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04/26/76 PEOPLE v. ARCHIE SMITH

April 26, 1976

PEOPLE
v.
ARCHIE SMITH



Appeal from Recorder's Court of Detroit, Richard D. Dunn, J.

J. H. Gillis, P. J., and Allen and P. C. Elliott,* JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Searches and Seizures -- Search Without Warrant -- Constitutional Law -- Fourth Amendment -- Shared Apartment -- Voluntariness -- Plain View.

The seizure of three items from a defendant's apartment did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights, although the police did not have a search warrant, where the defendant's apartment was shared with his grandmother and cousin and where the first item was owned by the grandmother and voluntarily given by her to police, the second item was located in the cousin's bedroom and voluntarily given by the cousin to police, and the third item was in plain view.

2. -- Evidence -- Foundation Evidence -- Inadmissibility -- Instructions to Jury -- Limiting Instruction -- Request -- Prejudice.

A trial Judge's failure to give sua sponte a limiting instruction regarding foundation evidence which had been introduced by the prosecution in an attempt to admit a certain gun was not reversible error where, although the gun was ruled inadmissible, testimony concerning the gun was not necessarily prejudicial; the defendant should have requested a curative instruction if he wanted one.

3. -- Right to Remain Silent -- Instructions to Jury -- Request.

A trial court is free to instruct the jury concerning a defendant's decision not to testify absent a request by defendant that the instruction not be given.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gillis

Archie M. Smith was convicted of first-degree murder. Defendant appealed. Reversed and remanded, 55 Mich App 184 (1974). The people appealed to the Supreme Court. Remanded to the Court of Appeals, 396 Mich 825 (1976).

ON REMAND

In August, 1974, we reversed defendant's first-degree murder conviction because the trial Judge refused to instruct the jury on the possible lesser included offenses of first-degree murder. People v Smith, 55 Mich App 184; 222 NW2d 172 (1974). Subsequent to our decision, the Michigan Supreme Court set aside defendant's first-degree murder conviction and ordered entry of a judgment of conviction for second-degree murder. People v Archie Smith, 396 Mich 825 (1976). The case was then remanded to this Court for "consideration of defendant's untreated assignments of error".

Defendant first contends that police officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by engaging in a warrantless search of his apartment. Defendant shared the living quarters with his grandmother and cousin. The grandmother voluntarily turned her own gun over to the police, and the cousin voluntarily turned over clothes, located in her own bedroom, to the police. The record indicates that these actions were totally voluntary, despite the fact that the two women were not informed that they had a right to refuse the police officers' request. Schneckloth v Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218; 93 S Ct 2041; 36 L Ed 2d 854 (1973). The radio seized from the apartment was in plain view.

Defendant also argues that reversal is required because of the trial Judge's failure to sua sponte give a limiting instruction in regard to foundation evidence introduced in an attempt to admit defendant's grandmother's gun into evidence. We disagree. The trial Judge ultimately decided not to admit the gun into evidence; this choice is a matter of his discretion. However, the fact that the gun was ruled inadmissible does not necessarily mean that any testimony concerning the gun was prejudicial. In the instant case, the fact that the gun was similar to the murder weapon arguably was sufficient evidence to have allowed its admission into evidence, People v Kelly, 386 Mich 330; 192 NW2d 494 (1971), especially in light of the fact that the jury would have been free to disregard the grandmother's testimony that defendant had no ...


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