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Providing summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit. Over 60,000 cases summarized to date.

 

 

Case Summary


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77828
    Case: People v. Crump
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Jansen, O'Brien, and Hood
    Issues:

    Sentencing; Departure sentence; Proportionality; People v Dixon-Bey

    Summary:

    The court held that neither the trial court’s decision to depart from the sentencing guidelines in sentencing defendant, nor the extent of that departure, was an abuse of discretion. He was convicted of reckless driving causing death and failure to stop at the scene of accident causing death. At his initial sentencing, the trial court departed from the guidelines and sentenced him to concurrent terms of 10 to 15 years for each conviction. In a prior appeal, the court affirmed his convictions but remanded for the trial court “to either issue an order further articulating its reasons for the extent of the departure sentences or to resentence defendant.” At a resentencing hearing, the trial court affirmed the departure sentences. In the present appeal, the court rejected his argument that he was entitled to resentencing. “On the basis of the seven valid factors relied on by the trial court in issuing its sentences, we conclude that the trial court sufficiently ‘articulat[ed] its reasons for the extent of the departure sentence[]’ as directed by this Court, . . . such that it adequately explained how the departure, though significant, was proportionate to the offense and the offender.” The court agreed with the trial court that defendant’s “repeated and failed rehabilitation attempts suggest that he is likely to engage in criminal activity, including potentially more severe criminal activity, again in the future.” In addition, neither the “remand order nor caselaw requires a sentencing court to justify its length of departure against every other hypothetical departure amount. The trial court was simply asked to further articulate its reasoning for the extent of its departure sentences, which it did.” It was also “not required to explain the difference between defendant’s conduct and the conduct of a hypothetical defendant with the same convictions.” Further, nothing about the trial court’s admonition of defendant implied that it was relying on his “refusal to admit guilt as a basis for its departure sentences. Rather, the trial court was referencing defendant’s fleeing the scene of the crash without offering assistance to his friend, the victim, as well as [his] subsequent attempts to diminish the severity of his crimes during the sentencing proceedings.” Finally, the trial court’s statement, “[I]f I could have sentenced you to a term greater than ten to fifteen years I would have,” did not reflect “a violation of the principle of proportionality, and” thus, it could not be said that its “sentences were an abuse of discretion.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77913
    Case: United States v. Musaibli
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Moore, Boggs, and Griffin
    Issues:

    Evidence; Hearsay; Admissibility of evidence documenting a terrorist group’s organizational structure, logistics, & activities; Statements of co-conspirators; FRE 801(d)(2)(E); Whether the government adequately defined the scope of the conspiracy; The court’s jurisdiction under 18 USC § 3731; Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS)

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the ED-MI.] In this interlocutory appeal, the court reversed the district court’s decision to deny the admission of evidence documenting ISIS’s organizational structure, logistics, and activities. It held that the evidence qualified as “statements of co-conspirators” and was admissible under FRE 801(d)(2)(E). ISIS allegedly recruited defendant-Musaibli, who was originally from Dearborn, Michigan. He moved to Yemen, and then to ISIS training camps in Syria and Iraq. He claimed that he was forced to join ISIS. His name, identification number, and activities appeared in ISIS documents. He was eventually taken into custody and returned to the U.S. The government alleged that he was a member of ISIS from 10/15 until his capture in the summer of 2018. A grand jury indicted him on multiple charges, including “providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization” and “conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization[.]” Before trial, the government sought to have several ISIS documents admitted as evidence, including rosters of fighters, budget databases, and spreadsheets, several of which mentioned Musaibli by name. It argued they established a conspiracy to support ISIS through his actions of attending training camps and fighting as a soldier. Musaibli argued that the documents were hearsay and could not be authenticated. The government countered that they were admissible as co-conspirators’ statements, and offered the testimony of an ISIS database administrator. The district court ruled that the documents did not qualify as co-conspirator statements. The case was adjourned pending appeal. The court first rejected Musaibli’s challenge to its jurisdiction, holding that the district court’s ruling was “an order excluding evidence within the scope of” § 3731. It then held that the government met its burden to show “the existence of a conspiracy to provide ISIS with the alleged material support.” It noted that in “determining whether a conspiracy existed under Rule 801(d)(2)(E), ‘[t]he key is coordinated action.’” The ISIS database administrator “provide[d] some of the foundation for the ISIS documents[,]” and statements identifying the conspiracy participants and their roles “‘are made “in furtherance” of a conspiracy.’” Further, the government offered the required corroborating evidence – “Musaibli’s own words supported the existence of a conspiracy to provide ISIS with personnel and services.” Remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Election Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 77838
    Case: Johnsen v. State of MI
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Boonstra, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Election recount; MCL 168.881(3) & (7); MI Admin Code, R 168.907(1), 168.912, 168.916, 168.926, & 168.927; Unjust enrichment; Bellevue Ventures, Inc v Morang-Kelly Inv, Inc; Tkachik v Mandeville; MCR 2.116(C)(8)

