A Michigan trial court granted defendant-petitioner Lamar Evans a directed verdict of not guilty after the State of Michigan charged him with burning property because the State of Michigan failed to prove that the property Evans allegedly burned was not a dwelling. Upon appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court determined that the trial court erred when it required the State of Michigan to prove that the property was not a dwelling. Furthermore, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Double Jeopardy Clause of both the Fifth Amendment and the Michigan Constitution did not bar Evans’ retrial for the same offense because the error involved an element that was added to the offense. As a result, the directed verdict did not relate to an actual factual element of the case and therefore failed to address Evans’ guilt or innocence of the charged offense. Evans now appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States, arguing that the Michigan Supreme Court erroneously carved out a novel “Extra Element” exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause. This decision will further define the outer limits of protection that the Double Jeopardy Clause offers to defendants and the types of rulings that prosecutors can appeal.
Does the Double Jeopardy Clause bar retrial after the trial judge erroneously holds a particular fact to be an element of the offense and then grants a mid-trial directed verdict of acquittal because the prosecution failed to prove that fact?
- Kimberly Atkins, U.S. Justices to Decide if Wrongly Acquitted Defendant Can Be Retried (June 18, 2012)