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  • Search the Summaries

    Easily search all e-Journal summaries by court, year, practice area, case name, judge, or e-Journal number.

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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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:

  • Constitutional Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63457
    Case: Barry v. Lyon
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Daughtrey, Cole, and Donald
    Issues:

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP Act) (7 USC §§ 2011–2036c); Michigan’s implementation of the SNAP Act’s “fleeing felon” provision; § 2015(k)(1)(A); 7 CFR § 273.11(n); Michigan’s “criminal-justice disqualification” for fleeing felons; MCL 400.10b & c; Standing; Article III, § 2; Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife; Spencer v. Kemna; Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.; Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc.; Honig v. Doe; Whether the plaintiffs had a private right to sue under the Act; Blessing v. Freestone; Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe; John B. v. Goetz; Right to food assistance; §§ 2014(a), (b), & 2020(e)(10); Westside Mothers v. Olszewski; Whether the existence of an outstanding felony warrant is sufficient to show that a person is fleeing & disqualified from receiving benefits; Barry v. Corrigan (ED MI); Fowlkes v. Adamec (2nd Cir.); Notice & due process; Garrett v. Puett; Rosen v. Goetz; Injunctive relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a)(1)-(2) & 65(d)(1); Class certification; Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) & (b)(2)

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the ED-MI.] In this class action, the court affirmed the district court’s ruling that Michigan’s fugitive-felon law and policy, which automatically disqualifies anyone with an outstanding felony warrant from receiving food assistance under the federal SNAP Act, violates the Act and that the form of the disqualification notice Michigan provided also violated the Act and was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs argued that Michigan’s fugitive-felon policy violated the Act, and that the state’s notification procedure deprived the recipients of due process. The court held that they had Article III standing to sue, and that they had a private right to sue under the Act. It also held that MCL 400.10 violates 7 USC “§§ 2014(b) and 2020(e)(5) by adding requirements for disqualification not found in § 2015(k)”—Michigan’s statute only requires the “existence of an outstanding felony warrant,” and does not require the state “to determine whether the putative felon is being ‘actively sought’ for prosecution before his or her name is deleted automatically from the list of eligible recipients.” The court approved the district court’s analogizing the SNAP provisions with the fleeing provision in the Social Security Act and held that an outstanding arrest warrant does not equate with fleeing to avoid prosecution. The person “must be (1) actively ‘fleeing’ (2) to avoid prosecution” for a felony and “the authorities must be (3) ‘actively seeking’” the individual for prosecution. Thus, the state may not automatically disqualify the plaintiffs from receiving SNAP benefits based only on the existence of an outstanding felony warrant. The district court also correctly held that Michigan’s letters to rejected persons did not qualify as proper notice where the letter failed “to inform recipients what they must do to lift the disqualification.” The court upheld the district court’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction, and its order certifying a class and subclass. The district court did not err by striking several of the defendants’ exhibits, or by striking an affidavit as hearsay. The court affirmed and remanded for the district court to “enforce the permanent injunction and to consider any relevant action by the state in light of the Secretary’s Clarification of Eligibility of Fleeing Felons Final Rule,” § 273.11(n), which took effect on 11/9/15.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (3)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63437
    Case: People v. Dotson
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Owens, Sawyer, and Shapiro
    Issues:

    Whether the trial court imposed a departure sentence for the defendant’s larceny in a building conviction without stating substantial & compelling reasons; People v. Mack; People v. Lopez; People v. Schrauben; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Failure to communicate a plea offer before trial; People v. Lockett; Lafler v. Cooper; People v. Trakhtenberg; People v. Armstrong; People v. Carbin; Burt v. Titlow; People v. Seals; Whether remand for a Ginther hearing was warranted; People v. McMillan; Prior record variable (PRV); Offense variable (OV)

    Summary:

