Michigan v. March (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether a homeowner, or another person rightfully possessing a home, 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. Defendant Timothy March was arrested and charged with such a crime. He argued in an attempt to quash the information against him that the fixtures were not the proper subject of the crime of larceny, and 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. The prosecution conceded that defendant had the right to possess the house during the redemption period, so the charges were eventually dismissed. The Court of Appeals reversed, however, finding 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.” Therefore, the sheriff's sale purchaser "owned" the fixtures because his consent was necessary before they could be taken by defendant. This "consent" ground, as deduced by the Court of Appeals in its analysis of Michigan caselaw and the applicable statutes, was incorrect, according to the Supreme Court. "The right to consent could not serve as a proxy for the right to possession, because neither of the sources of legal authority on which the court relied gives rise to the right to possession. MCL 600.3278 does not endow the purchaser with a possessory right, nor does the equitable title held by [the sheriff's sale purchaser]."