Michigan's model criminal jury instructions have been developed over the course of many years through the State Bar's Standing Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions, and published by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education which has made them available to its subscribers and through individual purchase. Calling these instructions a "valuable tool," the Michigan Supreme Court has concluded that they have acquired such widespread use and the utility for attorneys, litigants, and courts, the Court has now ordered that the use of will be freely available, and mandatory after March 1, 2014. With this decision, the Court is following the precedent set over a decade ago when it adopted the State Bar-developed model civil jury instruction, and made them mandatory and freely available. As it did with the civil jury instructions, the Court has created a committee to propose new and to modify existing criminal jury instructions, appointing current members of the State Bar's committee to its newly-created committee. The new committee will commence work on January 1.
The order implementing the new committee expressed appreciation for the long and distinguished service that members of the Standing Committee on Standard Criminal Jury Instructions have provided, and for the "generous decision" of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education to relinquish its copyright over the instructions enabling the instructions and much of their accompanying materials, including an official commentary, to be freely available on the Court’s website. ICLE retains the copyright on an extensive commentary on the instructions, which will continue to be available exclusively through ICLE.
The Court's order charges the committee with ensuring that the Criminal Jury Instructions accurately state applicable law, and that the instructions are "concise, understandable, conversational, unslanted, and not argumentative." The committee has the authority to amend or repeal existing instructions and adopt new instructions, but must provide a text of the proposal to the secretary of the State Bar of Michigan and the state court administrator, and post the proposal on the Court’s website for public comment. If the committee finds it necessary to take immediate action, the committee may adopt a new instruction or revision while the public comment period is pending.
Members of the new 21-member Committee on Model Criminal Jury Instructions are:
For terms ending December 31, 2014:
- William J. Caprathe, Chairperson
- John T. Hammond
- Ronald J. Bretz
- Stephen M. Taratuta
- Anica Letica
- J. Mark Cooney
- Torchio W. Feaster
For terms ending December 31, 2015:
- Hon. Brian R. Sullivan
- William J. Vailliencourt, Jr.
- Opolla Brown
- Hon. Annette M. Jurkiewicz-Berry
- Louisa M. Papalas-Concessi
- Gene Schnelz
- Lawrence B. Shulman
For terms ending December 31, 2016:
- Rudolph A. Serra
- Bonita S. Hoffman
- Hon. Paul J. Paruk
- Christopher Smith
- Stacia J. Buchanan
- Hon.Timothy G. Hicks
- Timothy Baughman