Michigan Court of Appeals Holds Age Calculation Requires Birthday Rule Under Common Law

On February 27th, 2014, the Michigan Court of Appeals held for the first time that the common law Birthday Rule of age calculation applies in Michigan.  The Birthday Rule, as stated in an 1840 Delaware decision, declares that:

A person is “of the age of twenty-one years” the day before the twenty-first anniversary of his birth day. It is not necessary that he shall have entered upon his birth day, or he would be more than twenty-one years old. He is, therefore, of age the day before the anniversary of his birth; and, as the law takes no notice of fractions of a day, he is necessarily of age the whole of the day before his twenty-first birth day; and upon any and every moment of that day may do any act which any man may lawfully do.

The Court of Appeals addressed the issue in the context of an appeal from a first-degree murder conviction by a juvenile in the case of People v. Woolfolk, Docket No. 312056.  The Court of Appeals, in light of a recent United States Supreme Court decision holding that mandatory sentences of life in prison without the chance at parole are unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, considered differences between our present time calculation standards and the time calculation standards used by courts in light of common-law rules.