Supreme Court grants application in negligent homicide case with implications for lesser-included offense jury instructions
The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the Court of Appeals’ decision striking down a statute prohibiting jury instruction in criminal cases on uncharged lesser-included offenses. For our prior post on this case, see here.
In People v. Thabo Jones, the Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling that MCL 257.626(5) is unconstitutional and requiring jury instruction on the misdemeanor of committing a moving violation causing death in a prosecution where only felony reckless-driving-causing-death was charged. The Supreme Court has asked for briefing on all of the underlying legal issues: (1) whether it violates the separation of powers provision of Michigan’s constitution for the legislature to prohibit instruction on lesser-included offenses; (2) whether the statute violates the right to a jury trial by prohibiting such an instruction; and (3) whether the misdemeanor in this case is, as a matter of law, a lesser-included offense of the charged felony. The Supreme Court also invited amici briefs.