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AG Nessel Applauds COA Ruling Related to Ethnic Intimidation Against Transgender Individuals

LANSING - Today, in People v Deonton Rogers, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan's ethnic intimidation statute protects individuals who are targeted because of their gender, including intimidation against transgender individuals. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel previously filed amicus briefs in the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court supporting this outcome.  

"The transgender community is at heightened risk for intimidation and bias-based crimes, and I applaud the Court for making clear that gender intimidation includes intimidation based on a person being transgender," Nessel said. "I also want to thank Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Fair Michigan Justice Project for their dedication to protecting vulnerable communities from violence by pursuing this important case." 

In the case, defendant Deonton Rogers is alleged to have intimidated and threatened a transgender woman as she entered a gas station in 2018 in Detroit. Rogers allegedly prodded her with insulting remarks, showed her that he had a gun, and threatened to kill her. The victim believed Rogers to be serious and attempted to pull the gun away; the gun went off, hitting the victim in the shoulder and requiring her hospitalization.  

After Rogers was bound over on an ethnic intimidation charge, among others, the circuit court quashed it. On appeal, and contrary to Nessel's position in her arguments to the Court, the Court of Appeals initially agreed that Rogers' conduct did not fall within the ethnic intimidation statute. Ultimately, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling. Nessel filed an amicus brief in the Michigan Supreme Court prior to that ruling. 

Today, the Court of Appeals changed course, holding in part that a "plain reading of the statute would dictate that, whenever a complainant's gender was the impetus for the intimidating or harassing behavior, the conduct falls within the ethnic-intimidation statute."   

Thus, the Court of Appeals reinstated the ethnic intimidation charge and remanded for further proceedings. 

"Incidents like these are unfortunately far too common in the transgender community," Nessel said.  "Since taking office, I have fought for all Michiganders - especially those who are often the target of hate crimes. This ruling supports that priority and reinforces our most basic and fundamental protections under the law." 

Most recently, in June, Nessel declared unconstitutional a state law requiring "sex-reassignment surgery" to change the sex designation on a birth certificate in Attorney General Opinion #7313. She also enacted a department-wide Transgender Policy that same month. 

The Court of Appeals' remand ruling issued this morning , as well as the concurring opinion are online

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Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty