870 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015), 149073, People v. Lockridge

Docket Nº:149073
Citation:870 N.W.2d 502, 498 Mich. 358
Opinion Judge:Bridget M. McCormack, J.
Party Name:PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RAHIM OMARKHAN LOCKRIDGE, Defendant-Appellant
Attorney:For PEOPLE OF MI, Plaintiff-Appellee: DANIELLE WALTON, PROSECUTOR-APPELLATE DIVISION, PONTIAC, MI. For RAHIM OMARKHAN LOCKRIDGE, Defendant-Appellant: DESIREE M. FERGUSON, DETROIT, MI.
Judge Panel:Chief Justice: Robert P. Young, Jr. Justices: Stephen J. Markman, Mary Beth Kelly, Brian K. Zahra, Bridget M. McCormack, David F. Viviano, Richard H. Bernstein. MARKMAN, J. (dissenting). Bridget M. McCormack Robert P. Young, Jr. Mary Beth Kelly David F. Viviano Richard H. Bernstein Stephen J. Mar...
Case Date:July 29, 2015
Court:Supreme Court of Michigan
 
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870 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015)

498 Mich. 358

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

RAHIM OMARKHAN LOCKRIDGE, Defendant-Appellant

No. 149073

Supreme Court of Michigan

July 29, 2015

Argued January 15, 2015

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Rahim Omarkhan Lockridge was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the death of his wife, MCL 750.321, following a jury trial in the Oakland Circuit Court. His minimum sentence range calculated under the sentencing guidelines, MCL 777.1 et seq., was 43 to 86 months. The court, Nanci J. Grant, J., concluded that there were factors not accounted for in scoring the guidelines, including a probation violation, killing his wife in front of their three children, leaving the children at home with their mother dead on the floor, and prior domestic violence. Citing these as substantial and compelling reasons to depart from the minimum sentence range, MCL 769.34(3), the court sentenced defendant to a term of 8 years (96 months) to 15 years (the statutory maximum sentence). Defendant appealed, challenging both the scoring of the guidelines and the trial court's decision to exceed the guidelines minimum sentence range. While his case was pending in the Court of Appeals, the United States Supreme Court decided Alleyne v United States, 570 U.S. __; 133 S.Ct. 2151; 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), which extended the rule of Apprendi v New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466; 120 S.Ct. 2348; 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), and held that a fact that increases either end of a defendant's sentencing range must have been admitted by the defendant or found by the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. After allowing defendant to file a supplemental brief challenging the guidelines scoring on Alleyne grounds, the Court of Appeals, BECKERING, P.J., and O'CONNELL and SHAPIRO, JJ., affirmed defendant's sentence in three separate opinions and rejected the Alleyne challenge. Judge O'CONNELL stated in the lead opinion that the panel was bound by People v Herron, 303 Mich.App. 392; 845 N.W.2d 533 (2013), which had rejected the same argument based on Alleyne. Judge BECKERING stated in her concurring opinion that had she not been bound by Herron, she would have held that requiring judicial fact-finding to set the guidelines mandatory minimum sentence range violated Alleyne and that the guidelines should be made advisory to cure the constitutional problem. In his concurring opinion, Judge SHAPIRO stated that he would have held that Alleyne only bars requiring judicial fact-finding to set the bottom of the minimum sentence range under the guidelines, so only the bottom of the range needed to be made advisory to cure the constitutional flaw. 304 Mich.App. 278; 849 N.W.2d 388 (2014). Defendant sought leave to appeal, and the Supreme Court granted his application to address the constitutional question presented by defendant's Alleyne challenge. 496 Mich. 852, 847 N.W.2d 925 (2014) .

For PEOPLE OF MI, Plaintiff-Appellee: DANIELLE WALTON, PROSECUTOR-APPELLATE DIVISION, PONTIAC, MI.

For RAHIM OMARKHAN LOCKRIDGE, Defendant-Appellant: DESIREE M. FERGUSON, DETROIT, MI.

Chief Justice: Robert P. Young, Jr. Justices: Stephen J. Markman, Mary Beth Kelly, Brian K. Zahra, Bridget M. McCormack, David F. Viviano, Richard H. Bernstein. MARKMAN, J. (dissenting).

OPINION

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[498 Mich. 364] BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

Bridget M. McCormack, J.

This case presents the question whether the Michigan sentencing guidelines violate a defendant's Sixth Amendment fundamental right to a jury trial. We conclude that the rule from Apprendi v New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466; 120 S.Ct. 2348; 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), as extended by Alleyne v United States, 570 U.S. ; 133 S.Ct. 2151; 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), applies to Michigan's sentencing guidelines and renders them constitutionally deficient. That deficiency is the extent to which the guidelines require judicial fact-finding beyond facts admitted by the defendant or found by the jury to score offense variables (OVs) that mandatorily increase the floor of the guidelines minimum sentence range, i.e. the " mandatory minimum" sentence under Alleyne.

