e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 67273
Opinion Date : 02/22/2018
e-Journal Date : 03/09/2018
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : People v. Manwell
Practice Area(s) : Criminal Law
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Jansen, Servitto, and Shapiro
Full Text Opinion
Issues:

Hearsay; MRE 801(c); MRE 802; Prior statements of a witness; MRE 801(d)(1)(B); Ineffective assistance of counsel; People v. Swain; People v. Trakhtenberg; Failure to object to inadmissible hearsay; People v. Shaw; Failure to advance a meritless argument or raise a futile objection; People v. Ericksen; Trial strategy; People v. Benson; People v. Petri; Opinion testimony; MRE 701; Expert testimony; MRE 702; Expert testimony as to sexual abuse victims; People v. Kowalski; People v. Peterson; Reliability; Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharm., Inc.; Unfair prejudice; MRE 403; Credibility; People v. Douglas; People v. Musser; Prosecutorial error; People v. Brown; People v. Callon; People v. Bahoda; People v. Thomas; People v. Noble; People v. Fyda; People v. Ullah; People v. Unger; People v. Dalessandro; People v. Swartz

Summary

Holding that there were no errors requiring reversal, the court affirmed defendant’s convictions and sentences. He was convicted of three counts of CSC I and two counts of CSC II for sexually abusing his daughter (DM). The trial court sentenced him to concurrent prison terms of 15 to 30 years for each CSC I conviction, and 10 to 15 years for each CSC II conviction. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that six witnesses improperly repeated DM’s statements relating the sexual abuse, which constituted inadmissible hearsay, and that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object. It found that the testimony was admissible, and noted that “defense counsel pursued a reasonable strategy of arguing that the allegations were a product of DM falsely accusing defendant of abuse because she was angry with him, but without intending to get the police or other authority figures involved, and then unwittingly finding herself in a position of having to defend her false accusations and being unable to retract the accusations as teachers, CPS, and the police became involved. Against this backdrop, defense counsel’s failure to object was not objectively unreasonable.” It also rejected his claim that two witnesses (R and N) were improperly allowed to testify as experts, despite not being formally qualified to do so. It noted he could not claim error based on testimony that his own counsel elicited from R, and “Kowalski and the general principles of MRE 702 and Daubert do not apply to defendant’s remaining claims of improper testimony.” The court next rejected his contention that their testimony was improperly used to bolster DM’s credibility, noting he could not claim error as it was “defense counsel, not the prosecutor, who elicited [R’s] testimony that she never caught a child lying about the feeling of abuse, and that children tend to underestimate, rather than exaggerate, the frequency of abuse.” It further rejected his argument that he was prejudiced by the admission of his video-recorded interview with N because N’s statements during the interview improperly vouched for DM’s credibility, finding that “the probative value of the unredacted video recording was not outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.” Finally, the court rejected each of his claims of prosecutorial error, and the arguments in his Standard IV brief, as meritless.

Full Text Opinion