District Court Update
The Michigan Court of Appeals has recently upheld the constitutionality of the amendment to the drunk driving law which allowed two or more prior convictions to result in a felony conviction, regardless of the number of years which have elapsed since any prior conviction. Prior to Public Act 564 of 2006 (MCL 257.625(9)(c)), prior convictions could only be used if they had been within the previous ten years.
In People v. Perkins, COA#281957, released 8/19/2008, in a per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals upheld the amendment which was effective January 3, 2007 –also known as “Heidi’s law” -- as not violating the prohibition against ex post facto laws. They stated that: “The amendment did not attach legal consequences to the defendant’s prior convictions, but instead attached consequences to their conduct occurring after the effective date of the act”.
In other action (it is football season), the Michigan Supreme Court held in People v. Ream, 481 Mich 223, (2008), that convicting and sentencing a defendant for both first degree felony murder and the predicate felony does not violate the “multiple punishments” strand of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States and Michigan Constitutions. It may be overkill, since the sentence was for life without parole, but will certainly have implications for other cases.
The Supreme Court ruled that since”…each of the offenses … has an element that the other does not, they are not the ‘same offense’”, overruling its own decision in People v Wilder, 411 Mich 342(1981). The Opinion makes for an interesting reading of the differing opinions, and the barbs that are thrown in the footnotes and opinions. Whether a justice has fallen “down a memory hole” or engaged in an “Orweillian tactic”, or whether there is an “unprecedented crusade to dismantle…jurisprudence” is, perhaps, best left to the reader.
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