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September 18, 2013

MSC to consider whether trial court loses jurisdiction when criminal sentencing is delayed more than one year.

The Michigan Supreme Court has granted the prosecution’s delayed application for leave to appeal in People v. Smith, to address the jurisdictional implications arising out of a delayed sentencing.  In Smith, the Wayne County Circuit Court delayed the defendant’s sentencing hearing for over one year.  When the hearing was finally held, rather than enter a judgment of sentence, the trial court entered an order dismissing Mr. Smith’s conviction for attempted carrying a concealed weapon. 

The Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed a delayed application for leave to appeal the order of dismissal.  In a split decision, the Court of Appeals denied the application for lack of merit in the grounds presented.  Judge Murray dissented and wrote that, in lieu of granting leave to appeal, he would have reversed the order of dismissal.  Judge Murray reasoned that the trial court did not have the authority to enter the order of dismissal.

On appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court has asked the parties to address whether MCL 771.1 strips a trial court of jurisdiction, for purposes of sentencing or otherwise, when it fails to sentence a defendant within one year.  The parties will also address whether a defendant has waived claims of error related to the delayed sentencing where the defendant has requested delayed sentencing.  Finally, the parties have been directed to address what remedy should apply where a defendant is not sentenced within one year of his or her conviction.

The Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan have been invited to file briefs amicus curiae.

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