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Law School Case Brief

People v. Smith - 225 N.W.2d 165 (1975)

Rule:

In construing statutes in an effort to ascertain and give effect to the legislative interest, courts are guided by a rule of construction known as "ejusdem generis." This is a rule whereby in a statute in which general words follow a designation of particular subjects, the meaning of the general words will ordinarily be presumed to be and construed as restricted by the particular designation and as including only things of the same kind, class, character, or nature as those specifically enumerated.

Facts:

Two police officers observed a van, in which Robert E. Smith was a passenger, make several erratic U-turns. The van was stopped, and an officer while approaching the vehicle observed through the right window what he believed to be the stock of a rifle. He opened the door and grabbed an M-1 rifle from underneath the second seat. Smith and three others were charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle and were bound over to Recorder’s Court of Detroit for trial. Defendant filed a motion to quash the information, contending that an M-1 rifle was not a dangerous weapon within the meaning of MCLA 750.227. The trial court denied the motion to quash. Thereafter, the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals (Michigan) that affirmed the trial court's denial of their motion to quash.

Issue:

Was an M-1 rifle a dangerous weapon within the meaning of MCLA 750.227, thereby justifying the lower courts’ decision to deny defendant’s motion to quash?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the words "or other dangerous weapon" following the particular designation of "dagger, dirk, stiletto" in the statute must be construed under the rule of ejusdem generis to be limited to stabbing weapons; hence, they did not include firearms of any sort. Accordingly, the Court held that the information should have been quashed, as the defendant was charged under the wrong statute.

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