The Michigan Supreme Court issued its Opinion on June 28, 2022 extending fundamentally important criminal law protections provided by preliminary examinations in state court felony cases to those who like my client in this case are accused by a “one-man grand jury." The charges in this and related cases alleged criminal violations by state employees or officials arising from the complex circumstances of the Flint Water Crisis.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in Peeler affirms the importance of procedural safeguards, like preliminary examinations, in all criminal proceedings; that “adherence to proper procedure serves as a guarantee to the general public that Michigan’s courts can be trusted to produce fair and impartial rulings for all defendant, regardless of the severity of the charged crime.”
The unique “one - man grand jury” procedure used in this case is referred to in the Opinion as a deviation from those protections, as “a Star Chamber comeback.” The procedure was used in this case to investigate in secret and to file an indictment that required a trial without a preliminary examination.
A preliminary examination, on the other hand requires the presence of the accused, permits cross-examination of defense witnesses and allows the defendant’s challenge to the prosecution case before a required trial.
The same opinion also holds in the case on another defendant charged by the same “one-man grand jury” that the state law used to empower the judge to act as a “one-man grand juror” did not authorize the judge to use an indictment to charge criminal offenses.
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