Michigan Verdict Overturned After Judge Gives Jury No Option For a Finding of Not Guilty

bildeWayne County Circuit Judge Annette Berry had a jury form that only a prosecutor would love: it had not option for a verdict of “not guilty.” The error has resulted in the Michigan Court of Appeals overturning the conviction of Michael Jess Wade, 50, a former security guard who was convicted of shooting and killing a suspected thief.

Appellate Judges William Whitbeck, Peter O’Connell and Donald Owens held “We … conclude that the verdict form was defective, requiring reversal, because it did not give the jury the opportunity to return a general verdict of not guilty. We note that the verdict form would not have been defective if it had included a box through which the jury could have found defendant not guilty of second-degree murder and not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Despite the trial court’s efforts to clarify the verdict form with its instructions, because of the way the verdict form was set up, the jury was not given the opportunity to find defendant either generally not guilty or not guilty of the lesser-included offenses in violation of his constitutional right to a trial by jury.”

While Berry’s form did give jurors a not-guilty choice for the first-degree murder charge, it omitted the option of finding Wade generally not guilty or not guilty of the lesser offenses of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter.

There appeared to be confusion about the form when the foreman spoke to Berry but Berry reportedly cut off the foreman and said, “Just tell me which box you checked.” The court of appeals just checked the box “overturned.”

The case itself was somewhat interesting. Wade worked at an impound lot for a decade and discovered Edward Browder, 51, breaking into cars. Browder had a record of such thefts at this lot and had broken into the lot through a hole in the fence. Wade said that he fired a warning shot with his shotgun that ricocheted, broke apart and struck Browder in the back. He also said the Browder threw something at him. A medical examiner contradicted the testimony that said that Browder was killed by two direct shots to the back and one that ricocheted. Wade was accused of moving the body to a road to hide the offense.

A guard cannot use lethal force to protect property and can only use such force to protect oneself when faced with a comparable threat. The same rule applies in torts. In this case, the examiner said that Browder was running away.

For the full story, click here.

8 thoughts on “Michigan Verdict Overturned After Judge Gives Jury No Option For a Finding of Not Guilty”

  1. [youtube=://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4194796183168750014&ei=-2DaSfKDMYH4-wGkkZydBQ&q=September+11+]

  2. CCD,

    I haven’t seen that particular report yet, but I have been aware of the discovery of evidence of thermate since 2006 when Steven Jones first started discussing it.

    If you google up ‘steven jones thermate’ you’ll find a few videos from 2006 discussing the dust and material donated to Jones where they first found the physical evidence. Again, he was calling it thermate (much more volitile), not thermite.

    BTW, your post wasn’t exactly tangential, since the torture/war crime issue is simply another example of mass self-delusion by governmental report and media blessing.

    “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.”

    — Fyodor Dostoevsky



  3. Bob, Esq.:

    Tangentially, have you seen this report from the Architects and Engineers?

    Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade
    Center Catastrophe

    “Super-thermites, formed by mixing of aluminum and metal oxide nanopowders result in energy release rate by two orders of magnitude higher than similar mixtures consisting of micron size reactants” Page 19


  4. “A guard cannot use lethal force to protect property and can only use such force to protect oneself when faced with a comparable threat. The same rule applies in torts.”

    I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this rule no longer applies in the state of Texas.

    In fact, there’s a blog entry here testifying to that fact.

  5. “Wade was convicted for the Aug. 10, 2006 shooting of 51-year-old Edward Browder, after Browder entered the impound lot through a hole in a fence carrying a duffel bag of tools, the appellate court wrote in it is opinion.

    Wade, armed with a shotgun yelped for Browder to “freeze,” and fired when Browder threw a tire iron at him and took off running, the judges wrote. Wade also dumped Browder’s body on a dirt road in Salem Township, according to the judges.”

    He may get more time for dumping the body that for Involuntary Murder.

    Here is the Link: http://www.freep.com/article/20090422/NEWS02/90422077/1004/NEWS02/State+appeals+court+overturns+2007+conviction+in+fatal+shooting

  6. The Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Peter D. O’Connell is among the few who got to the appellate bench the old-fashioned way – campaign and election – instead of the usual route, being appointed to fill a midterm vacancy.

    He’s a thoughtful jurist. He’s an eloquent writer. And he wants to reduce gamesmanship in litigation by asking everyone, both bar and bench, to look at the bigger picture.

    These other two although did the correct thing were appointed by John Engler. The worst governor Michigan has ever had. The like of Geo. W but to a state alone.

    Donald S. Owens
    Judge Owens was appointed to the Court in 1999, elected in 2000, and reelected in 2004. Previously, he served as judge of the Ingham County Probate Court from 1974 to 1999. Before that, he was an attorney in private practice in Lansing. Judge Owens received his bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from the University of Michigan.
    Term expires, January 1, 2011.

    William C. Whitbeck
    Judge Whitbeck was appointed to the Court in 1997 and reelected to six-year terms in 1998 and 2004. Previously, he was director of the Office of State Employer, director of policy for the Public Service Commission, director of the Detroit area office for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, an administrative assistant to Governor George Romney, a legislative analyst for the Department of Commerce, and worked as an attorney in private practice. Chief Judge Whitbeck received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his law degree from the University of Michigan. The Supreme Court appointed Judge Whitbeck as Chief Judge in 2001 for a two-year term. He was reappointed for additional two-year terms as Chief Judge in 2003 and 2005.
    Term expires January 1, 2011.

    I am not surprised that they did the correct thing. They are more moderate that the Michigan Supreme Court. If you can call Rubber Stamping Supreme. I guess it is all in the ink that the stamp uses.

Comments are closed.