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154684 - People v Kareem Amid Swilley, Jr

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Joseph Albosta

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Saginaw – Borchard, F.)

 

Kareem Amid Swilley, Jr.,

 

Imran Syed

 

Defendant-Appellant.

 

​​

Summary

Defendant, a juvenile, and his two adult codefendants were charged with multiple felonies, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for their alleged involvement in a shooting from a vehicle that resulted in one death. At the joint jury trial, the trial judge extensively questioned certain prosecution witnesses. The jury convicted defendant of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and other felonies. On appeal, defendant argued that the judge’s questioning of witnesses pierced the veil of judicial impartiality. The Court of Appeals affirmed defendant’s convictions, holding that, although the judge’s questioning of two witnesses may have unintentionally exhibited some doubt as to their credibility, the totality of the circumstances did not lead to the conclusion that defendant was deprived of a fair trial. The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on defendant’s application for leave to appeal to address whether it is reasonably likely that the trial judge’s questioning of witnesses improperly influenced the jury by creating the appearance of advocacy or partiality against a party.  See People v Stevens, 498 Mich 162 (2015).​