The Michigan Supreme Court scheduled mini-oral argument to decide whether to grant leave to appeal in People v. Uribe, No. 151899. This criminal appeal concerns the question of whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying the admission of testimony, under MCL 768,27a, that the defendant had molested another young victim, because the court found that the abuse was “dissimilar” to the abuse alleged in this case. Additionally, the Court has ordered the parties to address whether the Court of Appeals properly applied People v. Watkins, which held that MRE 403’s exclusionary power should be used even more sparingly in the context of evidentiary determinations made pursuant to MCL 768.27a, in reversing the trial court’s ruling.
Defendant was charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct for molesting his daughter’s half-sister. The prosecution sought to introduce evidence that the defendant had also molested his daughter under MCL 768.27a, which allows the prosecution to present any evidence that the defendant committed other sex crimes against for the express purpose of demonstrating that the defendant has a propensity to molest children. The trial court held that the evidence was barred under MRE 403 because the sexual abuse against his daughter was “dissimilar” to the sexual abuse in this case.
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. In doing so, the court relied upon the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Watkins, 491 Mich. 450 (2012), which held that MRE 403’s exclusionary power should be used even more sparingly in the context of evidentiary determinations made pursuant to MCL 768.27a. The Court reasoned MCL 768.27a represents a clear public policy to admit specific evidence to protect children from sexual predators.
The Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument to determine whether to grant leave to appeal the Court of Appeals’ decision.