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156827-8 - People v Terence Bruce; People v Stanley Nicholson

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Christopher Allen

 

Plaintiff-Appellant,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Jackson – Wilson, T.)

 

Terence Mitchell Bruce,

 

Rosemary Gordon Panuco

 

Defendant-Appellee.

 

_____________________________

 

 

 

 

 

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Christopher Allen

 

v

Plaintiff-Appellant,

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

(Jackson – Wilson, T)

 

Stanley Lyle Nicholson,

 

Rosemary Gordon Panuco

 

Defendant-Appellee.

 

 

Summary

In 2014, defendants Bruce and Nicholson—federal border patrol agents assigned to a task force that also included Michigan State Police and Michigan motor carrier officers—assisted a local narcotics enforcement team in executing a search warrant on two residences that were tied to a marijuana growing operation. Following the search, the tenant of the premises discovered several items of no evidentiary value missing, including a stool and an antique thermometer that he considered a family heirloom. Defendants were charged with misconduct in office, a common-law offense, and larceny in a building, a statutory felony. They moved to dismiss the misconduct in office charges, arguing that their employment as border patrol agents did not fall within the definition of employment in a “public office” for purposes of the crime of misconduct in office. The trial court denied the motions, and also denied defendants’ motions for a directed verdict, which were advanced on the same grounds. The jury convicted defendants of misconduct in office, but acquitted them of larceny. The Court of Appeals, in a split unpublished decision, vacated the convictions, agreeing with defendants that they are not public officers who could be charged with misconduct in office. The Supreme Court has granted leave to appeal to consider whether defendants were “public officers” for purposes of the common-law crime of misconduct in office when they assisted in the execution of the search warrant. ​