To remedy the constitutional violation, we sever MCL 769.34(2) to the extent that it makes the sentencing guidelines range as scored on the basis of facts beyond those admitted by the defendant or found by the jury beyond a reasonable doubt mandatory. We also strike down the requirement in MCL 769.34(3) that a sentencing court that departs from the applicable guidelines range must articulate a substantial and [498 Mich. 365] compelling reason for that departure.1

Consistently with the remedy imposed by the United States Supreme Court in United States v Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 233; 125 S.Ct. 738; 160 L.Ed.2d 621 (2005), we hold that a guidelines minimum sentence range calculated in violation of Apprendi and Alleyne is advisory only and that sentences that depart from that threshold are to be reviewed by appellate courts for reasonableness. Booker, 543 U.S. at 264. To preserve as much as possible the legislative intent in enacting the guidelines, however, we hold that a sentencing court must determine the applicable guidelines range and take it into account when imposing a sentence. Id.

In this case the defendant's guidelines minimum sentence range was irrelevant to the upward departure sentence he ultimately received. Accordingly, we hold

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that he cannot show the prejudice necessary to establish plain error under People v Carines, 460 Mich. 750; 597 N.W.2d 130 (1999), and we affirm his sentence.2

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The defendant was convicted by a jury of involuntary manslaughter for his wife's death. At sentencing, defense counsel agreed with scoring OV 3 (physical [498 Mich. 366] injury to victim)3 at 25 points and OV 5 (psychological injury to member of victim's family)4 at 15 points; counsel did not mention OV 6 (offender's intent to kill or injure another individual),5 for which 10 points were assessed. Counsel did challenge the scoring of OV 9 (number of victims)6 and OV 10 (exploitation of a vulnerable victim),7 but both only on the ground that the facts of the case did not support the number of points assessed by a preponderance of the evidence. The trial court felt otherwise and kept the score of both variables at 10 points.

With his prior record variable score of 35 points, the defendant's resulting guidelines minimum sentence range was 43 to 86 months,8 but the trial court exceeded the guidelines and imposed a minimum sentence of 8 years (96 months) and a maximum sentence of 15 years (180 months, the statutory maximum).9 As substantial and compelling reasons justifying the departure, the trial court cited that defendant had violated probation orders that forbade him from being where he was when he killed his wife, that he killed his wife in front of their three children as they struggled to stop him from doing so, and that he left the children at home with their mother dead on the floor without concern for their physical or emotional well-being, which were not factors already accounted for in scoring the guidelines. Furthermore, the court said, the extent of the defendant's prior domestic violence was not considered in the guidelines.

[498 Mich. 367] The defendant appealed by right in the Court of Appeals, challenging the scoring of the guidelines and the trial court's decision to exceed the guidelines minimum sentence range. While this case was pending in the Court of Appeals, the United States Supreme Court decided Alleyne, and defense counsel moved to file a supplemental brief challenging the scoring of the guidelines on Alleyne grounds. The Court of Appeals granted that motion. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant's sentence and rejected his Alleyne challenge to the scoring of guidelines, adhering to its recent decision in People v Herron, 303 Mich.App. 392; 845 N.W.2d 533 (2013), which had rejected that same argument.10 People v. Lockridge,

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304 Mich.App. 278, 284; 849 N.W.2d 388 (2014) (opinion by O'Connell, J.). Judge Beckering and Judge Shapiro filed concurring opinions agreeing with Judge O'Connell's lead opinion that the panel was bound by Herron, but disagreeing with the outcome reached in Herron. If not bound by Herron, Judge Beckering would have held that requiring judicial fact-finding to set the guidelines mandatory minimum sentence range violated Alleyne. Id. at 285 (opinion by Beckering, P.J.). She would have made the guidelines advisory to cure the constitutional problem. Id. at 286. Judge Shapiro would have held that Alleyne only bars requiring judicial fact-finding to set the bottom of the minimum sentence range, so only the bottom of the range need be made advisory to cure the constitutional flaw. Id. at 311, 315-316 (opinion by Shapiro, J.)

[498 Mich. 368] The defendant filed an application for leave to appeal in this Court. We granted leave to appeal to address the significant constitutional question presented.11 People v Lockridge, 496 Mich. 852; 847 N.W.2d 925 (2014).

II. LEGAL BACKGROUND

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation . . . . [US Const, Am VI.]

The right to a jury trial is a fundamental one, with a long history that dates back to the founding of this country and beyond. Duncan v Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 148-154; 88 S.Ct. 1444...

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