge of perjury and life imprisonment. So, a week before trial, the witness invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege, saying he was no longer willing to testify. The prosecutor then filed a motion to declare Hoskins “unavailable” as a witness and to admit his prior testimony pursuant to MRE 804(b)(1).

Dec 2016
December 08, 2016

COA: Deliberately withholding information from police during criminal investigation may result in felony charge

It is one thing to plead the Fifth Amendment and make no statement to police at all, it is quite another to deliberately mislead police by making a statement that omits material information.  In People v Williams, No. 330853, the Court of Appeals held that a person who withholds material information in the course of making a statement to police during a criminal investigation runs the risk of being charged with a felony under MCL 750.479c. This provision makes it a felony to “[k]nowingly and willfully make any statement to [a] peace office [sic] that the person knows is false or misleading regarding a material fact in [a] criminal investigation.”  In this case, Jamari Williams said he and two friends were riding in a car the night of his pregnant girlfriend’s murder and divulged the stops they had made, but the police later found evidence that the car had parked briefly at her apartment—a stop Williams had not disclosed—and Williams later admitted that a fourth person was in the car.  This was sufficient to bind over the defendant for trial on the charge of misleading an officer.

Dec 2016
December 04, 2016

Crime victims generally have no right to intervene in claims brought by the State Treasurer under the State Correctional Facility Reimbursement Act, says the Court of Appeals

In State Treasurer v. Bences, No. 327657, the Court of Appeals held that a crime victim’s restitution order does not create a perfected interest in a claim under the State Correctional Facility Reimbursement Act (“SCFRA”).  Because the restitution order does not take priority over the Treasury’s SCFRA claim, the victim cannot intervene in the suit.

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