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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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

Includes a summary of one Michigan Court of Appeals published opinion under Termination of Parental Rights.


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73961
    Case: United States v. Blomquist
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Thapar, Boggs, and Stranch
    Issues:

    Search & seizure; Claim the police exceeded the scope of a search warrant; Consent to a more expansive search; Schneckloth v. Bustamonte; Valid consent; United States v. Elkins; United States v. Alexander; United States v. Bond (Unpub. 6th Cir.); Determining whether consent was voluntary; United States v. Collins; United States v. Jones; Miranda v. Arizona

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the WD-MI.] Holding that the totality of the circumstances showed that defendant-Blomquist’s consent to a more expansive search than called for in the search warrant was voluntary, the court affirmed the denial of his motion to suppress. When police arrived with a warrant to search his father’s property, Blomquist “claimed he was running a legal medical-marijuana operation and offered to show the officers his paperwork.” They asked him if he would show them where the marijuana was being grown, and he led them to a “chicken coop, brought them inside, and showed them five small rooms with scores of marijuana plants. He explained that he moved the marijuana plants from the chicken coop to nearby greenhouses in warmer weather” and he took them there. At no point did he “suggest that the structures were on someone else’s property, nor was there any visible evidence—such as a fence, barrier, or tree line—indicating as much.” He subsequently “pled guilty to distributing and conspiring to distribute marijuana, and a jury convicted him of manufacturing and possessing with intent to distribute between 50 and 100” plants. He argued that the police exceeded the warrant’s scope “when they searched the chicken coop and greenhouses on the property that he leased.” However, the court concluded that he “led, and the officers followed.” They did not force “their way into the outbuildings, told Blomquist they would go in without his permission, or stated that their warrant enabled such a search.” As to whether his consent was “contaminated” by other factors, he was given a Miranda warning before he led them on the tour, and the fact he was cooperative supported “a finding of voluntary consent.” Further, nothing indicated he “was uniquely susceptible to duress or coercion.” He was 46 years old, a trained electrician with a high-school diploma, and “had an extensive criminal history, giving him ample experience with the police and legal system.” While the officers wore tactical gear and placed him in handcuffs initially, “they did not mistreat him, threaten him, or act unprofessionally.” The court concluded that “the district court did not clearly err in holding that the warrant did not coerce” him, and the location of his arrest (on his cousin’s property) did not change the “analysis of the ‘overall context and psychological impact of the entire sequence of events.’”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73927
    Case: United States v. Snoddy
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Moore, Batchelder, and Rogers
    Issues:

    Search & seizure; U.S. Const. amend. IV: Vehicle inventory search: Colorado v. Bertine; Whren v. United States; United States v. Jackson; Whether the inventory search was a pretext for an investigatory search; United States v. Kimes; United States v. Lumpkin; United States v. Alexander; United States v. Hockenberry; Florida v. Wells; United States v. Vite-Espinoza; South Dakota v. Opperman

    Summary:

    The court held that the district court did not err by finding that the inventory search of defendant-Snoddy’s vehicle was not a pretext for an investigatory search, and affirmed its denial of his motion to suppress. He was stopped for speeding, and arrested on outstanding warrants. Under a Tennessee Department of Safety policy, the officer was required to conduct an inventory search of the vehicle before having it towed. The search revealed drugs and a firearm. Snoddy argued that the seized evidence should be suppressed because the officer’s “decision to impound the car was unreasonable” and that the officer’s “decision to inventory the car was a pretext” for a warrantless investigative search. A valid inventory search “may not be undertaken ‘for purposes of investigation,’ and it must be conducted ‘according to standard police procedures.’” It will be held to be unconstitutional if “the ‘police acted in bad faith or for the sole purpose of investigation . . . .’” The court noted that under the Tennessee policy, once an officer decides to impound a vehicle, “the officer must conduct an inventory before towing.” Regardless of the officer’s beliefs and motivations, he “was going to have the car towed no matter what.” Snoddy was the car’s only occupant, and the officer could not leave the vehicle parked on the side of the road in the middle of the night. The officer’s subjective intent was irrelevant where the decision to tow the car could be seen as “objectively justifiable.” The court acknowledged that even though “‘some of the evidence calls into question whether the inventory search was pretextual,’” the district court could have reasonably concluded that the search was not a pretext to investigate.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73938
    Case: Jones v. Foley
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Riordan, O'Brien, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    Custody & parenting time; Determination that a party “had a substance abuse disorder in the absence of expert testimony or an admissible psychological evaluation”; Best interests determination; Berger v. Berger; Pennington v. Pennington; Consideration of circumstances occurring between the motion to change custody & the evidentiary hearing; Witness credibility; Demski v. Petlick; Exhibits that allegedly concerned the time period after a car accident; Nahshal v. Fremont Ins. Co.; Detroit v. Detroit Plaza Ltd. P’ship; Due process; Motion for a continuance in the evidentiary hearing; Al-Maliki v. LaGrant; Bye v. Ferguson; Haller v. Haller; Admission of exhibits; Calling names on the witness list; Blood alcohol level (BAL)

