SADO Attorneys to Argue Before Michigan Supreme Court at October Session 

Arguments to be heard October 9 and 10, 2018

SADO attorneys will present arguments to the Michigan Supreme Court at the October session. 

Christine Pagac will argue for the defendant-appellee in an oral argument on the prosecutor’s application in People v. Straughter on October 9 in the morning session. A jury convicted Mr. Straughter of several felonies arising from his part in the robbery of a man whom his girlfriend had befriended. The trial court sentenced Mr. Straughter as a habitual offender to serve enhanced prison terms on each count. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed Mr. Straughter’s convictions but remanded for resentencing because the prosecution had failed to file a proof of service for the habitual offender notice, rendering the notice void. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on the prosecutor’s application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether the harmless error tests articulated in MCR 2.613 and MCL 769.26 apply to violations of the habitual offender notice requirements in MCL 769.13, compare People v Cobley, 463 Mich 893 (2000), with People v Johnson, 495 Mich 919 (2013); (2) whether the prosecutor may establish that a defendant received a habitual offender notice at any time before the 21-day time limit in MCL 769.13 by any means other than a proof of service; and (3) whether providing a habitual offender notice in district court satisfies the requirement set forth in MCL 769.13 that the habitual offender notice be served within 21 days after the defendant’s arraignment on the information.?


Erin Van Campen will argue for the defendant-appellee on the prosecutor’s appeal in People v. Roberts on October 9 in the afternoon session. A jury convicted Mr. Roberts of felony murder and first-degree child abuse. The victim was his two-year-old son, who suffered a brain injury after Mr. Roberts pulled the child’s legs out from under him, causing the child to fall back and hit his head. Mr. Roberts filed a motion for new trial, alleging that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance by failing to adequately investigate the medical controversy surrounding abusive head trauma in children and by failing to call an expert witness at trial to support the defense theory that the child’s injury was the result of an accident rather than intentional abuse. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that counsel had not rendered ineffective assistance and denied the motion for new trial. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on the prosecution’s application for leave to appeal to address whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Mr. Roberts was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel.  Strickland v Washington, 466 US 668 (1984).

Chari Grove will argue for the defendant-appellant on the prosecutor’s appeal in People v. McKeever on October 10 in the morning session. A jury convicted Mr. McKeever of unarmed robbery and assault for beating a man while his girlfriend took the man’s wallet. His defense was to admit that he was guilty of assault, but not robbery, because he had no part in taking anything from the victim. The girlfriend pled guilty before Mr. McKeever’s trial but did not testify, though she later claimed to be willing to testify that Mr. McKeever did not know she was going to take the wallet. Mr. McKeever’s trial counsel made statements on the record suggesting that he was precluded from calling the witness, though the trial court made no such statements on the record. The trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing to determine whether it was the court or counsel who was responsible for the girlfriend’s failure to testify, and whether counsel was ineffective for any such decision in that regard. Defense counsel was unable to secure the girlfriend’s presence at the hearing. The trial court denied Mr. McKeever’s motion for a new trial, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on the prosecution’s application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether Mr. McKeever is entitled to a new trial based on either trial court error or ineffective assistance of counsel, where the defense witness that was not produced at trial also did not appear at the post-conviction evidentiary hearing; and (2) whether the witness’s failure to appear at the hearing is attributable to the defense under these circumstances.

The above issues and summaries are taken or adapted from the summaries on the Michigan Supreme Court’s website. Find the full summaries and the briefs filed in the cases 

Watch live-streaming of the oral arguments here