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiffs’ complaint alleging unjust enrichment related to an election recount under MCR 2.116(C)(8), the court reversed and remanded. Plaintiff-Johnsen ran for a seat in the state Legislature in the 2020 election. She requested and paid for a recount. The complaint alleged an unjust enrichment claim based on violation of statutory recount procedures. The court noted that the elements of an unjust enrichment claim “‘are (1) receipt of a benefit by the defendant from the plaintiff, and (2) an inequity resulting to plaintiff from defendant’s retention of the benefit.’” As to the first element, plaintiffs alleged “they paid the statutory deposit for a recount to defendants but were not allowed the recount observation to which they were entitled under statute, administrative rule, and court order.” Defendants’ receipt of money would “constitute a ‘benefit’ for the purposes of the first element.” But they noted (and plaintiffs did not dispute) “that the deposit paid to defendants was remitted to the county treasurer in accordance with MCL 168.881(7) because” the recount was unsuccessful. Thus, they no longer have “the deposit. And the county treasurer was not named as a defendant.” While the court acknowledged “that plaintiffs might have been better served to name the county treasurer as” another defendant, in ruling on a (C)(8) motion, only the pleadings are considered. The complaint “did not allege, or even closely imply, that defendants remitted the deposit to the county treasurer. Thus, when considering the pleadings alone, it must be reasonably inferred that defendants retained the deposit.” As to the second element, at “a minimum, plaintiffs’ allegation that ‘[p]oll workers hung semi-opaque shower curtains around their tables which obstructed the candidate and her watchers and talliers,’ if true, would seemingly constitute a violation of MCL 168.874(2), as well as Rules 168.912 and 168.916, each of which expressly allow representatives to ‘observe[]’ the recount process.” The court found that plaintiffs’ allegations were “sufficiently serious to suggest that, if they are true, it would be inequitable for defendants to retain the deposit. Visually obstructing a ballot recount almost defeats the purpose of the recount itself, as it cannot be publicly validated that election officials conducted an accurate counting.” The court held that plaintiffs pled both elements.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77836
    Case: Ploski v. Wisz
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen, O’Brien, and Hood
    Issues:

    Motion to change custody & modify parenting time; Proper cause or a change of circumstances (COC); Deciding the motion without an evidentiary hearing

    Summary:

    Finding no error requiring reversal, the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying defendant-father’s motion to change custody and modify parenting time. The case stemmed from his motion seeking a change of custody, modification of parenting time, and other relief. Defendant argued that he presented sufficient evidence of proper cause or a COC. “In light of the evidence that the child’s age-inappropriate behaviors were likely primarily caused by defendant’s behaviors, the trial court did not err by concluding that defendant failed to establish proper cause or a” COC sufficient to reconsider custody. Defendant also claimed the trial court abused its discretion by declining to hold an evidentiary hearing. The court concluded that the “trial court was able to reach an informed decision on the existing record, and its refusal to hold an evidentiary hearing was not ‘palpably and grossly violative of fact and logic . . . .’”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77824
    Case: City of Bad Axe v. Pamar Enters., Inc.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Shapiro, Rick, and Garrett
    Issues:

    Motion to enter an amended judgment including interest under MCL 600.6013(8)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by granting plaintiffs’ request for an amended judgment in the amount of $164,965.62 because that amount was based on incorrectly calculated interest. Thus, it reversed and remanded for proper calculation of interest. Defendants argued that the starting date for interest to accrue was the 9/18/18 judgment date. They did “not dispute that under MCL 600.6013(8) interest is calculated from the date the complaint is filed.” Rather, they argued that the original judgment entered in 9/18 “already incorporated prejudgment interest dating back to the filing of the complaint, and that plaintiffs are attempting to ‘double dip’ by seeking to add that same amount to the amended judgment.” The record, however, did not support defendants’ claim that the original judgment included prejudgment interest. In the trial court’s 7/31/18 “order determining legal fees, the court awarded plaintiffs $115,052.00 in attorney fees and $9,725.94 in costs. The combined total of the fees and costs, $124,777.94, was the judgment amount contained in” the 9/18 order. And there was “no mention of interest in either the order determining fees or the order of judgment.” Thus, there was no basis in the record to hold that “plaintiffs have already been awarded prejudgment interest.” But the parties agreed that the trial court incorrectly calculated judgment interest.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Election Law

    e-Journal #: 77838
    Case: Johnsen v. State of MI
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Boonstra, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Election recount; MCL 168.881(3) & (7); MI Admin Code, R 168.907(1), 168.912, 168.916, 168.926, & 168.927; Unjust enrichment; Bellevue Ventures, Inc v Morang-Kelly Inv, Inc; Tkachik v Mandeville; MCR 2.116(C)(8)

