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147187 - People v Smith (Ryan)

The People of the State of Michigan,
 
Ana I. Quiroz
 
Plaintiff-Appellant,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Wayne – Jones, V.)
 
Ryan Christopher Smith,
 
Daniel J. Rust
 
Defendant-Appellee.
 

Summary

​Defendant Ryan Smith pled guilty to attempted carrying a concealed weapon.  Because Smith had no prior criminal history, the prosecutor recommended that he be sentenced to probation. On June 3, 2011, at sentencing, Smith’s attorney asked the trial court to delay sentence for a year under MCL 771.1, to give Smith the chance to demonstrate to the court that he deserved leniency. MCL 771.1 states that, “[i]n an action in which the court may place the defendant on probation, the court may delay sentencing the defendant for not more than 1 year to give the defendant an opportunity to prove to the court his or her eligibility for probation or other leniency compatible with the ends of justice and the defendant’s rehabilitation . . . . When sentencing is delayed, the court shall enter an order stating the reason for the delay upon the court’s records. The delay in passing sentence does not deprive the court of jurisdiction to sentence the defendant at any time during the period of delay.” Smith’s attorney proposed that, after a year had passed, the parties could reconvene and perhaps the prosecutor might be willing to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor conviction, or even dismiss the conviction outright. The prosecutor objected, and asked the trial court to sentence Smith to probation without delay.  But on June 17, 2011, the trial court ruled that sentencing would be adjourned for one year, as defendant had requested. 

 The sentencing hearing was reconvened on June 18, 2012.  Smith’s attorney directed the court’s attention to MCL 771.1, and asked the court to dismiss the case. More than a year had passed, he argued, and the trial court no longer had jurisdiction over the case. The trial court agreed with Smith’s analysis of the statute, and dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, over the prosecutor’s objection.

 The prosecutor appealed to the Court of Appeals, which denied leave to appeal for lack of merit.  One judge dissented, and would have reinstated Smith’s conviction, although he conceded that, given that more than a year had passed, Smith could no longer be sentenced on that conviction. 

 The prosecutor then sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, which was granted on September 18, 2013.  The Supreme Court asks the parties to address: (1) whether a trial court loses jurisdiction, for purposes of sentencing or otherwise, by failure to sentence a defendant within one year after delaying sentence under MCL 771.1; (2) whether a defendant waives a claim of error related to a delay in sentencing where he requests a delayed sentence under the statute; and (3) what remedy should apply to a failure to sentence a defendant within a year of conviction.