    The court held that the defendant’s sentence was not a departure, and the trial court was not required to state substantial and compelling reasons for the sentence it imposed. Also, he was not denied the effective assistance of counsel. Finally, remand for a Ginther hearing was not warranted because defendant failed to show a factual dispute or “point to any area in which further elucidation of the facts might advance his position.” Because his sentence was not a departure and he did not challenge the scoring of the uttering and publishing guidelines, the court affirmed his sentence for larceny in a building. Defendant argued that the trial court imposed a departure sentence for the larceny in a building conviction without stating substantial and compelling reasons. He based his entire argument on the premise that the trial court failed to independently calculate the guidelines for his conviction. He contended that had the trial court applied the same OV and PRV scores it calculated for his uttering and publishing conviction to his larceny in a building conviction, the trial court would have realized it was imposing a departure sentence. However, his sentence was not a departure. “Under the sentencing guidelines, when imposing concurrent sentences, the trial court only needs to determine the recommended minimum sentence range for the crime of the highest crime class. A trial court is ‘not required to independently score the guidelines for and sentence the defendant on each of his concurrent convictions if the court properly scored and sentenced the defendant on the conviction with the highest crime classification.’” Here, the guidelines were calculated at 12 to 48 months for defendant’s uttering and publishing conviction, a Class E offense. He did not challenge the scoring of the guidelines for uttering and publishing or the calculated OV and PRV scores. His entire argument was based on his independent calculation of the sentencing guidelines for larceny in a building, which is a Class G offense. Because the trial court correctly scored the guidelines range for the highest-class offense and defendant did not challenge that scoring, the trial court was not required to independently score the sentencing guidelines range for larceny in a building.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63395
    Case: People v. Jackson
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Beckering, Cavanagh, and Gadola
    Issues:

    Other acts evidence; MRE 404(b)(1); People v. Crawford; People v. VanderVliet; People v. Martzke; People v. Knox; Relevance & the danger of unfair prejudice; MRE 403; People v. Sabin (After Remand); People v. Pickens; Motive; People v. Watson; Waiver; People v. Chapo; Hearsay; The unavailable declarant exception; MRE 804(b)(1); Distinguishing People v. Vera; Similar motive to develop the testimony; People v. Farquharson; Right of confrontation; U.S. Const. amend. VI; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 20; People v. Yost; Crawford v. Washington; United States v. Owens; People v. Adamski; Principle that it is improper to ask a witness to comment on the credibility of other witnesses; People v. Buckey

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the other acts testimony was relevant for proper, noncharacter purposes at trial, or in ruling that the victim’s preliminary exam testimony was admissible under MRE 804(b)(1). The defendant was convicted of three counts of CSC II arising out of his unlawful sexual contact with a female inmate when he was a sheriff’s deputy. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the trial court erred in admitting the other acts testimony of three witnesses, finding the testimony “was relevant to show a common plan or scheme by defendant to groom female inmates for sexual relationships (even though not all relationships became sexual), and to discredit the defense claim that the charges were fabricated and motivated by the victim’s desire to financially benefit from the charges. The evidence of defendant’s sexual interest in female inmates was also relevant to show defendant’s intent to have sexual contact with the victim.” He had stated in an interview that he disliked working with female inmates, and the other acts testimony was relevant to impeach this claim. In addition, “the probative value of the evidence was not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.” Further, he was not prejudiced by the trial court’s limiting instruction, which “allowed the jury to consider the evidence to demonstrate his ‘sexual interest in females,’” as opposed to “inmates.” The court also rejected his claim that the victim’s preliminary exam testimony was not admissible because he did not have an opportunity and similar motive to develop the testimony at the preliminary exam. It noted that defense counsel had a similar motive to develop the victim’s testimony relating to defendant’s commission of the crimes at both the preliminary exam and at trial. “In both instances, counsel had a motive to discredit the victim’s account of the events and to explore possible reasons why she would fabricate the allegations.” The testimony also did not violate his right of confrontation because he “had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the victim” at the preliminary exam. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63446
    Case: People v. VanBuren
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Owens, Sawyer, and Shapiro
    Issues:

    Sufficiency of the evidence to support the defendant’s convictions; Due process; People v. Hampton; People v. Unger; People v. Allen; Torture; Intent; MCL 750.85(1); Cruel defined; MCL 750.85(2)(a); People v. McRunels; Assault with intent to rob while unarmed (AWIR); People v. Chandler; Sentencing; Cruel & unusual punishment; U.S. Const. amend. VIII; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 16; People v. Benton; Proportionality; People v. Brown; People v. Steanhouse; People v. Kennebrew; People v. Williams (After Remand); People v. Bullock; People v. Powell; People v. Lee; People v. Daniel

    Summary:

