People v. Jeglum

Decision Date30 May 1972
Docket NumberDocket No. 11845,No. 3,3
Citation199 N.W.2d 854,41 Mich.App. 247
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Nancy Leigh JEGLUM, Defendant-Appellant
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan — District of US

William L. Mackay, Newman & Mackay, Lansing, for defendant-appellant.

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Robert A. Derengoski, Sol. Gen., Donald E. Zimmer, Pros. Atty., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before J. H. GILLIS, P.J., and T. M. BURNS and TARGONSKI, * JJ.

J. H. GILLIS, Presiding Judge.

Defendant appeals as of right from a conviction by jury of negligent homicide, M.C.L.A. § 750.324; M.S.A. § 28.556.

At 7:10 p.m. on May 21, 1970, defendant Mancy Jeglum was driving northeast on highway M--99. Intending to make a left turn into the driveway of Forest Lawn Cemetery, defendant stopped her car to allow a car going in the opposite direction to pass. Seeing no additional oncoming traffic, defendant proceeded to make her turn into the cemetery, traveling at a speed of 2 to 5 miles per hour.

At some point in completing her turn, defendant's car was struck at the centerpost by the oncoming motorcycle driven by the deceased, Stanley Mead.

The sole eyewitness to the accident was a friend of Mr. Mead's, who was following him on his own motorcycle at a distance of 55 to 70 yards, at a speed of 50 to 55 miles per hour. The witness testified that because of a four hundred foot-long dip in the highway, one quarter mile north of the scene of the accident, he lost sight of the deceased until just before the impact.

Testimony conflicted as to whether the point of impact was in the deceased's southbound lane of the highway or in the cemetery driveway. Testimony was undisputed that the day was clear, the pavement dry, and that although it was evening, there was sufficient light to see without headlights.

Donna Mead, wife of the deceased, testified that her husband had an artificial left eye on the day of the accident, but that the sight in his right eye was perfect.

Defendant testified that she had an unobstructed view of the highway ahead, had looked, but did not see the deceased before completing her turn.

It was stipulated that deceased died as a result of the accident.

On appeal, the defendant raises many issues, only one of which we will consider, as it is dispositive of this case. Did the trial judge commit reversible error in (1) refusing defendant's requested instruction that to find the defendant guilty, it must be established that her negligence constituted 'the' proximate cause of Stanley Mead's death, and in (2) instructing the jury that the negligence of the deceased, if any, was to have no part in their decision.

In People v. Scott, 29 Mich.App. 549, at p. 557, 185 N.W.2d 576, at p. 580 (1971), involving a charge of involuntary manslaughter, we held that:

'* * * It must first appear that the defendant's act was grossly negligent and that the resulting homicide was 'the natural or necessary result of The act of (the defendant.)"

We expressed concern in that case about imposing criminal liability in a situation where both defendant and deceased had acted negligently, nothing that criminal guilt under our law is based on personal fault.

'In criminal prosecutions there must be a more direct causal connection between the criminal conduct of the defendant and the homicide charged than is required by the tort liability concept of proximate cause.' Scott, Supra, at p. 558, 185 N.W.2d at p. 581.

The trial judge's refusal to give the requested instruction: that the defendant's act must be The proximate cause, and not A proximate cause, of the victim's death, in order to support a conviction for negligent homicide, was error.

The effect of that error, when coupled with the instructions given the jury that the conduct of the deceased should not be considered, was so prejudicial as to require reversal.

In this case, unlike the Scott Case which involved the possible negligence of third parties, the only parties whose conduct could have been the proximate cause of the accident were defendant and deceased. The jury's finding as to the existence of negligent behavior on the part of the deceased thus became crucial, in determining whether defendant was the sole cause of the accident.

The trial judge properly instructed the jury that deceased's contributory negligence, if any, was not a factor in a criminal case, and would not negate defendant's negligence if the latter were established. The jury was also instructed that it should consider every circumstance surrounding the accident in making its decision as to defendant's guilt.

The jurors interrupted their deliberations to ask of the court: 'Does negligence on the part of Mr. Mead have any bearing on our decision?'

The trial judge repeated the earlier instructions on that point, then added:

'To further enumerate on this, the issue is not whether or not the deceased was negligent. It is no part of your decision or no concern.'

This instruction effectively eliminated the conduct of the deceased from the jurors' consideration. While contributory negligence of the deceased was no defense, it did not follow that his conduct should be eliminated from the case. '* * * (I)t should be considered as bearing upon the claimed culpable negligence of the respondent * * *. (W)ere the deceased, at the time of the accident, using ordinary care for their own safety? If they were not, that fact would not be a defense, but it would be an important factor in the case which the defendant would be entitled to have the jury consider.' People v. Campbell, 237 Mich. 424, 431, 212 N.W. 97, 100 (1927). See People v. Clark, 295 Mich. 704, 708--709, 295 N.W. 370 (1940).


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9 cases
  • People v. Moss
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • July 19, 1976
    ...instead of 'the proximate cause', the correct standard. People v. Scott, 29 Mich.App. 549, 185 N.W.2d 576 (1971), People v. Jeglum, 41 Mich.App. 247, 199 N.W.2d 854 (1972). For this reason, I am compelled to conclude that Tilley's intervention was an independent, intervening cause of death ......
  • People v. Daniels
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • November 23, 1988
    ...than is required to hold the defendant liable in tort. Scott, supra, 29 Mich.App. at p. 556, 185 N.W.2d 576; People v. Jeglum, 41 Mich.App. 247, 250, 199 N.W.2d 854 (1972). Where the defendant was a participant in the events resulting in the death, but did not, as in this case, do the homic......
  • People v. Florida, Docket No. 19351
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • June 9, 1975
    ...of making the 'practical distinctions' between 'negligence greater than slight yet less than gross * * *'. People v. Jeglum, 41 Mich.App. 247, 253, 199 N.W.2d 854, 858 (1972). Thus, these authorities would seemingly allow a jury in a criminal case to be advised as to the distinctions discus......
  • U.S. v. Schmidt, 80-1257
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • July 31, 1980
    ...see no reversible error in the ruling.2 See, e. g., the cases collected in 67 A.L.R. 922 and 99 A.L.R. 756, 833-34; People v. Jeglum, 41 Mich.App. 247, 199 N.W.2d 854 (1972). As these authorities also show, the contributory negligence of the decedent is not in and of itself a defense to a c......
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