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BlogsPublications | June 27, 2016
2 minute read

MSC will hear mini-oral argument on whether failure to administer jury oath before trial requires reversal of criminal convictions

The issue of whether failure to administer any oath to the jury following jury selection and before the beginning of trial amounts to plain error will be considered in People v. Crawford, No. 152752. The Michigan Supreme Court has granted mini-oral argument in the appeal to decide what action it should take on the application.  A finding of plain error would require reversal of the defendant’s convictions. 

The defendant was convicted of assault with intent to murder, MCL 750.83, possession of a firearm with during the commission of a felony, second offense, MCL 750.227b, and felon in possession of a firearm, MCL 750.224f.  The Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions on October 13, 2015, rejecting defendant’s arguments that (1) failure to administer an oath to the jury was plain error; (2) that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions; (3) that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment because of his age and health; and (4) that the trial court violated his right against self-incrimination because he had to admit to prior convictions at trial.  In particular, the Court of Appeals found that, under the reasoning of People v. Cain, _ Mich _ (2015) the purpose of the jury oath was largely fulfilled by the trial court’s instructions in the present case.  Cain held that administering the incorrect jury oath did not amount to plain error because the jury instructions given accomplished the same ends that the oath was intended to accomplish.  

The Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument on the application for leave to appeal and ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs on the issue of whether the failure to administer any oath to the jury between jury selection and trial amounts to plain error.