    The court held that as to the defendant’s torture conviction, the evidence was sufficient to establish intent to cause cruel or extreme physical or mental pain and suffering. Also, because the prosecution introduced sufficient evidence to justify a trier of fact in reasonably concluding that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of torture, his conviction for that offense did not deny him due process of law. As to his AWIR conviction, it held that the evidence was sufficient to establish an intent to rob and steal and thus, that there was no due process violation. Finally, it held that defendant failed to overcome the presumption of proportionality and thus, also concluded that his proportionate sentence was not unreasonable and did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. His convictions and sentences were affirmed. There was evidence giving rise to an inference that his intent was to inflict cruel or extreme physical or mental pain and suffering on the victim. As the trial court noted in denying his motion for a directed verdict, “the victim suffered a severe facial injury during the first attack in the kitchen, but defendant continued the assault at the top of the stairs, in the basement, in the bathroom, and outside the house.” These multiple and repeated assaults evidenced an intent to cause him extreme pain. The court also noted he testified that “defendant attempted to tie his hands behind his back during the assault in the basement, an action which would likely cause a person to have severe mental pain and suffering, rightfully fearing for one’s life.” As to AWIR, there was ample evidence giving rise to an inference that his intent was to rob and steal. As the trial court noted in denying his motion for a directed verdict, the victim testified that hands were going through his pockets as he was being assaulted on the couch. His wallet and car keys were stolen from him during the assault on the couch and the car was driven away shortly after. Also, there was evidence that his accomplice invited the victim into the house under the guise of receiving money for gas merely as a ruse for her and defendant to rob him.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63401
    Case: Wallace v. Wallace
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Murphy, Stephens, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Divorce; Spousal support & property division; Jurisdiction; The Full Faith & Credit Clause; U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1; Reassignment to another judge; People v. Evans; United States v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Inc. (9th Cir.); Bayati v. Bayati; Preservation of a claim; MCR 2.003(D); Welch v. District Court

    Summary:

    The court vacated the trial court’s ruling and remanded for full resolution of the plaintiff-ex-wife’s complaint on all issues. The trial court found it had jurisdiction to adjudicate the parties’ child custody, parenting time, and child support matters. However, it deferred to a district court in North Carolina, where the defendant-ex-husband had filed a divorce action three weeks prior to plaintiff’s Michigan filing. The trial court granted partial summary disposition for defendant as to spousal support and property division. Plaintiff appealed, but while the appeal was pending, the North Carolina court granted her motion to dismiss, holding it lacked personal jurisdiction over her. Given the dismissal, defendant sought to stipulate to reversal of the trial court’s order granting partial summary disposition, conceding that plaintiff’s action on all issues should be heard by the trial court. Plaintiff rejected the stipulation and sought a ruling that the trial court erred. Instead, the court vacated the trial court’s ruling “on the simple premise that the factual predicate of the court’s ruling, i.e., that another action is pending between the same parties relative to the same claims, no longer holds true.” The court also rejected plaintiff’s claim that reassignment to another judge was required, finding it was really a claim for disqualification on the basis of bias on the part of the trial judge, and noting she did not preserve such a claim. It opined that the trial judge would not “have substantial difficulty in putting out of her mind her summary disposition ruling” with it now vacated. “Indeed, we suspect that the trial judge will be in full agreement with our holding, given the dismissal of the North Carolina proceedings, and will be happy to move forward. Under these circumstances, there is no need to order reassignment to preserve the appearance of justice, and any reassignment would entail waste and duplication. Finally, even on substantive examination of the events below cited by plaintiff in support of her argument for reassignment, they are either mischaracterized by plaintiff and/or simply do not merit reassignment.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63452
    Case: In re Trumble
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Owens, Sawyer, and Shapiro
    Issues:

    Termination under §§ 19b(3)(a)(ii), (c)(i), (g), & (j); Whether the trial court’s failure to sua sponte appoint counsel to represent the respondent-mother deprived her of due process; In re Sanders; Santosky v. Kramer; Lassiter v. Department of Soc. Servs.; MCR 3.915(B)(1); In re Hall; Whether the trial court should have appointed counsel in light of the expressions of concern at various times as to whether she understood the seriousness of the proceedings; In re Hicks/Brown Minors

