People v. Lockridge

Decision Date29 July 2015
Docket NumberCalendar No. 7.,Docket No. 149073.
Citation870 N.W.2d 502,498 Mich. 358
PartiesPEOPLE v. LOCKRIDGE.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Aaron D. Lindstrom, Solicitor General, Jessica R. Cooper, Prosecuting Attorney, Thomas R. Grden, Chief, Appellate Division, and Danielle Walton, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for the people.

State Appellate Defender (by Brett DeGroff, Desiree Ferguson, Detroit and Michael L. Mittlestat) for defendant.

Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Aaron D. Lindstrom, Solicitor General, and Linus Banghart–Linn, Assistant Attorney General, for the Attorney General.

Kym L. Worthy, Prosecuting Attorney, and Timothy A. Baughman, Chief, Research, Training, and Appeals, for the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney.

Bradley R. Hall for Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.

Opinion

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 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, 125 S.Ct. 738. 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 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 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.

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,

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, 849 N.W.2d 388 (opinion by Beckering, P.J.). She would have made the guidelines advisory to cure the constitutional problem. Id. at 286, 849 N.W.2d 388. 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, 849 N.W.2d 388 (opinion by Shapiro, J.).

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, 846 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, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968) (discussing the fundamental nature of the right and its long history).

The question presented in this case relates specifically to whether the procedure involved in setting a mandatory sentence infringes a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. One key to this inquiry is whether the pertinent facts that must be found are an element of the offense or a mere sentencing factor. See, e.g., Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227, 232, 119 S.Ct. 1215, 143 L.Ed.2d 311 (1999) (“Much turns on the determination that a fact is an element of an offense rather than a sentencing consideration, given that elements must be charged in the indictment, submitted to a jury, and proven by the Government beyond a reasonable doubt.”). The first United States Supreme Court case warranting specific mention here is McMillan v. Pennsylvania, 477 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 2411, 91 L.Ed.2d 67 (1986).

In McMillan, the Supreme Court held that the visible possession of a firearm, which the Pennsylvania statute at issue used as a fact increasing the defendant's mandatory sentence, did not constitute an element of the crimes enumerated in its mandatory sentencing statute. Rather, it “instead is a sentencing factor that comes into play only after the defendant has been found guilty of one of those crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id. at 86, 106 S.Ct. 2411. Accordingly, the McMillan Court rejected the defendant's argument that Pennsylvania's mandatory minimum sentencing act was unconstitutional.

Things began to change dramatically with Jones, however. In that case, the Court held that the fact of whether a victim suffered serious bodily injury, which authorized an increase in the defendant's sentence from 15 to 25 years, was an element of a federal statute prohibiting carjacking or aiding and abetting carjacking that must be found by a jury. Although Jones was decided on statutory rather than constitutional grounds, the Court concluded that treating the fact of bodily injury as a mere sentencing factor “would raise serious constitutional questions.” Jones, 526 U.S. at 251, 119 S.Ct. 1215. Justices Stevens and Scalia wrote concurring opinions in Jones that presaged the constitutional rule that would be established a year later in Apprendi. Id. at 252–253, 119 S.Ct. 1215 (Stevens, J., concurring); id. at 253, 119 S.Ct. 1215 (Scalia, J., concurring).

In Apprendi, the United States Supreme Court announced the general Sixth Amendment principle at issue in this case: “Other than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 490, 120 S.Ct. 2348 (emphasis added).12 The Court struck down as unconstitutional a statute that provided for a possible...

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