Unger v. StateAnnotate this Case
In 1976, Petitioner Merle Unger was indicted for felony murder, armed robbery, and using a handgun in the commission of the felony. During the trial, the trial judge told the jury that all of the judge's instructions as to the law were advisory. In 1996, Unger filed a petition for postconviction relief, arguing that the judge's instructions at his 1976 trial violated his right to due process of law because they empowered jurors to ignore the law. The post-conviction trial court granted a new trial. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that because Unger did not object to the advisory instructions given in his case, he waived his right to receive postconviction relief. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the court of special appeals and affirmed the circuit court's judgment, holding that the trial judge's instructions at Unger's trial, telling the jury that all of the court's instructions on legal matters were "merely advisory" were clearly in error, at least as applied to matters implicating federal constitutional rights.