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiffs’ complaint alleging unjust enrichment related to an election recount under MCR 2.116(C)(8), the court reversed and remanded. Plaintiff-Johnsen ran for a seat in the state Legislature in the 2020 election. She requested and paid for a recount. The complaint alleged an unjust enrichment claim based on violation of statutory recount procedures. The court noted that the elements of an unjust enrichment claim “‘are (1) receipt of a benefit by the defendant from the plaintiff, and (2) an inequity resulting to plaintiff from defendant’s retention of the benefit.’” As to the first element, plaintiffs alleged “they paid the statutory deposit for a recount to defendants but were not allowed the recount observation to which they were entitled under statute, administrative rule, and court order.” Defendants’ receipt of money would “constitute a ‘benefit’ for the purposes of the first element.” But they noted (and plaintiffs did not dispute) “that the deposit paid to defendants was remitted to the county treasurer in accordance with MCL 168.881(7) because” the recount was unsuccessful. Thus, they no longer have “the deposit. And the county treasurer was not named as a defendant.” While the court acknowledged “that plaintiffs might have been better served to name the county treasurer as” another defendant, in ruling on a (C)(8) motion, only the pleadings are considered. The complaint “did not allege, or even closely imply, that defendants remitted the deposit to the county treasurer. Thus, when considering the pleadings alone, it must be reasonably inferred that defendants retained the deposit.” As to the second element, at “a minimum, plaintiffs’ allegation that ‘[p]oll workers hung semi-opaque shower curtains around their tables which obstructed the candidate and her watchers and talliers,’ if true, would seemingly constitute a violation of MCL 168.874(2), as well as Rules 168.912 and 168.916, each of which expressly allow representatives to ‘observe[]’ the recount process.” The court found that plaintiffs’ allegations were “sufficiently serious to suggest that, if they are true, it would be inequitable for defendants to retain the deposit. Visually obstructing a ballot recount almost defeats the purpose of the recount itself, as it cannot be publicly validated that election officials conducted an accurate counting.” The court held that plaintiffs pled both elements.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Tax (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77834
    Case: Karling v. St. Clair Twp.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Gleicher, Gadola, and Yates
    Issues:

    Appeal of the denial of an application for a poverty tax exemption on real property; The 35-day deadline to file a petition & invoke the Tax Tribunal’s (TT) jurisdiction under MCL 205.735a

    Summary:

    The court held that the TT did not err by denying petitioner’s appeal as untimely. Petitioner applied for a poverty tax exemption for her home located in respondent-township. Respondent’s review board denied her application, “citing income discrepancies in the application.” She sent a letter to the TT, which responded that she was required to file a petition to invoke its jurisdiction. She then filed the petition, but the TT rejected it, concluding it was time-barred. On appeal, the court rejected her argument that the TT erred by denying her appeal as untimely. She asked the court to consider her “claim timely under principles of equity because the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the mail.” She also claimed the board and its representative engaged in fraudulent behavior when the board denied her application for the poverty tax exemption. The court noted the board denied her application for the exemption on 12/16/20. While she sent a letter to the TT on 1/11/21, disputing the denial, it “was not in the form of a petition. [She] did not file a petition disputing respondent’s decision until” 2/2/21. The TT “correctly concluded it lacked jurisdiction to consider [her] appeal because [the] petition was filed beyond the 35-day deadline.” Because it found the TT lacked jurisdiction to consider petitioner’s appeal, it declined to consider her other arguments. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77833
    Case: In re Charboneau
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Jansen, O'Brien, and Hood
    Issues:

    Child’s best interests

    Summary:

    The court affirmed the trial court’s order finding that termination of respondent-father’s parental rights was in the best interests of the child, LTC, under MCL 712A.19b(5). The court held that “respondent’s sexual abuse of the stepdaughter and two of her friends, and his abuse of LTC in making him undress in front of the other children and making him sleep outside the tent during camping trips so he could continue to sexually abuse the stepdaughter, coupled with his failure to acknowledge or accept any responsibility for his actions and the fact that LTC did not want to have any further contact with respondent, provided more than a preponderance of the evidence to support the trial court’s finding that termination of respondent’s parental rights was in LTC’s best interests.”

    Full Text Opinion

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