This is a rare event in an appellate attorney's career: the reversal of a jury trial conviction on appeal.
In this case, my client, the defendant, was jury-convicted of CSC 2nd (sexual assault, 2nd degree). Although we raised the issue of the voluntariness of his statement to a polygraph examiner, and although we federalized this issue, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed on other grounds.
The intermediate appellate court raised, sua sponte, the issue of whether cousins (once removed) satisfy the four degrees of blood relationship of the statute. The Court of Appeals held that it did not; that my client was related by a fifth degree of blood (i.e. second cousins; once removed) and that as such, he could not be charged or convicted under the applicable portion of Michigan's rape statute.
At my request, the Court of Appeals, in its order, remanded Defendant immediately from the Michigan Department of Corrections to the custody of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department for proceedings in the trial court consistent with the vacation of his conviction.
Can you imagine waking up in your prison cell after about a year in the joint to be told by the guard standing there that your are going home; that your conviction is wiped-out. That just does not happen very often.
The case is particularly significant in how the Wayne County Prosecutor charges, and has charged, CSC cases. Now they will need to utilize different portions of the statute in cases like this; or they will need to get better evidence of the use of force.
In this case, a "Romeo and Juliet" situation to begin with, there was very weak evidence of the use of force.
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