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153324 - People v Roderick Louis Pippen

The People of the State of Michigan,
Thomas M. Chambers
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Wayne – Kenny, T.)
Roderick Louis Pippen,
Katherine L. Marcuz


The defendant was arrested in 2008 after a police officer observed him and another man (Michael Hudson) both throw guns under a vehicle. It was later determined that the gun thrown by the defendant had been used during a carjacking in which the victim was fatally shot. The defendant was bound over to circuit court in 2010 on charges of first-degree felony murder, felon in possession of a firearm, and felony-firearm, but the circuit court granted his motion to dismiss the charges, finding that there was insufficient evidence presented to support the bindover. In 2011, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the evidence established probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the charged crimes. The Supreme Court denied interlocutory appellate review. The charges were reinstated and, at trial, a codefendant testified that he, the defendant, Hudson, and a fourth man were together on the night in question and that he saw the defendant shoot the victim. The jury found the defendant guilty of all charges. On the defendant’s motion for a new trial, an evidentiary hearing was held regarding his claim that appointed defense counsel rendered ineffective representation by failing to call Hudson as a defense witness at trial.  The trial court held that the defendant had failed to establish that counsel was ineffective where the trial strategy not to call Hudson was reasonable. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument to address whether the defendant was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to adequately investigate and present the testimony of a witness who was present at the time of the alleged offense.