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Michigan Case Could Help Define Entrapment
The case of a Pontiac police officer nailed in a drug sting 10
ago has finally made it to the Michigan Supreme Court. This
set Michigan's standard for how far cops can go in
Former officer Jessie Johnson was fired, even though the case
went to trial. In 1992, Johnson was charged with a pair of
two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to
distribute. The case
has been working its way through the court
system ever since.
Early on, Oakland Circuit Judge David Breck dismissed the charges,
that an undercover operation entrapped Johnson. Prosecutors
appealed the decision.
Supreme Court arguments are the culmination of the process, and
change the guidelines for how entrapment is decided in Michigan
Michigan courts currently use an "objective test," which tries to
police from creating a crime where none would have occurred,
whether someone was entrapped.
But the state Supreme Court asked both sides if Michigan should
the "subjective test" -- used by federal courts and most other
to decide if police have crossed the line. The federal
on what the accused was thinking -- in short,
whether police lured a noncriminal
into committing a crime.
Both the defendant and the prosecutor in Johnson's case favor
with the present rule. So does Michigan Attorney General
in a friend of the court brief.
But the prosecution argues that Johnson's arrest was proper under
Michigan standard. Frankel said Tuesday's arguments focused
mostly on the
According to court documents, Pontiac police got a tip that
was running a crack house on Florence Street and then asked
to take over the investigation. An undercover officer
posed as a drug supplier
and offered to pay Johnson for protection.
On one occasion Johnson acted as a bodyguard and watched while the
bought a bag of cocaine from another undercover officer,
according to the
documents. Then Johnson allegedly took the bag of
drugs himself to guard
against a possible rip-off.
The documents said Johnson participated in two more drug deals as
collecting $2,000 for his work. Breck said the undercover cops
a more serious crime of possession by handing the drugs to
he only agreed to stand guard.
The court's decision should be announced by the end of July.
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