Court Allows MMMA Evidence at Trial


Case: People v. Trzos

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Issues:

Interlocutory appeal; Motion in limine to preclude defendant from presenting evidence as to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) (MCL 333.26421 et seq.) & claims of entrapment previously raised by defendant & rejected by the trial court; Relevance; People v. Henry; People v. Aldrich; People v. Meissner; MRE 403; People v. Mardlin; Mitchell v. Kalamazoo Anesthesiology, PC; Res gestae; People v. Bostic; People v. Delgado; People v. Sholl; People v. Jackson; § 8 of the MMMA; MCL 333.26428; People v. Kolanek; Whether People v. Danto demonstrated that the trial court abused its discretion; People v. Kayne

Summary:

The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by not excluding reference to the MMMA, reference to the marijuana as medicinal, and evidence that defendant was a caregiver and/or patient. However, it held that the trial court erred by not excluding evidence and argument that he believed he was in compliance with the law because that evidence was not part of the res gestae of the crime and was irrelevant. The prosecution contended that the trial court erred in denying its motion to preclude defendant from presenting evidence relating to the MMMA, references to marijuana as “medical,” his status as a patient or primary caregiver under the MMMA, and his alleged belief in the legality of his actions. The court disagreed with the exception of references to his belief in the legality of his actions. The trial court ruled that he failed to show the elements for a § 8 defense and that there was no material questions of fact on the issue, and that decision was not challenged on this appeal. Thus, the court assumed that this ruling as to defendant’s § 8 defense was correct, and evidence whose sole purpose was “to support such a defense is inadmissible as irrelevant.” The prosecution contended that the effect of the trial court’s order was that (1) defendant will be able to present evidence related to a § 8 affirmative defense even though the trial court ruled that he would be unable to present that defense to the jury and (2) he will be allowed to present evidence of an entrapment defense despite the trial court’s earlier ruling that this defense was not available. However, the prosecution was “largely mistaken as to the effect of the trial court’s order.” In denying the prosecution’s motion in limine, it “merely refused to broadly exclude all of the challenged evidence because some of it was necessary to form” the res gestae of the crime. Though the court may have decided differently under a strictly de novoreview, its review was for an abuse of discretion, and it could not “conclude that the trial court’s decision to not exclude all references to the MMMA, references to the marijuana was medicinal, and evidence that defendant was a caregiver and/or patient, was outside the range of reasonable and principled outcomes. Some evidence related to these categories was necessary” to provide the jury with the “complete story,” or “the full context,” of the facts. The court’s decision was “based, in large part, on the fact that the evidence that the prosecution seeks to exclude is overly broad.” Reversed in part and affirmed in part.

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