Michigan v. Hall (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
Defendant Brandon Hall was hired by a prospective judicial candidate to gather nominating signatures of qualified voters in the 2012 election for the 58th District Court. By the evening before the May 1, 2012 deadline to file the nominating petitions, defendant had not gathered the 1,000 signatures necessary to nominate the candidate. That night, defendant filled in blank nominating petitions with false names and addresses and then signed the petitions with those false names. Defendant was aware that false elector names and signatures appeared on the petitions but nonetheless signed each as the circulator, certifying that each petition had been properly circulated and actually signed by qualified voters. The petitions were ultimately filed with the Bureau of Elections on May 1. The State charged defendant with 10 counts of forgery under MCL 168.937, bringing a separate felony count for each of the 10 forged nominating petitions. Defendant was arraigned on these charges. The prosecutor moved to bind the case over to the Ottawa Circuit Court for trial, and defendant objected. Defendant argued that the stipulated facts accepted by the district court supported only misdemeanor charges under MCL 168.544c. After a hearing on the motion, the district court denied the motion to bind defendant over for trial on the felony charges. The district court concluded that MCL 168.937 only imposed felony liability for prohibited conduct expressly identified as “forgery” elsewhere in the Michigan Election Law. After its review, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that there was no conflict between MCL 168.544c and MCL 168.937. Instead, the Legislature has provided differing punishments for two distinct offenses, and each applied independently to prohibit defendant’s conduct. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded this case to the 58th District Court for further proceedings.