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Can Adultery Mean Life in the Pokey?


Don’t you just love sarcastic judges who take the law to its logical extremes to prove a point and take personal digs at prosecutors? I know I do. And that makes Judge William Murphy of the Michigan Court of Appeals my new hero for the week.

Here’s the story: Apparently, there is still an antiquiated law on the books in Michigan which makes it a crime, punishable up to life in prison, for having an adulterous affair.

So, with that as context, the case in question involves Lloyd Waltonen, who traded prescription Oxycontin to a cocktail waitress for sex. A circuit court judge sentenced Waltonen to 20 years in prison for the offense, but dismissed four counts of criminal sexual conduct, based on the fact that the sex was consensual.

After that, Attorney General Mike Cox’s office triggered an appeal, asking for a harsher sentence based on a Michigan law which stated that sexual acts committed at the same time as a felony constituted criminal sexual conduct.

In Murphy’s court opinion, he (seemingly reluctantly) agreed, noting that although the statute was probably intended to apply to violent felonies involving forced sex, he was “curtailed by the language of the statute from reaching any other conclusion.” Murphy is a liberal, not keen on a strict interpretation, so he took a not-so-subtle swipe at Cox in a footnote. Last year, Cox admitted to an adulterous affair, so Murphy wrote that — technically — anyone who engages “in sexual penetration in an adulterous relationship” could be found guilty of first-degree criminal misconduct.

Although he didn’t include it in the footnote, I’m sure Murphy intended to include this proviso at the end of it: “Snap!”

Hat Tip to the Illustrious Bashman.