Cases for Argument – November, 2017

The following criminal cases are scheduled for argument before the Michigan Supreme Court at its November session.

– NOVEMBER 7, 2017

People v Andrew Maurice Randolph, Docket No. 153309

Issue: The Court ordered supplemental argument on (1) whether a defendant’s failure to demonstrate plain error precludes a finding of ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and, in particular, (2) whether the prejudice standard under the third prong of plain error, People v Carines, 460 Mich 750, 763-764 (1999) (“affecting substantial rights”), is the same as the Strickland prejudice standard, Strickland v Washington, 466 US 668, 694 (1984) (“reasonable probability” of a different outcome).

Summary: Defendant fired several gunshots into a home; one shot struck and killed the mother of defendant’s girlfriend. Defendant was taken into custody but then released because police did not have sufficient evidence for an arrest. Subsequently, a federal ATF agent obtained an arrest warrant against defendant for violating federal possession of ammunition law, and the murder weapon was discovered in the house where defendant was arrested. A jury convicted defendant on charges including second-degree murder and felon in possession. Defendant appealed arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the admission of various pieces of evidence including evidence regarding the weapons seized during the ATF search. The Court of Appeals affirmed (in an unpublished opinion), ruling that defendant had not shown that he was prejudiced by any deficient performance of counsel. Argument: November 7, 2017 (morning).

People v Daniel Horacek, Docket No. 152567

Issue: The Court granted argument on (1) whether exigent circumstances authorized the officers’ warrantless entry into the defendant’s motel room, and (2) if a constitutional violation did occur, whether the defendant is entitled to withdraw his plea.

Summary: Defendant entered a store shortly before closing with his hand in his pocket and demanded money from the store clerk. Defendant was later arrested in his motel that police forcibly entered without a warrant. Defendant moved for suppression of his post-arrest statement because the warrantless arrest violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court denied defendant’s motion ruling that there were exigent circumstances including that defendant was believed to be armed, that there was a likelihood that defendant would escape, and that destruction of evidence was likely. After the trial court denied his motion, defendant pleaded no contest to unarmed robbery. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, and the Court of Appeals ultimately (in an unpublished opinion) affirmed the trial court’s ruling that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless arrest. Argument: November 7, 2017 (morning).

People v Edward Pinkney, Docket No. 154374

Issues: The Court granted argument on (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence under MRE 404(b) that related to the defendant’s political and community activities other than the mayoral recall effort for the purpose of showing the defendant’s motive to commit the instant crimes, and (2) whether the Court of Appeals erred in determining that MCL 168.937 creates the substantive offense of election forgery and is not merely a penalty provision for the specific forgery offenses set forth in other provisions of the Michigan election law.

Summary: Defendant was charged with five counts of election forgery, MCL 168.937, for altering the signature dates on petitions seeking recall of the mayor of Benton Harbor. At trial, evidence of defendant’s efforts in another recall campaign and comments defendant had made about the mayor of Benton Harbor was admitted. Defendant was convicted by jury and sentenced to 30 to 120 months in prison. The Court of Appeals, 316 Mich App 450 (2016), affirmed, ruling that defendant’s “other acts” were admissible under MRE 404(b) and that MCL 168.937 does create a substantive offense of election forgery. Argument: November 7, 2017 (afternoon).

The Court’s summaries and the briefs filed in the cases can be found at: