Skip to comments.Supreme Court says double jeopardy does not protect against murder retrial
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 girlfriends 1-year-old son, is not protected by the Constitutions 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.
Bluefords 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 Constitutions 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 ...
Define "officially acquitted".
Did the jury reach a unanimous decision on the murder charge?
Did the Jury inform the court of their decision?
How can you defend this decision?
I don’t think it ever got to that point. No verdict was officially rendered before the jury was dismissed.
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.
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.
Can we apply this decision to OJ?
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.
From the Syllabus: "As permitted under Arkansas law, the jurys options in this casewere limited to two: either convict on one of the offenses, or acquit on another optionthat 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.
...unless someone wants to be able to endlessly
persecute uh, prosecute an enemy of the state.
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.
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!
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.
People should read the dissenting opinion. It is very well-reasoned and explains why the technical lack of a “verdict” is a bogus argument.
Black originally had a hung jury.
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.
no they didn't they arrived at no verdict at all...certainly open to further charges.
I didn't know that Ebonics was allowed on this forum.
Seems to me that this is splitting a mighty fine hair.
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.”
5th Amendment: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . ."[
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.