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CRIMINAL 19: Sentencing guidelines are advisory.

In this case, there is no doubt that defendant assaulted and seriously injured the victim; she also destroyed the victim’s and his wife’s property.  Defendant and the victim engaged in an affair for more than five years. The victim was a wealthy, middle-aged married man; defendant, a substantially younger single woman. These offenses arose during a weekend that the two spent at the victim’s vacation home.

Defendant became increasingly frustrated with what she believed was the slow pace of the victim’s divorce proceeding. The victim, however, had withdrawn his divorce action months earlier, apparently without informing defendant. Moreover, on this weekend, defendant discovered an item leading her to conclude that the victim continued to engage in conjugal relations with his spouse. Excessive alcohol use also appears to have contributed to defendant’s destructive and assaultive behavior.


Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder (AWIGBH), malicious destruction of personal property valued at less than $200, domestic violence, malicious destruction of a building between $200 and $1,000, and resisting or obstructing a police officer.


The trial court imposed a sentence of two years’ probation, with the first five months to be served in county jail, for the AWIGBH conviction, a three-day jail sentence, with credit for time served, for the malicious destruction of personal property, malicious destruction of a building, and resisting or obstructing convictions; a thirty-day jail sentence for the domestic violence conviction; and a three-month jail sentence for the felonious assault conviction.

Sentencing Guidelines

The prosecution argued that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a downward departing sentence. The sentencing guidelines are advisory, and although a trial court must determine the applicable guidelines range and take it into account when imposing a sentence, the court is not required to sentence a defendant within that range.

The trial court noted that the prosecution had earlier offered defendant an opportunity to plead guilty to felonious assault and the misdemeanor malicious-destruction offenses in exchange for dismissal of the remaining charges. Defendant, however, declined what the court offer by the prosecution. If defendant had accepted the prosecution’s offer, the sentencing guidelines’ recommendation would have been 0 to 17 months’ imprisonment.

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MICHIGAN DIVORCE 79: Plaintiff intentionally hindered the sale of the house.

The court found that the parties were equally at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, and it found that Plaintiff had intentionally hindered the sale of the house after the court ordered that it be listed so it could receive a realistic determination of the house’s value. The record showed that Plaintiff had declined several showings.

MICHIGAN WILLS/TRUSTS 33: Trustees required to provide notice informing recipients that they may challenge the validity of a trust and the period allowed for bringing such a challenge.

The notice sent clearly advised her that if she wanted to contest the validity of the Trust in a judicial proceeding, the law required her to do so within six months from the date of the letter. Nothing in the statute requires a trustee to inform the recipients of the specific legal consequences of not acting during the time allowed.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 97: The court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff.

The trial court found that plaintiff sustained her burden of establishing that a constructive trust was necessary to prevent defendant from being unjustly enriched. Accordingly, the court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff and ordered defendant to convey his interest in the property to plaintiff.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

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