Opinions of Interest to Law Enforcement

After Justice Young joined the Michigan Supreme Court in 1999, it became nationally recognized as “an unusually thoughtful, sophisticated and articulate” court. The Wall Street Journal noted that “probably no court in the country has been less inclined to respond favorably to innovative theories allowing criminals to escape responsibility for their actions. . . The current majority views a criminal trial as neither a legal game nor a further opportunity to tie the hands of law enforcement.”

Opinions of Interest to Law Enforcement

Harris-Fields v Syze The Court limited the scope of the “Fireman’s rule” and held that a deceased state trooper’s family could bring a lawsuit against a motorist where the cause of death was unrelated to the reason that the trooper was at that location. This case is important because, contrary to the prior law, it permits police and firemen in certain circumstances to recover for injuries they sustain at the scene of a crime or fire. People v Borchard-Ruhland In an opinion by Justice Young, the Court held that the Implied Consent Statute only applies when a suspected drunk driver is under arrest. Therefore, people who are not under arrest when they agree to provide a blood sample do not need to be notified of the chemical test rights contained in the statute. People v Anstey A violation of a defendant’s chemical test rights does not automatically result in suppression of the police- administered blood alcohol test. Rather, the jury may determine what significance to attach to the violation. This is significant because it does not automatically suppress incriminating evidence on a technicality. People v Burgenmeyer The proper focus for charging the crime of felony-firearm is whether the firearm was in the possession of the defendant at the time the felony is committed, not when the police raid occurs or defendant is arrested. People v Carines In order to overturn a conviction for a trial court’s error in instructing the jury, the defendant must show that the error affected the outcome of the trial. This case is important because it reduces retrials based on “technicalities” and permits new trials only where the error made a real difference. People v Jagotka The Court upheld defendant’s OUIL conviction, holding that the routine destruction of a blood sample thirty days after testing did not violate a statute that requires police to keep evidence “for the purpose of being produced or used as evidence” at trial because the blood sample was not “used as evidence” in the trial. People v Kazmierczak The smell of marijuana detected by a knowledgeable officer may establish probable cause to search an automobile without a warrant. This case is important because, contrary to prior law, it permits the smell of marijuana alone to establish probable cause to search. People v Levine A supplemental hearing requiring the testimony of an undercover officer is unnecessary where the observations of another police officer corroborate the tip given to the undercover officer. This case is important because it protects the identity and safety of undercover officers while still protecting defendant’s constitutional rights. People v Philabaun A suspected drunk driver may be charged with Resisting and Obstructing an Officer when refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test after a search warrant had been obtained. This case provides police officers with an additional tool when a suspect refuses to comply with a search warrant. People v Stevens; People v Vasquez Where police act under a valid search warrant, violation of the “knock and announce” statute does not require the exclusion of evidence found during the search. This case is important because it rejects the expansion of the exclusionary rule and permits the introduction of incriminating evidence. People v Wager The Court upheld defendant’s conviction for OUIL, refusing to impose a “reasonable time” limit on obtaining a blood alcohol test. The Court held that any delay in obtaining a blood alcohol test does not require that the evidence be excluded; rather, any delay merely affects the weight to be given to the evidence by the jury. People v Ward The Court upheld defendant’s second OUIL conviction, holding that defendant should not be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea where he was represented by an attorney and was only motivated to withdraw the guilty plea after being arrested for his third drunk driving offense. People v Washington The Court held that there was no double jeopardy violation where a defendant failed to appear for sentencing in a state case and was later tried and sentenced in Federal court. The Court stated that the defendant should not gain any benefit from his own misconduct by failing to appear for sentencing. People v Sobczak-Obetts Police officers searched defendant’s home pursuant to a search warrant, but failed to give defendant a copy of the affidavit in support of the search warrant, as required by statute. In an opinion written by Justice Young, the Court held that a violation of the statute did not require suppression of the evidence seized during the search. This case rejects the expansion of the exclusionary rule for technical statutory violations made by officers. People v Carpenter In an opinion written by Justice Young, the Court held that “diminished capacity” was not a valid defense because the Legislature omitted “diminished capacity” from its comprehensive law regarding legal insanity. People v Lett After the defendant’s first jury was deadlocked, he had a second trial and was convicted of murder. Justice Young wrote the opinion for the Court and held that defendant’s second trial did not violate double jeopardy. People v Thousand In this case, defendant believed he was soliciting an underage girl for sex over the internet. The “victim” was actually an undercover police officer. Defendant claimed that the lack of an actual child victim meant that it was “impossible” for him to complete the crime of attempted child sexually abusive activity. In an opinion written by Justice Young, the Court rejected the defense of “impossibility.” This case allows law enforcement to use undercover officers to capture sexual predators on the internet. People v Peals A “firearm” within the meaning of the felon in possession of a firearm and felony-firearm offenses does not depend on its operability. Rather, it depends on whether it was designed to propel a dangerous projectile. This case is important because it does not require proof that a dangerous weapon is operable. People v Derror 11-carboxy-THC, which appears in the body when the body breaks down marijuana, is a schedule 1 controlled substance for purposes of the Motor Vehicle Code. It is therefore illegal for a driver to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of 11-carboxy-THC in his or her body. People v Jenkins A police officer does not need a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to request identification. A detention requiring reasonable suspicion of criminal activity only occurs when an officer hinders a person’s ability to leave. This case is important because it gives police officers an additional tool in investigating crime.