Youngs' perjury appeal denied

Cliff Youngs
Cliff Youngs

REED CITY — The Michigan Court of Appeals has denied former Osceola County Road Commission manager Cliff Youngs’ appeal to overturn his perjury conviction.

Young was found guilty of perjury on March 4, 2013 in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court. He was sentenced to three months in jail with two months suspended, and one year probation.

Youngs was charged with perjury for allegedly lying under oath during a sworn interview with Michigan State Police Det. Troy Fellows in March 2012. The interview was part of an investigation into claims that Youngs had altered time cards for road commission jobs to retain extra funds from project grants.

In his appeal, Youngs argued the prosecution could not charge him with perjury because that charge violated his constitutional right to testify on his own behalf.

The court of appeals acknowledged prior rulings have established the threat of perjury charges sought after a criminal trial as impermissible because they discourage the defendant from testifying on his own behalf. However, this case did not involve prosecution for perjury arising from a prior criminal trial, as it was in a sworn interview where Youngs was accused of lying.

Still, Youngs believed he should be protected from perjury charges to the same extent he would be protected had the testimony been at a criminal trial. The court, however, disagreed.

The purpose of the interview was to investigate and determine if a crime had occurred and, though the investigation wasn’t to determine guilt, it had to be conducted on the basis of assuming truth was being told under oath. In its ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals stated, “The investigative function of such a deposition would be impeded—if not completely undermined—if the prosecutor could not enforce the oath with perjury charges.”

Youngs also argued in his appeal there was not sufficient evidence to convict him of perjury beyond a reasonable doubt.

At the deposition, Young repeatedly testified he did not tell anyone at the road commission to alter their time cards. The prosecution presented testimony and evidence that, if believed, showed that Youngs had in fact told employees to alter their time cards.

Michigan Court of Appeals also denied this portion of the appeal. When reviewing the evidence that was presented, the court found reasonable inference that could be drawn from the evidence were sufficient to support Youngs’ conviction.