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court’s failure to appoint counsel to represent the respondent-mother did not deprive her of due process, the court affirmed termination of her parental rights to the child. Also, having expressly and knowingly declined the offer of appointed counsel at the preliminary hearing and having never shown that she suffered from an obvious cognitive impairment, she failed to show that the trial court denied her due process by declining to sua sponte appoint counsel. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s order terminating her parental rights to the child. Respondent’s sole argument on appeal was that the trial court erred when it did not sua sponte appoint counsel to represent her, despite her on-the-record waiver of counsel at the preliminary hearing, her failure to attend any subsequent hearings even though she was served with notice of each hearing, and her failure to respond to repeated direct contacts from the DHHS staff informing her of the status of the case and the importance of appearing at the proceedings. She asserted that the trial court’s failure to appoint counsel deprived her of due process. However, the trial court’s failure to sua sponte appoint counsel did not deprive her of due process. The court has interpreted MCR 3.915(B)(1) to require “affirmative action on the part of the respondent to trigger the appointment and continuation of appointed counsel in all hearings which may affect the respondent’s parental rights.” Thus, on the record, because invocation of the right to appointed counsel requires “affirmative action on the part of a respondent,” the trial court did not err in declining sua sponte to appoint counsel for her.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Wills & Trusts (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 63365
    Case: Estate of Morris v. Morris
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murphy, Stephens, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Action alleging conversion, fraud, & other torts related to a bank account; The state of mind hearsay exception; MRE 803(3); In re Cullmann Estate; Principle that a party cannot assign error on appeal to something his own counsel deemed proper at trial; People v. Green; Involuntary dismissal; MCR 2.504(B); Williamstown Twp. v. Hudson; Conversion; Aroma Wines & Equip., Inc. v. Columbian Distrib. Servs., Inc.; Statutory conversion; MCL 600.2919a(1)(a); Conversion of bank account funds; Check Reporting Servs, Inc. v. Michigan Nat’l Bank-Lansing; Head v. Phillips Camper Sales & Rental, Inc.; Citizens Ins. Co. v. DelCamp Truck Ctr., Inc.; Department of Treasury v. Comerica Bank; The Joint Account Act (MCL 487.711 et seq.); MCL 487.715 & 716; Joint ownership; MCL 487.703; Jacques v. Jacques; Traverse City State Bank v. Schuler; Leib v. Genesee Merchs. Bank & Trust Co.; Mineau v. Boisclair; Constructive trust; Kammer Asphalt Paving Co., Inc. v. East China Twp. Schs.; Presumption of undue influence; In re Karmey Estate; In re Mikeska Estate; In re Leone Estate; Personal representative (PR)

    Summary:

    The court held that there was no presumption of joint ownership with rights of survivorship in this case and the trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion for involuntary dismissal, dismissing the plaintiff-estate’s claim for conversion. However, it did not err by rejecting the plaintiff’s claims of undue influence. The PR and defendant were both children of the decedent. Plaintiff sued defendant alleging conversion, fraud, and related torts arising from defendant’s use of funds in the decedent’s bank account. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for involuntary dismissal, finding plaintiff did not meet its burden of proof. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the trial court improperly considered defendant’s testimony as to the decedent’s statements made after her name was added to the accounts, noting that because it “affirmatively elicited this testimony,” plaintiff could not now argue on appeal that it constituted reversible error. However, it agreed that the trial court erred in granting defendant’s motion for involuntary dismissal on the basis of its determination that plaintiff failed to rebut the presumption that she was a joint owner of the accounts, and entitled to use of the funds. “The [trial] court granted involuntary dismissal because it believed that plaintiff did not meet its burden of proof to rebut the presumption of a joint account. The trial court’s focus on rebuttal of the presumption was erroneous. The proper inquiry was whether plaintiff proved that the decedent did not intend for ownership of the funds to vest in defendant. Plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to support an inference that he did not.” Thus, it ordered the trial court on remand to reconsider the issue “without applying a presumption of joint ownership.” Further, it found that if “the trial court finds on remand that defendant wrongfully used the funds in the joint bank accounts, it may impose a constructive trust as appropriate to prevent unjust enrichment.” Finally, the court found that “given the absence of evidence that the decedent’s decisions were the result of defendant’s undue influence,” the trial court did not err in rejecting the claim that defendant “exercised undue influence over the decedent in order to gain access to his accounts.” Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

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