Criminal Law

Issues: Whether the defendant was entitled to a mistrial based on "juror misconduct"; People v. Schaw; U.S. Const. amend. VI; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 20; People v. Miller; People v. Messenger; People v. Budzyn; Presumption that jurors follow their instructions; People v. Graves; Prejudice; People v. Harris; People v. Rohrer; Sufficient evidence of "malice" to support defendant's first-degree felony murder conviction; People v. Gayheart; People v. Werner; People v. Carines; Whether pretrial identification procedures were unduly "suggestive"; People v. Williams; People v. Hornsby; People v. Gray; Motion to suppress based on an "unreasonable search"; U.S. Const. amend. IV; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 11; Florida v. Harris; Riley v. California; "Hearsay"; Right of confrontation; People v. Nunley; Crawford v. Washington; People v. Taylor; Ineffective assistance of counsel; People v. Armstrong; People v. Unger; Failure to offer a futile objection; People v. Thomas

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: People v. Bragg

e-Journal Number: 58937

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Murray, Saad, and Hoekstra

 

The defendant was not entitled to a mistrial on his first-degree felony murder and armed robbery convictions based on alleged juror misconduct because he failed to show that the jury was exposed to a material "extraneous influence." A juror notified the trial court that she remembered seeing a news broadcast three years before where defendant-Bragg had been "picked up" by police. The trial court assumed that this information had been shared with the other jurors but properly rejected the defendant's call for a mistrial because the newscast did not directly address his guilt or innocence, and it was not "substantially related to any material aspect of the case." The juror "indicated that her judgment would not be affected by the newscast, and she was in fact dismissed as an alternate before deliberations." The defendant also claimed that he was entitled to a mistrial because "the jurors were discussing the case, contrary to the trial court's instructions." However, he failed to establish prejudice. Additionally, Bragg maintained that the prosecutor failed to offer sufficient evidence of malice to support his first-degree felony murder conviction. The court disagreed, concluding that a "rational trier of fact could reasonably infer that defendant intentionally set in motion a force likely to cause death or great bodily harm when he participated in an armed robbery with two other armed men, held [the victim, L] at gunpoint while waiting to receive word on whether he should shoot [L], and, after receiving a call, struggled with [L] on a sixth-floor balcony, during which [L] went over the balcony rail and fell to his death." Bragg claimed that the pretrial identification procedures were "impermissibly suggestive" because the witness had previously seen essentially the same photo array when identifying a codefendant. However, the court found that "the photographic array at issue was not so impermissibly suggestive that it led to a substantial likelihood of misidentification." The court also held that the police were not required to have a search warrant to confirm the cell phone number that the defendant had already provided because it was "not an invasion of the type of 'sensitive personal information' requiring a search warrant." Further, because the statements he challenged were not "testimonial," the defendant's confrontation rights were not violated. Thus, defense counsel could not be ineffective for failing to object to them. Defendant also did not show that his counsel's actions were anything other than trial strategy, or that he was prejudiced by them. Affirmed.

 

Full Text Opinion

Issues: Docket No. 317627 (Defendant-Howard) - Motion to suppress his statements made in his second police interview on the grounds that he was not reissued Miranda warnings before that interview; People v. Aldrich; People v. Shipley; Arizona v. Fulminante; Chapman v. California; People v. Grevious; People v. Howard; Sentencing; Scoring of OVs 5 & 10; People v. Hardy; People v. Portellos; Exploitation of a vulnerable victim; People v. Cannon; "Exploit" defined; MCL 777.40(3)(b); Ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to raise objections to the OV scoring; People v. Eisen; Docket No. 318102 (Defendant-Moran) - Motion to suppress police statements; Whether the then 15-year-old Moran's inculpatory statement to police was made voluntarily; People v. Givans

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: People v. Howard

e-Journal Number: 58980

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Donofrio, Fort Hood, and Shapiro

 

In Docket No. 317627, the court held that in light of the evidence, and the "relative insignificance of defendant-Howard's admission during his second interview that he took a purse from the victims' home," any error on the trial court's part in admitting his challenged statements was harmless. The court was "satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt" that the admission of his statements in his second interview did not contribute to his convictions. Also, the trial court did not err by scoring 15 points for OV 5 and 10 points for OV 10. Further, Howard was not entitled to relief on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. In Docket No. 318102, the court held that the trial court's denial of defendant-Moran's motion to suppress his statements was supported by the record and not erroneous. Howard was convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree home invasion. Moran was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder, two counts of first-degree felony murder, and four counts of felony-firearm. Howard claimed that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statements made in his second police interview on the basis that he was not reissued Miranda warnings before that interview. Significantly, this was not a case where "a defendant asserted his right to remain silent during a first interview and police later initiated a second interview without reissuing Miranda warnings." The court held that, even assuming a Miranda violation occurred as to Howard's second interview, he was not entitled to reversal given "the ample evidence produced at trial of his guilt, independent of his statements in the second interview, as well as the relative insignificance of those challenged statements." He did not claim error in the admission of his inculpatory statements made during his first and third interviews, during which he admitted that he "went to the victims' home with Moran, knew Moran was armed with a gun, went upstairs to 'grab the tv' after Moran had shot one of the victims, and pushed the other victim down a flight of stairs. The jury also heard evidence that the victims' identification and bank cards were found in Howard's coat located in his bedroom, that his hat was found at the crime scene, and that one of the residence's doors had been broken down." On appeal, Moran claimed that his police statements were made involuntarily. However, his claim that he was "subjected to repeated and prolonged questioning" was "inconsistent with the record." He was 15 years old at the time, "attended school, and indicated that he was not intoxicated or under the influence of any substance." He appeared to understand all of the officer's questions. "He was not deprived of food, sleep, or medical attention, and there was no contention that he was threatened or abused in any way." In spite of his mother's absence during questioning, under the totality of the circumstances, the court held that his statements "were made freely and voluntarily." Affirmed.

 

Full Text Opinion
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