People v. Maritime, Docket No. 151342.

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtMARKMAN, J.
Citation886 N.W.2d 396,499 Mich. 389
Parties PEOPLE v. MARCH.
Docket NumberDocket No. 151342.
Decision Date23 June 2016

499 Mich. 389
886 N.W.2d 396

PEOPLE
v.
MARCH.

Docket No. 151342.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

Argued Jan. 13, 2016.
Decided June 23, 2016.


886 N.W.2d 399

Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Aaron D. Lindstrom, Solicitor General,

886 N.W.2d 400

Kym Worthy, Prosecuting Attorney, Jason W. Williams, Chief of Research, Training, and Appeals, and David A. McCreedy, Lead Appellate Attorney, for the people.

M. Michael Koroi for defendant.

MARKMAN, J.

499 Mich. 392

We consider here whether a homeowner, or another person rightfully possessing a home,

499 Mich. 393

commits criminal larceny by removing fixtures from the home after it has been foreclosed on and sold at a sheriff's sale, but before the statutory redemption period has expired. The trial court concluded that such removal did not constitute larceny because defendant was in possession of the home and fixtures at the time. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the foreclosure-sale purchaser's equitable interest in the home signified that the fixtures constituted the “property of another” at the time of their removal and that defendant therefore required the purchaser's consent before these could be taken.

We conclude that our larceny law prohibits the wrongful dispossession of property, protecting an individual's possessory interests from a wrongful taking. Because defendant held the exclusive possessory right in the home, including its fixtures, at the time of the alleged larceny, he could not have wrongfully dispossessed anyone else, including the foreclosure-sale purchaser, of rightful possession of that property. Accordingly, he could not have committed larceny of the fixtures. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstate the trial court's dismissal of the criminal charges.1

I. FACTS AND HISTORY

499 Mich. 394

Defendant's father owned a home in Westland, Michigan, which secured a mortgage loan. In July 2011, he granted defendant a power of attorney that gave defendant the right “to possess, recover, manage, hold, control, develop, subdivide, partition, mortgage, lease or otherwise deal with any real property belonging” to his father. Additionally, defendant could “dispose of any real property” or personal property. Around this time, defendant's father also took up residence at an assisted-living home. Subsequently, the mortgage loan on the Westland home fell into default. The mortgagee eventually foreclosed and on August 9, 2012, the home was sold at a sheriff's sale to John Hamood for $33,425.80.2 On the sale date, a

886 N.W.2d 401

six-month redemption period commenced under MCL 600.3240(8), during which time defendant and his father could void the purchaser's deed by tendering full payment of the purchase price to Hamood. The property went unredeemed.

Hamood inspected the home on February 10, 2013, the day after the redemption period expired. Inside, he noticed various items missing, including kitchen cabinets, the kitchen countertop, a furnace, duct work,

499 Mich. 395

interior doors, a hot water tank, and an exterior air conditioner. He contacted the police the same day, informing them of his findings, and they initiated an investigation that resulted in a search of defendant's home approximately two weeks later. The search uncovered many of the missing items, along with other fixtures that had apparently been removed.

Defendant was arrested and charged in a criminal information with two counts: committing larceny in a dwelling house, MCL 750.360, “by stealing counter tops, sink, furnace, doors, hot water heater, grab bars, [and] cabinets,” and receiving, possessing, or concealing stolen goods worth more than $200 but less than $1,000, MCL 750.535(4)(a). In June 2013, defendant filed his first motion to quash the information, setting forth alternative arguments. First, he argued that fixtures were not the proper subject of larceny; that is, that one could not commit larceny of a fixture. Second, he argued that he could not have wrongfully taken property of another because he retained legal title and the right of possession throughout the redemption period, during which time the removal of the fixtures had occurred.3 The latter argument was considered by the trial court, which denied defendant's motion, as well as a subsequent amended motion, on the basis that defendant had failed to prove a right to possession. Upon a motion for reconsideration, however, the prosecutor conceded that defendant had the right to possess the house during the redemption period. Consequently, the trial court granted defendant's motion for reconsideration and dismissed the charges.

499 Mich. 396

The Court of Appeals reversed, focusing on People v. Sheldon, 208 Mich.App. 331, 333–334, 527 N.W.2d 76 (1995), for the proposition that the “owner” of property included not only the titleholder of that property, but also “any other person whose consent was necessary before the property could be taken.” Id. (quotation marks and citation omitted). The Court determined that Hamood was an “owner” of the fixtures because his consent was necessary before these could be taken by defendant. People v. March, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued December 4, 2014 (Docket No. 317697), p. 4, 2014 WL 6859546. The Court inferred this right to “consent” from two sources. First, according to our caselaw, Hamood held equitable title to the property during the redemption period. Second, MCL 600.3278(1) provides purchasers such as Hamood a right of action against mortgagors who damage the foreclosed property during the redemption period. In light of these two sources of law, the Court concluded that “the items that defendant allegedly removed from the home were at least partially the ‘property of another,’ ” and therefore that “the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing the larceny and possession of stolen property charges against defendant....” Id.

