In Smitter v Thornapple Township, Case No. 144354, the Court granted leave to appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The Court previously had considered an application for leave to appeal an earlier order from the Court of Appeals, and had, in lieu of granting, remanded this case to the Court of Appeals for consideration as on leave granted. The case involves questions of coordinating statutory workers’ compensation benefits with other insurance. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Worker’s Compensation Appellate Commission holding that the Second Injury Fund may not reduce its reimbursement to the township to reflect the township’s unexercised right to coordinate benefits.
In People v Franklin, No. 142323, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. We previously discussed the case here. In that case, Mr. Franklin was convicted in a bench trial of first-degree home invasion, larceny of a building, and larceny of a firearm. Mr. Franklin previously had pleaded guilty to the second-degree home invasion charge, but the trial court had set aside his plea because it contained a sentencing provision the court refused to enforce.
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court was not bound to accept the sentence portion of the plea agreement, but the trial court could not unilaterally set aside the plea itself. Instead, it held that under MCR 6.310(B)(2), the trial court was required to provide Mr. Franklin with an opportunity to affirm or withdraw the plea. The Court of Appeals accordingly vacated the conviction.
On leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed. It held that the Court of Appeals correctly interpreted MCR 6.130(B)(2). It further held, however, that the trial court had not plainly erred in not affording Mr. Franklin the opportunity to affirm or withdraw his plea because People v Grove, 455 Mich 439 (1997), authorized the trial court to reject the plea agreement and subject the defendant to trial over his objection. The Court held that Grove was superseded by MCR 6.130(B), so in the future such error will be plain, but that it was not plain error on the part of the trial court not to realize it. The Court further noted that, even if it was plain error for the trial court to deny Mr. Franklin the opportunity to affirm his plea as required by the new court rule, the Court had discretion not to reverse his convictions because he did not sufficiently object to the error, and he should not be permitted to “harbor error as an appellate parachute.” For these reasons the Court reversed.