|Case Forum:||Michigan Court of Appeals|
|Keywords:||due process, arrest warrant, sworn complaint, not guilty, OWI, misdemeanor|
Rosalind Rochkind (P23504) | Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. | 1000 Woodbridge Street | Detroit, MI 48207-3108 | 313-446-5522 | [email protected]
Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
Amicus Counsel argues that once a “sworn complaint” is filed with the District Court to an offense within that court’s jurisdiction, the matter may proceed to trial regardless of whether the complaint is filed before or after the plea of “not guilty.” The circuit court misinterpreted and misapplied the relevant Michigan statutes and court rules, which do not require additional procedures, as they are redundant, create unnecessary burdens, and neither enhance fairness, nor promote justice. Additionally, Due Process does not require further procedures in the present case; Defendant was afforded all of the process that he was due. The Michigan court rules and statutes require different, simpler procedures for misdemeanors, as opposed to felony, charges. Pursuant to Michigan Court Rules, misdemeanor traffic cases can be commenced by service by a law enforcement officer on the Defendant of the written citation, which can qualify as a “sworn complaint,” and filing of the citation in the district court. Additionally, pursuant to the pertinent court rules, an arrest warrant is not necessary before commencement of the case against Defendant because it was not needed in order to secure Defendant’s presence or his plea. Moreover, the pertinent Michigan statutory provisions yield the same results as the pertinent court rules. These statutes only require a complaint to be filed to initiate the issuance of an arrest warrant if it is needed to secure the presence of the Defendant. Therefore, no additional documentation was necessary in order to proceed to trial in this case. Additionally, a “sworn complaint” is not necessary for the magistrate to accept a plea from a defendant, but if the plea is “not guilty,” it is necessary that there be a “sworn complaint” filed before further proceedings. An appearance ticket suffices as a “sworn complaint” if it conforms to the provisions of MCL 764.1(e), and is made under oath, as was the case here. It is irrelevant whether the “sworn complaint” is filed before or after the magistrate took the Defendant’s plea. Thus, the procedures mandated in Michigan’s statutory law and court rules, along with those required by due process, were satisfied in this case.
Michigan Court of Appeals:
|MSC requested LDF amicus brief?||No|
The case at bar concerns a traffic offense in which the Defendant was properly stopped, arrested, and charged with a misdemeanor of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). A signed and sworn written citation was filed with the district court. The Defendant appeared on the date of his arraignment, pled not guilty, and was found guilty by a jury. Defendant argues that his conviction was improper because the prosecutor should have filed a “sworn complaint” and an arrest warrant should have been issued following his plea of “not guilty.” The district court denied Defendant’s claims, but the Circuit Court reversed and vacated the conviction, holding that the filing of a “sworn complaint” by the prosecutor, and the issuance of an arrest warrant were required by Due Process in order to proceed to trial following a “not guilty” plea.