886 N.W.2d 402

The Court also held that fixtures are proper subjects of larceny because once severed they become personal property. Id. at 5. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

We heard oral argument on the application under MCR 7.302(H)(1) on the following two questions:

(1) whether the removal of fixtures by a mortgagor from the mortgaged premises after a sheriff's sale but prior to the expiration of the redemption period may subject the mortgagor to criminal liability for larceny; and (2) whether fixtures taken from real property may be the
499 Mich. 397
subject of larceny under MCL 750.356(1). [People v. March, 497 Mich. 1041, 864 N.W.2d 144 (2015).]

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A trial court's decision to quash an information is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. People v. Dowdy, 489 Mich. 373, 379, 802 N.W.2d 239 (2011). An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court “chooses an outcome that falls outside the range of principled outcomes.” People v. Musser, 494 Mich. 337, 348, 835 N.W.2d 319 (2013). However, “[t]his Court reviews de novo questions of statutory interpretation.” People v. Gardner, 482 Mich. 41, 46, 753 N.W.2d 78 (2008). Thus, “[t]o the extent that a lower court's decision on a motion to quash the information is based on an interpretation of the law, appellate review of the interpretation is de novo.” People v. Miller, 288 Mich.App. 207, 209, 795 N.W.2d 156 (2010), citing People v. Stone, 463 Mich. 558, 561, 621 N.W.2d 702 (2001).

III. ANALYSIS

We begin as always by examining the language of the relevant statute, MCL 750.360. As will become clear below, this language leads us in turn to the common-law background of larceny, which we then must also examine.

A. INTERPRETATION

The resolution of this case depends on the proper interpretation of MCL 750.360, which criminalizes larceny in a building. “The Court's responsibility in interpreting a statute is to determine and give effect to the Legislature's intent.” People v. Lowe, 484 Mich. 718, 721, 773 N.W.2d 1 (2009). The statute is the

499 Mich. 398

touchstone for determining the Legislature's intent, for “we presume that the Legislature intended the meaning clearly expressed—no further judicial construction is required or permitted and the statute must be enforced as written.” People v. Morey, 461 Mich. 325, 330, 603 N.W.2d 250 (1999). We must give “plain meaning to the words actually used” in a statute. People v. Williams, 491 Mich. 164, 175, 814 N.W.2d 270 (2012). Accordingly, when a statute fails to define a term, “we presume that the Legislature intended for the words to have their ordinary meaning.” People v. Hardy, 494 Mich. 430, 440, 835 N.W.2d 340 (2013) ; see also MCL 8.3a.

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75 practice notes
  • Rafaeli, LLC v. Oakland Cnty., Docket No. 156849
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 17, 2020
    ...purchaser's deed does not vest until the redemption period ends. See MCL 600.3240(1) and (2) ; MCL 600.3236. See also People v. March , 499 Mich. 389, 416-421, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016).50 As described in the Restatement Property, 3d, Mortgages, § 3.1, comment a , the "concept [of equitable red......
  • People v. Caddell, No. 343750
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • April 9, 2020
    ...of discretion occurs when the trial court ‘chooses an outcome that falls outside the range of principled outcomes.’ " People v. March , 499 Mich. 389, 397, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016) (citation omitted).955 N.W.2d 497 "A mistrial should be granted only where the error complained of is so egregiou......
  • United States v. Mills, Case No. 16-cr-20460
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • April 30, 2019
    ...known meaning at common law." Iliades v. Dieffenbacher N.A. Inc., 501 Mich. 326, 915 N.W.2d 338, 343 (2018) (quoting People v. March, 499 Mich. 389, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016) ). Michigan common law, in turn, defines an "assault" as either an "attempted battery" or "an act that would cause a rea......
  • People v. Rogers, No. 346348
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • January 7, 2020
    ...are reviewed for an abuse of discretion." People v. Dowdy , 489 Mich. 373, 379, 802 N.W.2d 239 (2011), see also People v. March , 499 Mich. 389, 397, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016) ("A trial court's decision to quash an information is reviewed for an abuse of discretion."). "An abuse of discretion o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
76 cases
  • Rafaeli, LLC v. Oakland Cnty., Docket No. 156849
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 17, 2020
    ...purchaser's deed does not vest until the redemption period ends. See MCL 600.3240(1) and (2) ; MCL 600.3236. See also People v. March , 499 Mich. 389, 416-421, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016).50 As described in the Restatement Property, 3d, Mortgages, § 3.1, comment a , the "concept [of equitable red......
  • People v. Caddell, No. 343750
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • April 9, 2020
    ...of discretion occurs when the trial court ‘chooses an outcome that falls outside the range of principled outcomes.’ " People v. March , 499 Mich. 389, 397, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016) (citation omitted).955 N.W.2d 497 "A mistrial should be granted only where the error complained of is so egregiou......
  • United States v. Mills, Case No. 16-cr-20460
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • April 30, 2019
    ...known meaning at common law." Iliades v. Dieffenbacher N.A. Inc., 501 Mich. 326, 915 N.W.2d 338, 343 (2018) (quoting People v. March, 499 Mich. 389, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016) ). Michigan common law, in turn, defines an "assault" as either an "attempted battery" or "an act that would cause a rea......
  • People v. Rogers, No. 346348
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • January 7, 2020
    ...are reviewed for an abuse of discretion." People v. Dowdy , 489 Mich. 373, 379, 802 N.W.2d 239 (2011), see also People v. March , 499 Mich. 389, 397, 886 N.W.2d 396 (2016) ("A trial court's decision to quash an information is reviewed for an abuse of discretion."). "An abuse of discretion o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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