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Supreme Court says double jeopardy does not protect against murder retrial
Washington Post ^ | Thursday, May 24 2012, 5:49 PM | Robert Barnes

Posted on 05/24/2012 8:08:26 PM PDT by Olog-hai

Arkansas may retry a man for murder even though jurors in his first trial were unanimous that he was not guilty, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Alex Blueford, who is accused of killing his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son, is not protected by the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause, the court ruled in a 6 to 3 decision.

Because the judge dismissed the jury when it was unable to reach agreement on lesser charges, Blueford was not officially cleared of any of the charges, the majority said, and thus may be retried.

“The jury in this case did not convict Blueford of any offense, but it did not acquit him of any either,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote.

The decision brought a sharp dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

“Blueford’s jury had the option to convict him of capital and first-degree murder, but expressly declined to do so,” Sotomayor wrote. “That ought to be the end of the matter.”

The Double Jeopardy Clause is found in the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and commands that no person shall be “twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” for the same offense. …

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: constitution; court; doublejeopardy; hung; hungjury; jury; murder; scotus
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1 posted on 05/24/2012 8:08:39 PM PDT by Olog-hai
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To: Olog-hai

I gotta side with the wise latina on this one.

Never thought I’d ever say that sentence.

*sigh*


2 posted on 05/24/2012 8:13:55 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1220 of our ObamaVacation from reality [and what dark chill/is gathering still/before the storm])
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To: null and void

I agree with you. Roberts’ logic is strained on this one.


3 posted on 05/24/2012 8:20:15 PM PDT by Our man in washington
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To: Olog-hai

I agree. Roberts is wrong on this one, I think.


4 posted on 05/24/2012 8:21:54 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Olog-hai

I’m totally shocked by this decision. They couldn’t be more wrong... :-/


5 posted on 05/24/2012 8:25:50 PM PDT by Sporke (USS-Iowa BB-61)
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To: Olog-hai

I’m totally shocked by this decision. They couldn’t be more wrong... :-/


6 posted on 05/24/2012 8:26:03 PM PDT by Sporke (USS-Iowa BB-61)
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To: Olog-hai

Perhaps more was appealed from this case than the USSC took up. Like the judge ought to have accepted the partial not guilty verdicts.

It seems to open the door for the prosecution and judge to engineer almost limitless mulligans.


7 posted on 05/24/2012 8:26:03 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Let me ABOs run loose Lou, let me ABOs run loose! They are of much use Lou, so let me ABOs run loose)
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To: Olog-hai

Bad, bad, very bad, decision.


8 posted on 05/24/2012 8:26:22 PM PDT by WackySam (Obama got Osama just like Nixon landed on the moon.)
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To: Olog-hai

Outrageous.


9 posted on 05/24/2012 8:26:49 PM PDT by Talisker (He who commands, must obey.)
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To: Olog-hai

The majority was right on this one. Until a jury has reached its verdict, any back and forth they have with the judge is just part of their deliberations.

There have been cases where juries have already decided, but asked the judge a last minute question, the answer to which changes the vote of one or more jurors, who notify the jury foreman.

Even more common, when a jury finds a defendant guilty, the defense can demand that each individual juror be polled to say, on their own, that yes, they did vote guilty. This is based on a suspicion that a juror was bullied into a verdict they disagreed with, or was just misheard by the foreman.

However, that being said, I think it was inappropriate for the prosecutor to present a whole gamut of charges for which the defendant could have been convicted for the same offense.

That is like a multiple choice question where four of the answers are “yes”, and only one is “no”. It is unbalanced in favor of conviction.


10 posted on 05/24/2012 8:27:56 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: Olog-hai; xzins

This is a dangerous precedent. It is one of those broken clock moments at SCOTUS.


11 posted on 05/24/2012 8:28:09 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: Olog-hai
I originally thought I disagreed with this decision, but after reading the whole article and thinking about it, the jury was dismissed and no verdict, not guilty or guilty on any charge was returned. Yes, the jurors said on an informal vote they didn't think the defendant was guilty of murder, but when the judge told them to go back and deliberate more, minds could have been changed. Jury's argue and change positions all the time. In many cases, the original vote could be for guilty but not unanimous and after more deliberation not guilty could be returned as the official, unanimous decision signed and agreed to by each jury member. This judge seems to have released this jury before any official verdict was reached, hence no double jeopardy. (In my non-attorney opinion.)
12 posted on 05/24/2012 8:30:22 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: P-Marlowe; null and void

It appears that a technicality is in effect here, if I’m reading this correctly.

There were a numbr of charges. One of them was murder. There were a number of lesser charges. However, it’s all one trial.

Since the jury couldn’t answer all of the questions, the jury appears to have been dismissed before it officially announced any of its decisions.

The judge dismissed the jury. I assume that means he thought the process was broke, so he sent the jury home.

If I’m reading this correctly, NO acquital was every announced for any charge including the murder charge.

Am I reading this correctly up to this point?


13 posted on 05/24/2012 8:30:45 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True Supporters of Our Troops Pray they Win every Fight!)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

In this case, the jury unanimously agreed against capital murder, unanimously agreed against 1st degree murder, and split against manslaughter (9-3 tilted toward acquittal).

Whether this was the right verdict or wrong verdict, it is unconstitutional to retry the charges he was acquitted on, and I am astounded the supreme court is allowing it.


14 posted on 05/24/2012 8:31:26 PM PDT by TennesseeProfessor
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To: null and void

Sorry, but the jury did not reach a decision. I think the judge should have taken the verdict on the two counts, but that probably requires an actual verdict form and the judge polling the jury not just a statement by the foreman.

I wonder if the guy appealed again asking appeals courts to order the judge to reconvene the jury and take those verdicts, if he would get such an order? I wonder if the judge had the power to do that in that state?


15 posted on 05/24/2012 8:37:02 PM PDT by JLS (How to turn a recession into a depression: elect a Dem president with a big majorities in Congress))
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To: null and void
From the Summary: "As permitted under Arkansas law, the jury’s options in this case were limited to two: either convict on one of the offenses, or acquit on all offenses."

Technically, this didn't happen and is the basis of the majority's opinion. The basis for the majority's decision is really weak. The Arkansas law in this regard is clearly unconstitutional.

You are correct about the wise latina getting this one right.

16 posted on 05/24/2012 8:40:48 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

I agree with you that the fault here lies with the Prosecution. Pick a charge or charges and present your case! No more throwing everything at the defendant to see what sticks, because to me it comes across as you, the Prosecution, don’t really have any idea what really happened. So how are you supposed to convince a jury?


17 posted on 05/24/2012 8:41:21 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: xzins
Am I reading this correctly up to this point?

The Constitution is unequivocal on this issue. You cannot be tried twice for the same offense. Here the Jury reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty on the murder charge. The prosecution charged a lot of lesser included offenses as a back up to the murder charge just in case they didn't win on that one. They lost on that one.

The bottom line is that the Jury acquitted the defendant of the crime of murder but because the jury could not reach a verdict on manslaughter or cheating on his taxes or whatever other crimes he was accused of during the trial, the judge did not accept the verdict and ordered a new trial on all issues including the murder charge that the Jury actually made a decision on.

This is a real travesty of justice. I've been seeing a lot of this kind of stuff lately and my confidence in the judicial system is at an all time low.

Roberts should be ashamed of this decision. Just because you are a conservative does not mean that you have to bend the law to put away criminal defendants. This guy probably deserved to be convicted, but he wasn't. The Constitution prohibits double jeopardy and this is as clear a case of double jeopardy as I can imagine.

18 posted on 05/24/2012 8:41:36 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: TennesseeProfessor

They never officially rendered any decision on any charge.


19 posted on 05/24/2012 8:42:58 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

The jury acquitted the guy on the murder charge.

The judge failed to enter the verdict.

The court has green-lighted multiple trials based on a judge’s error, an error any judge could now make to justify a future retrial for any defendant the judge or The State doesn’t like.


20 posted on 05/24/2012 8:45:43 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1220 of our ObamaVacation from reality [and what dark chill/is gathering still/before the storm])
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To: P-Marlowe
Read the article. They never officially acquitted anyone of anything. That's the problem.
21 posted on 05/24/2012 8:46:16 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: MacMattico; xzins
Read the article. They never officially acquitted anyone of anything. That's the problem.

Define "officially acquitted".

Did the jury reach a unanimous decision on the murder charge?

Yes

Did the Jury inform the court of their decision?

Yes.

How can you defend this decision?

22 posted on 05/24/2012 8:49:24 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: SeaHawkFan

I don’t think it ever got to that point. No verdict was officially rendered before the jury was dismissed.


23 posted on 05/24/2012 8:51:25 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: Olog-hai

This destroys the entire concept of double jeopardy.

Just have a judge dismiss a jury before verdicts because you don’t think it’s going the way you want, and you can retry a person again.

Not good.


24 posted on 05/24/2012 8:54:03 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: SeaHawkFan
Technically, this didn't happen

Technicalities are important. If the jury has not officially entered a verdict then no verdict exists regardless of the state of the jury at a given time.

25 posted on 05/24/2012 8:54:03 PM PDT by garbanzo (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine)
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To: Olog-hai

Can we apply this decision to OJ?


26 posted on 05/24/2012 8:54:32 PM PDT by Michael.SF. (When you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras.)
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To: P-Marlowe

So, you’re saying that the jury was called in to announce it’s verdict....that the judge didn’t stop them PRIOR TO the end of their deliberations?

Is that right? (I don’t know if I’m asking this question well.)

I would absolutely oppose any retrial of the man if the jury walked into the courtroom and announced innocent on the first item, murder, but we’re hung on items 2, 3, 4, and 5.

If, however, (1) the jury was still in the jury room deliberating, and (2) they’d taken what amounted to a final poll on each of these items, and (3) they were unable to reach a decision except on one of them, and (4) they had not returned to the courtroom to announce, and (5) the judge dismissed them because they couldn’t decide, THEN, I’d say there is a technicality at play here.

Othewise, it doesn’t make sense why Scotus would rule what they did.


27 posted on 05/24/2012 8:54:42 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True Supporters of Our Troops Pray they Win every Fight!)
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To: xzins; P-Marlowe
Since the jury couldn’t answer all of the questions, the jury appears to have been dismissed before it officially announced any of its decisions.

From the Syllabus: "As permitted under Arkansas law, the jury’s options in this casewere limited to two: either convict on one of the offenses, or acquit on another option—that of acquitting on some offenses but not others."

There was no verdict that is recognized under the law in Arkansas. The majority simply refused to determine if the Arkansas law was in violation of the U.S. Constitution and declare the Arkansas law unconstitutional. This goes to show that even conservative justices can be so out of touch with the real world in their ivory tower.

28 posted on 05/24/2012 8:58:23 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: xzins
it doesn’t make sense why Scotus would rule what they did.

...unless someone wants to be able to endlessly persecute uh, prosecute an enemy of the state.

29 posted on 05/24/2012 9:02:13 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1220 of our ObamaVacation from reality [and what dark chill/is gathering still/before the storm])
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To: P-Marlowe

The jury fills out the official paperwork, announces they have a verdict, and the foreperson reads it in open court with the defendant present.

In this case, a representative of the jury spoke with the judge about their difficulties reaching a verdict, that’s part of the deliberation process only. What if upon further reflection and with further review when the judge told them to go back and deliberate more, they had found him guilty of murder? Until official, juries change their minds on guilt and innocence through further deliberation all the time, they just don’t always announce their feelings at the present time in front of the judge which is what happened here.


30 posted on 05/24/2012 9:02:30 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: JLS

I am not a lawyer, but think once a jury is dismissed, it’s dismissed and can’t be reconvened. They are warned when they are seated before the trial not to discuss the case with anyone else, including other jurors, much less family, etc. Once dismissed, they are free to discuss the case and most probably have, so their opinions would be tainted.

On first blush this looks like a bad decision, but I understand what I’ve read so far about Roberts’ opinion, and want to read the whole opinion before thinking it’s good or bad - for all the effect that will have!


31 posted on 05/24/2012 9:07:37 PM PDT by EDINVA
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To: SeaHawkFan; xzins; MacMattico
There was no verdict that is recognized under the law in Arkansas.

It is idiocy and stupid jury instructions like that which have caused me to lose my faith in the judicial system.

I have jury duty next week and if some judge asks me whether or not I am going to follow his jury instructions I'm going to tell him that I probably won't.

In this case the law is clearly unconstitutional because it permits and even encourages double jeopardy by refusing to recognize a unanimous jury decision on one charge unless the jury makes a decision on all charges. It clearly encourages prosecutors to overcharge defendants.

The fact that this is a decision supported by so-called conservative justices tells me that their allegiance is to something other than the constitution.

I don't believe I live in a constitutional republic anymore.

32 posted on 05/24/2012 9:08:51 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: P-Marlowe; MacMattico; xzins

People should read the dissenting opinion. It is very well-reasoned and explains why the technical lack of a “verdict” is a bogus argument.


33 posted on 05/24/2012 9:09:42 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: MacMattico

Black originally had a hung jury.


34 posted on 05/24/2012 9:16:39 PM PDT by MNDude
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To: xzins; SeaHawkFan
I would absolutely oppose any retrial of the man if the jury walked into the courtroom and announced innocent on the first item, murder, but we’re hung on items 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Technically the jury was prohibited from doing that.

The problem lies in the Arkansas law which does not allow a jury to acquit of the most serious charge unless they convict the defendant of a lesser included offense or aquit on all offenses. That is insane. In this case the jury did reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge. They were deadlocked on the lesser charges. But under this STUPID law and this STUPID decision the defendant will have to face the murder charge again.

It is these minor technicalities in the law and in the jury instructions which make the law an ass.

35 posted on 05/24/2012 9:17:06 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: P-Marlowe
Here the Jury reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty on the murder charge.

no they didn't they arrived at no verdict at all...certainly open to further charges.

36 posted on 05/24/2012 9:18:46 PM PDT by terycarl (lurking, but well informed)
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To: terycarl; xzins; SeaHawkFan
no they didn't they arrived at no verdict at all.

I didn't know that Ebonics was allowed on this forum.

37 posted on 05/24/2012 9:21:46 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: Olog-hai

Seems to me that this is splitting a mighty fine hair.


38 posted on 05/24/2012 9:24:16 PM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: P-Marlowe

I agree. The Arkansas law does sound ready-built for an over-charging prosecutor.

What would be acceptable logic for requiring that there must be a verdict of some sort on minor charges or else the whole thing goes back to trial, including the murder charge?

The only thing I can think of is that they’ve got this dead body, and they’ve clearly got the guy who did it, possible because “not guilty” doesn’t necessarily mean, not the perpetrator.

In that scenario I can see saying “If it’s not murder then you’ve got to decide if he’s guilty or innocent of manslaughter or negligent homicide. You can’t just let a guy walk away from a dead body.”


39 posted on 05/24/2012 9:31:13 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True Supporters of Our Troops Pray they Win every Fight!)
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To: SeaHawkFan; xzins
verdict [ˈvɜːdɪkt]
n
1. (Law) the findings of a jury on the issues of fact submitted to it for examination and trial; judgment
2. any decision, judgment, or conclusion
[from Medieval Latin vērdictum, from Latin vērē dictum truly spoken, from vērus true + dīcere to say]

de·ci·sion (d-szhn)

n.
1. The passing of judgment on an issue under consideration.
2. The act of reaching a conclusion or making up one's mind.
3. A conclusion or judgment reached or pronounced; a verdict.

5th Amendment: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . ."[


40 posted on 05/24/2012 9:32:44 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: MNDude

But that has nothing to do with a separate trial, correct?


41 posted on 05/24/2012 9:35:18 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: xzins; SeaHawkFan
You can’t just let a guy walk away from a dead body

The jury did not reach a decision on the lesser charges. The jury did make a decision on the murder charge. He ain't walking away. He can be tried again on the lesser charges. He should not have to be put in jeopardy again on a charge which the prosecution brought but for which the jury determined he was not guilty.

This is a scary decision for anyone who fears an overreaching government. This is exactly the kind of situation that the 5th amendment was designed to prevent.

42 posted on 05/24/2012 9:37:49 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: SeaHawkFan; All

What if it were reversed, and they couldn’t come to an agreement on some lesser charge but in DISCUSSIONS with the judge said they agreed you were guilty of murder? Even though it was never an official verdict, and more deliberation may have found jurors finding reasonable doubt, because the jury was dismissed, should you still fry?


43 posted on 05/24/2012 9:43:27 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
Even more common, when a jury finds a defendant guilty, the defense can demand that each individual juror be polled to say, on their own, that yes, they did vote guilty. This is based on a suspicion that a juror was bullied into a verdict they disagreed with, or was just misheard by the foreman.

There was a case in the Philly area about ten years ago where the jury announced they had reached a verdict and were brought back into the courtroom. When the jurors were polled one-by-one by the judge, they all said "not guilty" until they got to one guy who said, "guilty", thereby surprising everybody and throwing the court into chaos.

Apparently this was one of those cases where the killer's confession - - or maybe it was some other piece of damning evidence - - was thrown out on a slimy lawyer technicality. But everybody in the courtroom knew the guy was guilty of murder. The juror later said he just couldn't watch the killer walk free and so he changed his vote on the fly. In my opinion, that guy was a hero.

44 posted on 05/24/2012 9:48:26 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: MacMattico; SeaHawkFan; xzins
What if it were reversed, and they couldn’t come to an agreement on some lesser charge but in DISCUSSIONS with the judge said they agreed you were guilty of murder?

What if your premise was absurd?

Oh wait. It is.

45 posted on 05/24/2012 9:49:33 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Virgil Goode! Because everyone else is Bad!)
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To: MacMattico

Sorry, that should be Blago


46 posted on 05/24/2012 9:55:56 PM PDT by MNDude
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To: P-Marlowe
The judge sent the jury back to deliberate further, they never delivered a verdict after that. Do you know what went on during that deliberation? Because all the court was told at that point was “no verdict”. They were then dismissed. What if minds were changed? The absurdity would to be take a statement made while still in deliberation as the final say in any ones trial.
47 posted on 05/24/2012 10:00:56 PM PDT by MacMattico
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
Heh, it took awhile but I actually found the story online. It was twenty years ago, not ten (shrug):

Walter J. Ogrod

The case remained unsolved for four years.

Police arrested Ogrod in 1992, after re-interviewing him and other neighbors.

The suspect confessed to police and later to a jailhouse snitch, but he later claimed that homicide detectives coerced a statement out of him and contended that inmate Jason Banachowski made up his story.

Ogrod went to trial in 1993 and was about to be found not guilty when a juror, Alfred Szewczak, changed his mind at the last second. A mistrial was granted.

Three years later, Ogrod went on trial again. This time, a jury convicted him in less than two hours.

48 posted on 05/24/2012 10:02:36 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: Olog-hai

sounds more like a mistrial.


49 posted on 05/24/2012 10:13:26 PM PDT by fortheDeclaration (Pr 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation:but sin is a reproach to any people)
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To: Olog-hai
Because the judge dismissed the jury when it was unable to reach agreement on lesser charges, Blueford was not officially cleared of any of the charges, the majority said, and thus may be retried.

A duly constituted jury reached a verdict on that charge. Would the prosecutor object if the situation were the reverse and the defense wanted the conviction overturned because the jury deadlocked on some other charges??? Has someone been sneaking crack into the donuts in the SCOTUS lunchroom?

50 posted on 05/24/2012 10:14:27 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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