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BlogsPublications | June 22, 2016
2 minute read

Newly created police ballistics report is not grounds for granting a remand to district court to continue preliminary examination

There are several recognized grounds for a circuit court remand to district court for a continued preliminary examination in a criminal case, but the release of a newly prepared police ballistics report is not one of them.   The Michigan Court of Appeals recently established this in the consolidated cases of People v. Taylor, No. 330497, and People v. Watkins, No. 330499, holding the circuit court erred in remanding the case to the district court, even though the police ballistics report created after the preliminary examination would have been useful in cross examination.

The ballistics report created after the preliminary examination showed that at least three guns were used during the incident for which defendants were charged, contradicting testimony of a key witness at the preliminary examination who testified that he heard only one gun fired. Defendants argued that this report tended to show defendant Edward Lee Watkins could not possibly have fired the bullet that killed Paige Neal-Walker, and could have used it to cross-examine Watkins and other prosecution witnesses.  

The Court of Appeals rejected that as a basis for remand.  It emphasized that this case did not fall within the limited circumstances in which the circuit court may properly remand a case for new or continued preliminary examination. These limited circumstances include if a motion to quash is granted, if a defect existed in the defendants’ waiver of right to preliminary examination, if the prosecutor adds a new charge or if there was a violation of one of the rules governing the conduct of preliminary examination or the probable cause determination.

In addition to denying the defendants’ motions to quash, the circuit court found no relevant errors in the preliminary examination or the probable cause determination. Since the circuit court upheld the district court’s finding of probable cause, the court said it was unnecessary for either the circuit court or the district court to revisit the probable cause determination.   There also was no defective waiver and no pursuit addition of new charges. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals held that the defendants did not establish any recognized grounds for remanding the case.