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A Better Partnership

February 2014

Feb 2014
February 14, 2014

Psychological injury to victim's family and defendant's history of violence supported upward departure in manslaughter case

In People v. Lockridge, the Court of Appeals affirmed that a defendant’s psychological injury to the victim’s family members, increasing domestic violence against the victim, and probation violation constituted “substantial and compelling reason[s]” to support a one year upward departure from the top-end of the defendant’s recommended guidelines.  The trial court found, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, that Lockridge’s history of increasing domestic violence towards the victim, and the trauma he inflicted on their children by killing their mother in their presence warranted an upward departure.  Finally, the court dismissed Lockridge’s contention that the trial court departed from the guidelines based on his gender or the court’s belief that he was guilty of second-degree murder.  By discussing the jury verdict and sharing her opinions on domestic violence, the trial judge did not demonstrate that she departed from the guidelines for improper reasons.   Accordingly, the court affirmed Lockridge’s 8 year minimum sentence.

Feb 2014
February 12, 2014

Defendant's incriminating statements are protected under MRE 410 where defendant had subjective belief that he was negotiating a better plea deal

Statements made in the course of negotiating a plea deal will be suppressed under MRE 410 if, at the time of making the statement, the defendant had a subjective expectation he or she was negotiating a plea deal and that expectation was reasonable. In State v. Smart, the defendant’s attorney had contacted the Genesee County Prosecutor in order to exchange the defendant’s information on a murder for a plea deal in defendant’s then pending case. The prosecutor agreed and set-up a meeting between defendant and the detective on the murder case. At the meeting, defendant, to the surprise of his attorney, implicated himself in the murder, admitting to having provided the gun that was used in the shooting. After the meeting, the defendant entered into a plea agreement in the case that was pending against him. However, he subsequently changed his mind and asked to schedule another meeting with the detective in order to secure a better plea agreement. Both the detective and defendant’s lawyer informed him that a better plea agreement was unlikely.  However, at the urging of the prosecutor, the detective met with the defendant again. At this second meeting the defendant incriminated himself further. At the defendant’s trial for his involvement in the murder, the trial court held that statements from both meetings were inadmissible because they were made while negotiating a plea agreement.

Feb 2014
February 07, 2014

MSC holds that leasing personal property is “using” it for purposes of Michigan use tax

In NACG Leasing v. Department of Treasury, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a leasing company “used” an aircraft for purposes of the Use Tax Act (“UTA”) when it leased it to a third party in Michigan. The leasing company did not need to take possession of the property in order for the tax to apply.

Feb 2014
February 07, 2014

COA rules that lawyers defending their own firm are entitled to case-evaluation sanctions

In Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap PC v. Boyce Trust 2350, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that attorneys representing their own firm are entitled to case-evaluation sanctions but are not entitled to fees for pursuing those sanctions.

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