Michigan v. RichardsonAnnotate this Case
Defendant Donald Richardson and his wife had a "poor relationship" with some of their neighbors which resulted in several altercations. One such altercation escalated and Defendant was charged with two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count of felony-firearm. At trial on these charges, Defendant asserted a theory of self-defense. At the close of trial, the court read a pattern jury instruction, which permitted consideration of whether Defendant had a duty to retreat. After a day of deliberations, the jury asked the judge to define "home." The court explained that an individual had no duty to retreat before using deadly force if in his own home or curtilage of that dwelling. Two days later, the jurors could not make a decision. The court reread the instruction that lies at the heart of this case, but did not reiterate the definition of curtilage. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Defendant argued that the court's use of the jury instruction, and its omission to reread the definition of curtilage (which is not part of the pattern jury instruction) was in error. Upon review of the trial record, the Supreme Court held that it was appropriate for the trial court to use the standard jury instruction in this case. Further, the Court found there was adequate evidence from which the jury could conclude that Defendant did not need to use deadly force to defend himself. Rather than grant leave to appeal, the Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for assault.