On May 1, 2020, amendments to MCR 6.610 took effect.   MCR 6.610 is the court rule that applies to district court proceedings.  The rule now expressly provides for discovery in misdemeanor proceedings.   Subsection E now reads:

(1) The provisions of MCR 6.201, except for MCR 6.201(A), apply in all misdemeanor proceedings.

(2) MCR 6.201(A) only applies in misdemeanor proceedings, as set forth in this subrule, if a defendant elects to request discovery pursuant to MCR 6.201(A). If a defendant requests discovery pursuant to MCR 6.201(A) and the prosecuting attorney complies, then the defendant must also comply with MCR 6.201(A).

 

The new rule requires certain information to be provided to the defendant upon request.  It also controls the timing of the disclosures and gives the district court the ability to sanction parties that do not comply with the rule.  While specifically excluding the mandatory disclosure requirements of MCR 6.201(A) for felony cases, the rule change is welcome to practitioners and criminal defendants.

Surprisingly, before this there was no rule that required the prosecutor to provide discovery in misdemeanor cases in Michigan, even though it is so fundamental to our system that defendants know the evidence being used against them.  As a practical matter, most prosecutors’ offices have provided some basic discovery.  And some prosecutors’ offices have always, and still do, charge a fee for doing so.  But this rule expands upon what is normally provided and gives both a timing requirement and enforcement mechanisms.

Practitioners should be aware of the rule and should be making appropriate requests in misdemeanor cases.  The administrative order by the Michigan Supreme Court about the rule may be found here:  https://courts.michigan.gov/Courts/MichiganSupremeCourt/rules/court-rules-admin-matters/Adopted/2018-23_2020-03-04_FormattedOrder_AmendtOfMCR6.610.pdf