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Opinion Date: 03/10/2011
e-Journal Date: 04/05/2011
Full Text Opinion

Practice Area(s):   Criminal Law

Issues: Whether the trial court in the defendant's bench trial applied the proper burden of proof; Plain error review; People v. Carines; Presumption that a trial judge knows the law; People v. Garfield; Whether the defendant's convictions for felon in possession and felony-firearm violated his double jeopardy rights; People v. Calloway; "Legislative inadvertence"; In re Schnell; Binding effect of Calloway; Ferguson v. Gonyaw; Sentencing; Whether the trial court properly ordered defendant's CCW sentence to run consecutively to his felony-firearm sentence; People v. Brown
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: People v. Manners
e-Journal Number: 48321
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Murphy, Stephens, and M.J. Kelly

Concluding that the trial court's statements in the defendant's bench trial, considered as a whole, showed that the trial court had a solid basis for finding that the prosecution met its proper burden of proof, the court held that there was no plain error warranting reversal of defendant's convictions. However, the court remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to amend the judgment of sentence to indicate that defendant's CCW sentence runs concurrently with both of his other sentences. He was convicted of felon in possession, second offense, CCW, and felony-firearm, second offense. The case arose from an early morning police raid at a nightclub. The prosecution produced evidence that during the raid, officers saw defendant take a small handgun from his waistband, drop it, and then fall on it when the officers ordered everyone to the floor. He argued on appeal, inter alia, that the trial court failed to properly apply the applicable evidentiary standard, burden of proof, and the presumption of innocence. The court concluded that the trial court's remarks after the close of proofs, "considered in isolation, could be interpreted to indicate that the trial court was searching through the evidence for some affirmative basis for finding a reasonable doubt to rebut some improper presumption of guilt. However, those remarks can more reasonably be interpreted as indicating that the court was persuaded by the testimony that defendant was guilty of the gun possession, but determined to consider carefully defense counsel's arguments to the contrary." The court noted that a trial judge is presumed to know the law, and the judge in this case showed that knowledge by not only referring to the prosecution's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but by also giving a detailed summary of the evidence. The trial court clearly credited the truthfulness of two police witnesses, while noting some minor discrepancies. The prosecution conceded that the trial court erred in ordering defendant's CCW sentence to run consecutively to his felony-firearm sentence. The court instructed the trial court to ensure that a copy of the corrected judgment of sentence is delivered to the DOC.

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