This brief is the culmination of the constitutional challenge to Michigan's felony child support statute, MCLA 750.165, brought by the University of Michigan Law School's "Innocence Project" and UM Law Professor David Moran, on behalf of child support payor, criminal defendant, and appellant, Selesa Likine.
Prior to her jury trial, the prosecutor successfully moved in limine to preclude Ms. Likine from introducing any evidence of her ability to pay the child support ordered by the family court. The trial court granted this evidentiary motion based on the Michigan Court of Appeals decision in People v Adams, 262 Mich App 89 (2004).
Not surprisingly, Ms. Likine was jury convicted of failure to pay child support in the Oakland County Circuit Court. Her conviction was affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a published, thus binding, opinion.
In this Supreme Court brief, Appellant argues that the statute, modified in 1999 to remove the ability to raise an "ability-to-pay" defense, is unconstitutional as a matter of both federal and state Due Process. Specifically, the brief raises a Fourteenth Amendment argument relative to Michigan's felony non-support statute.
Notable from this brief is the following passage: "The Court of Appeals decision in People v Adams ... represents the first time in American history that a jurisdiction has upheld a statute that imposes criminal liability without allowing a defendant to prove that the actus reus was involuntary." See page 11 of the Appellant's Brief.
Otherwise, this is an example of a very well briefed issue of constitutional law on a very simple criminal matter.
The case was argued to the Supreme Court on October 5, 2011; we practitioners here in Michigan are expecting a decision any day now.