Cases for Argument – January 2021

Mini-Oral Argument on Application Granted

People v Jeremiah James Leffew, MSC No. 161805 (COA No. 344240), MOAA granted December 23, 2020.

Affirmative Defense of Defense of Others

The Court directed the parties to address whether the common law affirmative defense of defense of others may be raised as a defense to the felony and misdemeanor charges against them, see People v Dupree, 486 Mich 693 (2010); People v Triplett, 499 Mich 52 (2016), and whether trial defense counsels’ failure to request such an instruction deprived the defendants of the effective assistance of counsel. The case is consolidated with People v Micheline Nicole Leffew, MSC No. 161797 (COA No. 343318), MOAA granted December 23, 2020.

People v Stephen Michael Bieszka, MSC No. 161838 (COA No. 349349), MOAA granted December 28, 2020.

Consent to Sexual Acts by 14-year-old

The Court directed the parties to address: (1) whether the trial court clearly erred by determining that the defendant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the victim consented to the sexual acts at issue; and (2) whether the 14-year-old victim was legally capable of consenting to the sexual acts in any event. See MCL 750.520d(1)(a) (“A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist . . . (a) That other person is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age.”); People v Starks, 473 Mich 227, 230, 235 (2005) (“[C]onsent must be given by one who is legally capable of giving consent to the act,” and “[b]ecause a thirteen-year-old child cannot consent to sexual penetration, consent by such a victim is not a defense to the crime of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct involving sexual penetration.”); cf. MCL 28.722(w)(iv) (“This subparagraph does not apply if the court determines that the victim consented to the conduct constituting the violation, that the victim was at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years of age at the time of the offense, and that the individual is not more than 4 years older than the victim.”).

People v Deandre Terrell Austin, MSC No. 161092 (COA No. 344703), MOAA granted December 28, 2020.

Jury Instruction on Reasonable Doubt

The Court directed the parties to address: (1) whether the defendant was denied a fair trial by virtue of the trial judge’s instructions to the jury regarding reasonable doubt; (2) whether trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to object to the trial judge’s instructions on reasonable doubt; and (3) whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the defendant’s conviction of felony-murder.

by John Zevalking
Associate Editor