Michigan Supreme Court to Consider Whether Defendant’s Right to Fair Trial was Violated by Allowance of Expert Testimony

Levon L. Bynum was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of assault with intent to murder in connection with an incident which took place in August of 2010. Bynum allegedly fired a gun during an altercation that took place outside a party store, and was ultimately charged in the shooting death of Larry Carter, one of the people involved in the altercation. Bynum maintained that he was frightened, and carried the gun for protection; he claims that he fired twice into the air as a warning as he was trying to leave the scene.

Bynum was ultimately convicted of the 2010 Battle Creek shooting death; however in April of this year, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the conviction. Bynum had argued in his appeal that expert testimony provided by a police officer who was a member of the Battle Creek Police Department’s Gang Suppression Unit violated his right to a fair trial, as the jury would be left with the impression that gang membership meant that he was guilty of the crime. Bynum was allegedly a member of a street gang known as the Boardman Boys. Bynum argued that allowance of the expert testimony was improper; the appeals court agreed, and reversed Bynum’s conviction.

Now the case has gone before the Supreme Court, who will consider whether the expert testimony provided by Officer Jim Bailey regarding gang membership was more prejudicial than probative. The Supreme Court will review the facts of the case to determine if there were errors by the trial court, and if the ruling made by the Michigan Court of Appeals to turn over Bynum’s conviction and remand the case back to court for a new trial will be upheld.

Appealing a conviction is a complex process which may or may not end well for the defendant depending on several factors, including the experience and ability of the defendant’s criminal defense attorney.

If you have been wrongly convicted or feel there are issues which may support an appeal, contact a capable Michigan criminal appeals attorney who can review your case and determine the most effective course of legal action.

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