Stephen J. Markman, Chief Justice Brian K. Zahra Bridget M.
McCormack David F. Viviano Richard H. Bernstein Kurtis T.
Wilder Elizabeth T. Clement, Justices
order of the Court, leave to appeal having been granted and
the briefs and oral arguments of the parties having been
considered by the Court, we REVERSE the judgment of the Court
of Appeals and REINSTATE the Wayne Circuit Court's order
removing defendant from the sex offender registry on the
basis that requiring him to register violates due process.
U.S. Const, Am XIV; Const 1963, art 1, § 17.
March 4, 1994, defendant pleaded guilty as charged to one
count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation
of MCL 750.520c(1)(a) and was sentenced as a youthful trainee
under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), MCL 762.11
et seq., to a 3-year term of probation. HYTA
provides that when a criminal defendant between the ages of
17 and 20 pleads guilty to certain crimes, a trial court may
"without entering a judgment of conviction and with the
consent of that individual, consider and assign that
individual to the status of youthful trainee." MCL
762.11(1). The statute in effect at the time of
defendant's plea further provided that "[a]n
assignment of an individual to the status of youthful trainee
as provided in this chapter is not a conviction for a crime,
and the individual assigned to the status of youthful trainee
shall not suffer a civil disability or loss of right
or privilege following his or her release from that status
because of his or her assignment as a youthful trainee."
MCL 762.14(2), as amended by 1993 PA 293 (emphasis added).
does not claim that he was promised assignment as a youthful
trainee in exchange for his guilty plea. Cf. Santobello v
New York, 404 U.S. 257, 262 (1971) ("[W]hen a plea
rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of
the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the
inducement or consideration, such promise must be
fulfilled."). Rather, he claims that he was induced by
HYTA to plead guilty because the statute offered him
potential benefits for pleading guilty that he could not
otherwise have obtained had he exercised his constitutional
right to a trial. See generally Corbitt v New
Jersey, 439 U.S. 212 (1978) (implicitly recognizing that
a statute alone can induce a plea). We believe that the
Santobello principle applies with equal force to a
statutory provision, such as HYTA, that induces a defendant
to plead guilty by offering him certain benefits if he does
so and satisfies other statutory conditions.
case, defendant was screened and presumably deemed eligible
for youthful trainee status before entering his guilty plea,
and thus it is clear that such a disposition was contemplated
by the parties. While he had no entitlement to assignment as
a youthful trainee, there can be little doubt that the
possibility of a HYTA discharge was "one of the
principal benefits sought by defendant [in] deciding
whether to [plead guilty] or instead to proceed to
trial." INS v St Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 323 (2001).
Indeed, in light of the fact that defendant pleaded guilty to
the principal charge, it appears this may have been the only
motivation for his decision to waive his right to a trial and
defendant pleaded guilty, the Legislature enacted the Sex
Offender Registration Act (SORA), MCL 28.721 et
seq., which retroactively defined defendant's
completion of youthful training as a conviction and required
him to register under the act and to comply with the
obligations imposed on such registrants. 1994 PA 295. It is
undisputed that registration under SORA constitutes a civil
disability. Although the Legislature may retroactively attach
civil consequences to a conviction, see Hawker v New
York, 170 U.S. 189 (1898), here defendant pleaded guilty
in reasonable reliance on the possibility of receiving a
sentence under HYTA and benefitting from its express promise
that upon successful completion of his youthful training, he
would not have a conviction on his record or suffer any
related civil disabilities.
defendant pleaded guilty on the basis of the inducement
provided in HYTA as effective in 1994 (i.e., before
SORA's effective date), was assigned to HYTA training by
the trial judge, and successfully completed his HYTA
training, retroactive application of SORA deprived defendant
of the benefits under HYTA to which he was entitled and
therefore violated his constitutional right to due process.
U.S. Const, Am XIV; Const 1963, art 1, § 17. See
Jideonwo v Immigration & Naturalization Serv,
224 F.3d 692, 700 n 7 (CA 7, 2000) (noting that "where
retroactive application of a statute disturbs settled
expectations based on the state of the law upon which a party
relied at the time an action was taken such that
'manifest injustice' would result, the Due Process
Clause prohibits retroactive application of the law.").
motion of plaintiff-appellee to add an appendix to its
supplemental brief is GRANTED.
Wilder, J. (dissenting).
respectfully dissent from this Court's order reversing
the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstating the
trial court's order removing defendant from the sex
offender registry. I write separately because I would have
remanded the case to the trial court to further develop the
factual record to determine (1) whether, at the time of his
plea, defendant was promised benefits derived from his
assignment to and subsequent release from youthful trainee
status under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), MCL
762.11 et seq., and (2) whether he was
actually induced to plead guilty as a result of that
promise. In my view, the record before us is insufficient to
conclude, at this stage, that a violation of defendant's
due process rights has occurred.
comport with due process, a defendant's guilty plea must
be voluntary, knowing, and made " 'with sufficient
awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely
consequences.' " People v Cole, 491 Mich.
325, 333 (2012), quoting Brady v United States, 397
U.S. 742, 748 (1970). Moreover, "when a plea rests in
any significant degree on a promise" such that
the promise is "part of the inducement or
consideration" for the plea, "the essence of
th[at] promise must in some way
be made known" and the promise "must be
fulfilled." Santobello v New York, 404 U.S.
257, 261-262 (1971) (emphasis added).
review of a defendant's guilty plea is a
"necessarily limited and record-circumscribed inquiry .
. . ." People v Taylor, 383 Mich. 338, 360
(1970). The starting point for evaluating the voluntariness
of a defendant's guilty plea is the "verbatim
record" of the guilty-plea proceeding made
contemporaneously in the trial court. MCR 6.302(F).
"Normally, where a defendant states on the record that
no promises, inducements, coercion, or other undue influences
have been offered to him or brought to bear upon him, he will
be held to his record denial." People v Weir,
111 Mich.App. 360, 361 (1981).
trial court has the responsibility of deciding whether the
defendant's plea was induced by an unfulfilled promise,
and its finding should not be overturned unless it is clearly
erroneous. People v Hall, 399 Mich. 288, 291 (1976)
(holding that "[i]t was the circuit judge's
responsibility to determine whether the plea was induced by a
promise of leniency which went unfulfilled" and that the
Court of Appeals "erred in substituting its judgment for
that of the circuit judge"); id. ("The
trial court is in the best position to determine whether or
not the plea of guilty was induced by promises of leniency
because it can observe the demeanor of the conflicting
witnesses in determining their credibility.") (quotation
marks and citation omitted); see also People v
Belanger, 73 Mich.App. 438, 450-451 (1977) ("The
trial court is best equipped to determine whether the
defendant's guilty plea was induced by promises of
leniency since it held an evidentiary hearing on the matter
and had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the
witnesses and determine their ...