Michigan v. Hughes (Opinion - Leave Granted)Annotate this Case
In three consolidated cases, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the question of whether defendants’ false statements made while serving as law enforcement officers during an internal affairs investigation could be used against them in criminal proceedings. This case arose out of a "disturbing" encounter between Dajuan Hodges-Lamar and defendants, who at the time were police officers for the city of Detroit. While on duty in November 2009, defendant Hughes approached Hodges-Lamar while he was seated in a car at a gas station. Hughes initially appeared to question Hodges-Lamar, but quickly proceeded to assault him while defendants Harris and Little, who were also on duty, stood by and did nothing to stop the assault. Hodges-Lamar filed a complaint with the Detroit Police Department, which spurred an internal investigation by the Detroit Police Department’s Office of the Chief Investigator (OCI). All three defendants were called to testify at a Garrity hearing. The OCI presented defendants with an advice-of-rights form drafted by the Detroit Police Department. All three defendants made false statements at the Garrity hearing. Defendants Harris and Little denied that Hughes had any physical contact with Hodges-Lamar. Hughes admitted that he removed Hodges-Lamar from Hodges-Lamar’s car during questioning, but Hughes maintained that he did not use any unnecessary force against Hodges-Lamar. A video recording of the incident surfaced after defendants had made their statements, wholly at odds with the statements provided by defendants. Hughes was charged with common-law felony misconduct in office, misdemeanor assault and battery, and obstruction of justice. Defendants Harris and Little were each charged with one count of common-law obstruction of justice. Defendants brought motions in district court to dismiss the obstruction-of-justice charges. The district court concluded that defendants’ statements were protected by the disclosures by law enforcement officers act (DLEOA), even if the information provided was false or misleading. The court determined that without defendants’ statements the obstruction-of-justice charges could not be sustained and dismissed those charges. The prosecution appealed in the circuit court, which concluded that the district court had not abused its discretion by dismissing the obstruction-of-justice charges. The Court of Appeals reversed, but the Supreme Court found no error in the district court's dismissal, and reinstated that court's judgment.