US Supreme Court releases decision

A new development from the Supreme Court of the United States was released to the public earlier this week. In Evans v. Michigan, No. 11-1327, the Supreme Court granted cert this morning to decide whether a court's directed verdict or judgment of acquittal issued at the close of the prosecution's case bars retrial on double jeopardy grounds when that JOA was granted under a misapprehension by the court as to the elements of the charged offense. In Evans, Lamar Evans was charged by the state of Michigan with "burning other real property" for his role in starting a fire in a vacant house. At the conclusion of the prosecutions' case he moved for a directed verdict, arguing that a necessary element of the burning of other real property is that the building was not a dwelling, and that the prosecution's evidence proved that the building burned in his case was a dwelling. The court agreed and granted defendant's motion. The state appealed and the Michigan Supreme Court held that the trial court was mistaken -- the prosecution was not required to prove that the building was not a dwelling. And under these circumstances, the court held -- that is, when a trial court grants a defendant's motion for a directed verdict on the basis of an error of law that did not resolve any factual element of the charged offense -- the trial court's ruling does not constitute an acquittal for the purposes of double jeopardy and retrial is therefore not barred.

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