On February 20, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled eight-one in Evans v. Michigan that the Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy Clause barred the State of Michigan from retrying my client, Lamar Evans, for the crime of "burning other real property" because the trial judge had granted Evans's midtrial motion for a directed verdict of acquittal. The Court held that such an acquittal is final, even though the trial judge's reason for granting that acquittal-that the prosecution was required to prove that the building burned was not a dwelling house and had failed to do so-was completely wrong as a matter of law.
In his dissent, Justice Alito set forth the facts of the case as he distilled them from the Michigan Supreme Court's opinion: Detroit police officers arrested Evans after they saw him running away from a burning house holding a gasoline can, and Evans subsequently admitted to the officers that he had set the fire. Alito bitterly complained that Evans had received an "undeserved benefit." The majority opinion, written by Justice Sotomayor, did not deny that a trial judge's legally erroneous acquittal amounts to a "windfall" for a defendant such as Evans.