Shyler has had the Court of Appeals reversed by the Supreme Court of Michigan for the third time in three months. We aren’t sure if this is a record, but no one is counting when it comes to liberating cannabis users from the oppressive State of Michigan. This time, we tried for the holy-grail of medical marijuana defenses — attempting to have caregiver-to-caregiver transfers recognized by the Supreme Court. Imagine, a regulatory system where plants can be cared for by more than one person. While the Supreme Court passed on the issue, Michigan’s court of final review determined that the lesser courts failed to recognize the 2016 amendments to the MMMA, and have reversed both the Court of Appeals and the Circuit Court in our latest appeal. Soon, cannabis liberation will come to the State of Michigan, whether the ruling political class wants it or not. Our latest result is available here.
Just three weeks after the Michigan Supreme Court granted leave and remanded our Section 8 appeal to the Court of Appeals, today, we received notice that the Supreme Court granted another application for leave to appeal in an entirely different case.
Shyler learned that a Macomb County resident had been sentenced to five to fifteen years in prison over marijuana convictions and probation violations. Shyler immediately appealed the court’s sentence arguing that the sentence was unreasonable. The Court of Appeals denied our appeal, however, today, the Supreme Court ordered the Court of Appeals consider whether our client’s sentence was reasonable.
Recently, the Supreme Court issued People v Lockridge, a decision that expands trial court discretion in criminal sentencing. If our appeal is successful, it will reinforce the notion that the punishment must fit the crime, and that five years in prison for marijuana is unreasonable.
Three Shyler Engel, PLLC clients had just finished seeing a comedy show held at Soaring Eagle Casino, and decided to smoke marijuana in the parking lot. This parking lot is somewhat notorious in the medical marijuana defense community because it is the same casino parking lot that was the subject of question in People v Carlton, the Court of Appeals’ case that determined whether the immunity and defenses provided under the Medical Marihuana Act apply to a person who smokes marijuana in his or her own car while that car is parked in the parking lot of a private business that is open to the general public. In People v Carlton, the medical marijuana patient lost because the Court concluded that a person’s own car, when in a public place, constitutes a public place, and therefore, medical marihuana protections do not apply.
Our clients’ prosecutor was, in fact, the very prosecutor who argued the case before the Court of Appeals. However, we had alternative theories of defense. Despite only one client having a medical marihuana patient card, we filed a motion to dismiss based on the difference between communal use and possession as it relates to medical marijuana patients, and other traditional defenses. One of our clients was even charged with delivery for simply sharing the marijuana, which we believed a complete overreach from the intent of the delivery statute. When the day of the motion hearing was held, all of our clients we offered and took advantage of the same deal: Possession charges were dropped. Delivery charge dropped, elimination of a non-public record after 30 days of non-reporting and non-testing probation. In fact, the court sent a check back to our clients because the arraigning judge had assessed a bond that well exceeded the fine imposed.
After more than a year and more than a dozen hearings, a long fight finally ended with a severely reduced plea bargain and a Cobb’s evaluation to a lengthy term of probation. This case started with a raid by the DEA. More marijuana and plants were in our client’s home than authorized by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Inevitably, a safety deposit box was located and more than $100,000 in cash was seized by the federal government. The home was not subject to forfeiture, but there was an understanding that if we put up much of a fight, it would be. Despite the federal government being involved, we were able to secure the return of a significant portion of the cash in the civil forfeiture proceedings. Our client was charged with six felony counts: Conducting Criminal Enterprises (Michigan’s version of RICO), a 20 year felony, both the 4 and 7 year Manufacture of Marijuana felonies, conspiracy charges, and Maintaining a Drug House. Our client was a Habitual 4th Offender, meaning the judge could send our client to prison for life. Our client’s minimum sentencing guidelines were for many years in prison. We mounted the appropriate defenses and were prepared to take the case to trial. After hundreds of hours of work, half the charges were dismissed, including the 20 year felony, and the judge agreed to sentence our client to probation.
After one year of legal twists and turns, more than a dozen court hearings, bond violations, and motions, a Shyler Engel, PLLC client, was finally was sentenced to HYTA Probation in one of the firmest sentencing courts in Oakland County. This was an overwhelming success for our client. More than one year ago, our client sold an appreciable amount of marijuana multiple times to multiple undercover agents in a drug task force. There were not any medical marijuana protections. At the time the felony manufacture and delivery charges were brought, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act only permitted people under the age of 21 to utilize this provision. Our client was 23 at the time of the incidents. We knew that changes to HYTA were coming down from the Legislature, so we filed a motion to stay proceedings under then-undecided the Section 8 Supreme Court cases Hartwick/Tuttle. Our motion was granted to stay the case. After Hartwick and Tuttle were decided, the changes to HYTA had come into effect, and we sought an agreement with the prosecutor to attain HYTA. We are thankful the prosecution agreed that our client should benefit from HYTA despite his older age and seriousness of his crimes. At the time the plea was entered, HTYA was promised by the judge on the condition that the Defendant not use drugs or alcohol. The client then tested positive for marijuana and missed a drug test. It was a realistic possibility that our client would be sent to jail for a lengthy period of time and have a felony record. Shyler Engel investigated the supposed missed test and marijuana test. Having an understanding of metabolite elimination rates, detection windows, and the studies to back our arguments up, we convinced the judge that the testing facility had made a mistake. While our client was sentenced to a lengthy term of probation, he left that court room with the opportunity to maintain a felony-free record without serving any jail time.
A Shyler Engel, PLLC client was recently raided by a local drug task force. A large marijuana grow was discovered in the industrial park location with far too many plants to easily qualify for medical marijuana protections. Also discovered by the police were prescription drugs that the client simply had no legal right to possess. The client is a habitual offender and was charged with enhanced felonies and faced up to eight years in prison. Realistically the client’s sentencing guidelines indicated that he would likely be sentenced to jail for at least 6 months, and maybe even get prison time. However, arguable search and seizure issues became apparent during the course of this firm’s investigation of the incident. Making the prosecutor aware of these issues, Shyler Engel was able to secure a plea to only misdemeanors. Then, with a generous sentencing recommendation from the prosecutor, our client was sentenced to only non-testing, non-reporting probation for one year, and fines and costs. To this client, this was a stellar consequence-free result.
A Shyler Engel, PLLC client with prior drug offenses faced two felony drug charges and a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Noticing that detainment of the client during the initial interaction with the police may not meet a reasonable suspicion standard, a deal was quickly reached with the prosecutor, and the client left the courthouse with only the misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, no probation, and a minimal fine.
A Shyler Engel, PLLC medical marihuana client, who was accused of selling marijuana to multiple undercover officers numerous times, who were obviously not connected to him through the MMMP registry, had all five felony distribution charges dropped in exchange for a plea to one misdemeanor possession charge after Shyler Engel, PLLC negotiated with prosecutors. What’s even better for the client is that he did not have to give up his medical card during his short term of probation.