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Types Of Appeals For A State Sex Crime Conviction Lawyer, Southfield CityThere are three primary ways to challenge a state conviction in Michigan. These are:

  • Direct appeals.
  • Collateral post-conviction petitions or motions in state court under Michigan Court Rule 6.500, commonly referred to as a “sixty-five hundred motion”.
  • Collateral post-conviction petitions in federal court filed under 28 United States Code 2254, often known as a “habeas corpus petition.”

Direct Appeals

A direct appeal is the first form of appeal immediately from the trial court to the Court of Appeals, and potentially, from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. The nature of this appeal depends on whether it follows a trial or a plea. If it’s following a trial, it is an appeal by right. If it’s following a plea, it is by an application for leave to appeal.

In Michigan, every defendant that goes to trial and loses has an automatic right to an appeal. Typically, this appeal must be filed within 42 days from the date of the sentence. Once this “claim of appeal” is filed, various processes get triggered.

Process Of A Direct Appeal

Firstly, the appellate lawyer must order the trial transcripts from the court. These transcripts are critical because the facts that the Court of Appeals will use to make a decision are those established at trial before the trial judge. After the completion of the transcription process, the transcripts are sent to the appellate lawyer and the prosecutor.

Secondly, the appellate lawyer has a set period to draft the brief on appeal. The prosecutor is then given an opportunity to file a reply brief. In some cases, the defense lawyer may also file a reply to the prosecutor’s response. If requested, an oral argument typically follows, after which the Court of Appeals will make a decision.

Application For Leave To Appeal

In contrast, an application for leave to appeal necessitates a written brief asking the Court of Appeals for permission to appeal in a guilty plea case. The Court of Appeals can either deny it, ask the prosecutor to file a response, or grant the application. If granted, a similar timeline to the direct appeal by right following a trial is established.

Appeals To The Supreme Court

After the Court of Appeals’ decision, the losing party can file an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, any side that appeals to the Michigan Supreme Court must do so by filing an application for leave to appeal. The Michigan Supreme Court can rule on it without a response from the winning side, or ask them to file a response. The Supreme Court then grants or denies leave to appeal.

The Role Of The Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court does not act as a second round of the Court of Appeals. Instead, it’s supposed to be selective, granting leave to appeal on cases where there is a significant issue of law that would impact many litigants, prosecutors, and defendants across the state, or where there’s a disagreement within the Court of Appeals about the interpretation of the law.

Collateral Post-Conviction Petition Filed In State Court

The second type of attack on a state conviction in Michigan is a collateral post-conviction petition filed in state court under Michigan Court Rule 6.500, commonly referred to as a “sixty-five hundred motion.” This motion must be filed in the same court and with the same judge where the conviction took place, barring certain exceptions.

Good Cause And Prejudice Requirements For 6.500 Motions

These motions have strict procedural rules, including good cause and prejudice requirements. You must show good cause for why the issue wasn’t raised previously and demonstrate prejudice to the defendant as a result of it not being raised. These requirements act as a procedural bar to many 6.500 motions being filed and granted.

Collateral Post-Conviction Petition Filed In Federal Court

The third form of challenging a state conviction in Michigan is by filing a collateral post-conviction petition in federal court under a federal statute, 28 US Code 2254, commonly known as a “habeas corpus petition.” The procedural hurdles for this form of appeal are even higher than for a 6.500 motion.

A 2254 habeas corpus petition can only present issues of federal constitutional law. The issues must be “federalized,” meaning that they must be clearly framed as objections to federal constitutional issues during the state trial. This is a very stringent requirement; without using specific terminology to make it clear that an objection is based on federal constitutional law, a federal court will likely not hear the case.

There is a related corollary issue, the exhaustion doctrine, which stipulates that you must have given the state’s highest court, in this case, the Michigan Supreme Court, at least the opportunity to review that ruling. If the Michigan Supreme Court wasn’t given at least an opportunity to review the issue, the federal court will not review it in a 2254 habeas corpus petition. This doctrine is significant and derived from the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), which implemented technical and strict requirements for federal review of state convictions under 2254.

A 2254 habeas petition can be filed in the federal district where the conviction occurred or where the person is currently in custody. Michigan has two districts: the Eastern District of Michigan and the Western District of Michigan.

Finally, if a 2254 habeas petition is denied in federal court, there is a limited opportunity to appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati (which includes Michigan). However, to do so, the District Court judge needs to issue a “Certificate of Appealability,” essentially a recognition that reasonable judges or jurors could disagree with the decision and that the defendant should be allowed to appeal the decision.

If the District Court judge denies that Certificate of Appealability, an appeal can still be made to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, but before the substantive appeal can be filed, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has to be asked to issue a Certificate of Appealability. If the Sixth Circuit grants that Certificate of Appealability, the appeal can then proceed. However, if it does not, the defendant is procedurally barred from appealing the denial of the habeas 2254 to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

For more information on the Types Of Appeals For A State Sex Crime Conviction, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 509-0056 today.

Mark Satawa

Call Today For Your Free Case Strategy Session
(248) 509-0056