    Summary:

    Holding, among other things, that the trial court’s conclusion defendant-mother had a substance abuse issue was not against the great weight of the evidence, the court affirmed the trial court’s order modifying custody and parenting time. Defendant had primary physical custody of A until she was involved in an accident while she was intoxicated. A was in the car at the time. “After the accident, a blood sample was taken from defendant, which indicated her” BAL was .144. Plaintiff-father filed an emergency motion for physical custody of A, which the trial court granted. “Defendant filed a motion seeking primary physical custody and the trial court ordered that the parties would have week on/week off custody until a friend of the court investigation was completed. The friend of the court recommended that plaintiff be awarded physical custody.” Defendant filed objections. “Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court awarded the parties joint legal custody and awarded plaintiff sole physical custody.” Defendant claimed that the trial court erred when it concluded that “she had a substance abuse disorder in the absence of expert testimony or an admissible psychological evaluation.” She relied on Pennington to argue that “[a] trial court cannot make determinations regarding a party’s mental health – including substance dependency or addiction – absent medical evidence.” But the record established that she had “a history of alcohol abuse.” In 2017, her intoxication while driving led to an accident with A in the vehicle. Despite a high BAL of .144, “she claimed that she did not feel intoxicated. Plaintiff testified that defendant had attempted to drive drunk with [A] in the vehicle on other occasions.” A psychological evaluation diagnosed her with alcohol abuse. “Although there was no medical evidence submitted to the trial court regarding defendant’s alleged substance abuse, there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that defendant had a substance abuse issue.” In Pennington, “the only evidence of the plaintiff’s alleged mental health problems was the testimony of the CPS worker that the ‘plaintiff’s level of concern was irrational.’” In this case, the trial court’s conclusion that “defendant had a substance abuse issue was supported by evidence concerning the accident, and various witness testimony of” her intoxication. Thus, its determination was not against the great weight of the evidence.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73962
    Case: In re Benavides
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, K.F. Kelly, and Tukel
    Issues:

    Order of removal after the preliminary hearing; MCL 712A.13a(9); MCR 3.965(C)(2)-(4); In re McCarrick/Lamoreaux; MCR 3.965(B)(11); Applicability of MCL 712A.13a(10)

    Summary:

    The court held that there was sufficient evidence respondent-father posed “a substantial risk of harm to the children” to support the trial court’s order removing them from his custody after the preliminary hearing. Further, the requirements of MCL 712A.13a(10) did not apply here, and there was no violation of the statute. He “engaged in ‘roughhousing’ with them over” a caseworker’s objection, they sustained suspicious bruising as a result, “and one child required hospital treatment for a visible handprint on his face.” The court concluded that MCL 712A.13a(9)’s requirements were satisfied. A foster care worker (P) testified that respondent slapped one of the children “causing the child’s nose to bleed and leaving a handprint-shaped bruise on his face. Respondent told [P] he was just roughhousing with the child. This was not the first time one of the children had injuries respondent claimed were from roughhousing.” He had a history of domestic violence against their “mother in their presence. He was referred to anger management, domestic violence, and parenting classes” but had not finished them. The trial court considered all five of MCL 712A.13a(9)’s requirements, and the court determined that its findings were not clearly erroneous. As to MCL 712A.13a(10), the court held that “a trial court’s failure to inform a respondent of the information required by this provision does not affect the validity of the trial court’s order.” It also concluded that the provision did not apply to the circumstances of this case. While it was found “that the children needed to be removed from respondent’s care, it was determined that the children did not need to be removed from their home where the safety plan with the paternal uncle was established. Rather, respondent agreed to leave the home to allow” them to stay to avoid a disruption to their environment. “Thus, the precipitating event, the placement of the juvenile outside the home, did not occur, and therefore, the trial court was not required to advise of the preparation of an initial services plan.” In addition, given that he “was already required to participate in services, there was no need to discuss with him an initial services plan, nor was there any need to apprise him of any conditions per MCL 712A.13a(10).” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

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