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Evans v. Michigan

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: February 20, 2013
Case #: 11-1327
Sotomayor, J., delivered the Court's opinion which Roberts, C.J., and Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Alito, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1327_7648.pdf

Constitutional Law: The Double Jeopardy Clause bars retrial after an acquittal regardless of whether the acquittal was erroneous.

Petitioner was charged with “burning other real property.” Following the State’s case-in-chief, Petitioner moved for a directed verdict and erroneously stated that an element of the crime was that the burned property must be “not a dwelling house." The trial court found that the State failed to prove this “element” and granted Petitioner's motion.

On appeal, the state appellate court reversed the directed verdict on the basis of the error in the trial court and remanded for retrial, dismissing Petitioner's claims of double-jeopardy under the United States and Michigan Constitutions. The Michigan Supreme Court affirmed holding that a directed verdict based on an error of law that does not resolve a factual element of the offense is not an acquittal for double-jeopardy purposes.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the acquittal, although based on error, bars retrial under the Double Jeopardy Clause because “[a] mistaken acquittal is an acquittal nonetheless” and that the decision could not be reviewed without twice putting Petitioner in jeopardy in violation of the Constitution.