On January 29, 2019, the American Freedom Law Center filed an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals in its case representing four pro-lifers who were arrested, charged, and convicted for engaging in a Red Rose Rescue at an abortion center in the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan.
In this appeal, AFLC is seeking to make case law that will assist pro-lifers in the future. More specifically, in the petition, AFLC seeks appellate court review of the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on two viable defenses to the trespass charge: the defense of necessity and the defense of others.
In the petition, AFLC argues:
A criminal defendant has a state and federal constitutional right to present a defense. . . . Instructional errors that directly affect a criminal defendant’s theory of defense infringe her due process right to present a defense, warranting a new trial.
In this case, prior to the commencement of their jury trial for criminal trespass, Defendants filed a motion requesting jury instructions on two related and relevant defenses: necessity and defense of others.
[T]he necessity defense has long been recognized under the common law, and it is particularly applicable in the context of this case in light of Michigan law and Michigan’s strong public policy favoring the protection of human life. Related to the defense of necessity is the defense of others, which also has application in the context of this case under Michigan law.
The lower court refused to provide the requested instructions, thereby depriving Defendants of their due process right to present a defense.
AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert J. Muise, who is representing the pro-lifers, commented:
“These proceedings reminded me of a passage from the Gospel of St. John, which reads as follows: ‘And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.’ Our clients live the truth and come to the light. Their works, while considered ‘criminal’ by secular authority, are clearly seen as done in God.”
Muise stated that if the Michigan Court of Appeals refuses to review this case, he is prepared to take the next step: review in the Michigan Supreme Court.