e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 76416
Opinion Date : 10/28/2021
e-Journal Date : 11/15/2021
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : People v. Craighead
Practice Area(s) : Criminal Law
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Stephens, Sawyer, and Servitto
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Successive motion for relief from judgment; MCR 6.502(G); MCR 6.508(D)(3); Newly discovered evidence; People v Cress; Admissibility; Other acts evidence; MRE 404(b)(1); People v Denson; People v VanderVliet; MRE 608(b); Probability of a different result on retrial; The trial court’s factual finding


The court held that MCR 6.502(G) and 6.508(D)(3) did not procedurally bar defendant’s successive motion for relief from judgment, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that he was entitled to a new trial based on new evidence under the Cress test. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and felony-firearm. He asserted that new evidence about an investigator’s (S) “history of misconduct” undermined S’s trial testimony and revealed “a pattern of eliciting false confessions.” On appeal, the court rejected the prosecution’s argument that his motion was procedurally barred by MCR 6.502(G) because he did not offer newly discovered evidence about S’s misconduct. Defendant relied on “potential impeachment evidence that did not exist” when he filed his initial motion for relief from judgment in 2009, including 2019 affidavits from two individuals (J and M) who attested that S’s “misconduct led to their wrongful convictions” and excerpts from three civil complaints filed by J, M, and J’s codefendant in federal district court in 2018 and 2019. He also relied on depositions taken in those cases, and excerpts from S’s trial testimony in another civil case against her and others. The court found that while information about S’s “misconduct existed before defendant filed his initial motion for relief from judgment, it” did not appear that this information could have been used to effectively impeach S’s testimony at his trial. Further, his successive motion was not barred under MCR 6.508(D)(3) for the same reason it was not procedurally barred by MCR 6.502(G). The court also concluded that the first three prongs of the Cress test were met, and then considered whether the newly discovered other acts evidence was admissible. The prosecution’s argument was limited to whether it was relevant. The court found that there was “a striking similarity between” S’s acts in both M’s case and J’s case to those in defendant’s case. It held that the evidence of S’s acts in both cases “was admissible as evidence of a scheme, plan, or system to obtain false confessions under MRE 404(b). In addition, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it held that the newly discovered evidence proffered by defendant could be” used to show S’s “character for untruthfulness.” The court further concluded that the evidence made a different result on retrial probable. Affirmed.

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