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A Better Partnership

January 2016

Jan 2016
January 29, 2016

COA exposes uncertainty on impact of prosecutor knowingly offering perjured testimony

In People v. Schrauben, No. 323170, the Michigan Court of Appeals implied that a defendant is not entitled to a new trial based solely on the prosecutor knowingly presenting perjured testimony. The Defendant was convicted of forgery and fraudulent insurance acts related to business transactions entered into contrary to his business partner’s knowledge. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a new trial based on his business partner’s perjured testimony. In rejecting Defendant’s argument, the Court of Appeals began its analysis by noting that the Defendant did not explain how the prosecutor knowingly presented perjured testimony. Yet, after citing precedent holding that it is “well settled that a conviction obtained through the knowing use of perjured testimony offends a defendant’s due process protections,” the Court indicated that the culpability of the prosecution is irrelevant. Instead, the Court intimated that, while never expressly held by the Michigan Supreme Court or Court of Appeals, it is not the culpability of the prosecutor that necessarily warrants a new trial, but the “misconduct’s effect on the trial . . .  which is the crucial inquiry for due process purposes.” As the Court of Appeals found sufficient evidence of Defendant’s guilt without regard to the perjured testimony, it affirmed the trial court’s denial of his motion for a new trial.

Jan 2016
January 22, 2016

COA criticizes separate panel on the constitutionality of state statute addressing juvenile homicide offenders facing the possibility of life without parole

In the consolidated case of People v. Perkins, No. 323454, People v. Williams, No. 323876, and People v. Hyatt, No. 325741, the Michigan Court of Appeals stated that it would, contrary to a separate Court of Appeals panel decision in People v. Skinner, uphold the constitutionality of MCL 769.25 when a sentencing court orders a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole, which was within the prescribed statutory maximum sentence. The Court of Appeals ultimately adhered to precedent by applying Skinner to remand for resenting, but not before it detailed at length in a unanimous decision the justification for why Skinner was wrongly decided.

Jan 2016
January 21, 2016

Due process concerns may necessitate public funding for expert witnesses in parental termination proceedings, says the COA

In In re Yarbrough Minors, Nos. 326170 and 326171, the Court of Appeals held that in parental termination proceedings, parents may be entitled to funding for an expert witness.  To properly make this determination, the Court noted, a trial court must apply the due process balancing test established in Mathews v Eldridge, 424 US 319; 96 S Ct 893; 47 L Ed 2d 18 (1976).

Jan 2016
January 17, 2016

COA – False academic credentials issued by online university have no place in the State of Michigan

“Life Experience Degrees” issued by an online university based in the Caribbean violate the Michigan Authentic Credentials in Education Act (the “MACEA”), MCL 390.1601 et seq., an statute prohibiting “diploma mills,” according to the Michigan Court of Appeals in City of Fraser v Almeda University, No. 323499.  While the online school violated the Act, all but one of the Plaintiff’s claims ultimately were barred by the statute of limitations.  In addition, the Court held that the trial court correctly exercised its jurisdiction over the Defendant online university and the Defendant was subject to damages under the Act.

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