Michigan v. Steanhouse (Opinion - Leave Granted)Annotate this Case
Alexander Steanhouse was convicted by jury for assault with intent to commit murder (AWIM), and receiving and concealing stolen property. The court departed from the sentencing guidelines’ recommended minimum range and sentenced Steanhouse to 30 to 60 years’ imprisonment for AWIM, to run concurrently with a sentence of one to five years’ imprisonment for receiving and concealing stolen property. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions but remanded under the procedure adopted in Michigan v Lockridge, 498 Mich 358 (2015), from United States v Crosby, 397 F3d 103 (CA 2, 2005), to determine whether the sentences were reasonable. Mohammad Masroor was convicted by jury on 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I), and five counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-II). The court departed from the sentencing guidelines’ recommended minimum range and imposed concurrent prison terms of 35 to 50 years for each of the CSC-I convictions and 10 to 15 years for each of the CSC-II convictions. The Court of Appeals affirmed Masroor’s convictions but ordered a Crosby remand and directed the trial court to apply the proportionality standard adopted in Steanhouse. Both defendants appealed, and the Michigan Supreme Court: (1) held the legislative sentencing guidelines are advisory in all applications; (2) held the proper inquiry when reviewing a sentence for reasonableness was whether the trial court abused its discretion by violating the “principle of proportionality” set forth in Michigan v Milbourn, 461 NW2d 1 (1990); (3) declined to import the approach to reasonableness review used by the federal courts into Michigan jurisprudence; (4) agreed with the Court of Appeals that defendant Steanhouse did not preserve his Sixth Amendment challenge to the scoring of the guidelines and that Masroor did preserve his challenge, but declined to reach the question whether Michigan v Stokes, 877 NW2d 752 (2015), correctly decided that the remedy was exactly the same regardless of whether the error was preserved or unpreserved in light of the fact that both defendants received departure sentences, and that, therefore, neither defendant can show any harm from the application of the mandatory guidelines; (5) reversed, in part, the judgments of the Court of Appeals in both cases to the extent they remanded to the trial court for further sentencing proceedings under United States v Crosby, 397 F3d 103 (CA 2, 2005), finding the proper approach for the Court of Appeals was to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion by violating the principle of proportionality; and (6) because of its ruling in (5), in lieu of granting leave to appeal in the defendants’ appeals the Court remanded for plenary consideration of whether the departure sentences imposed by the trial courts were reasonable under the standard articulated here.