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 ...
But that has nothing to do with a separate trial, correct?
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.
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?
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.
What if your premise was absurd?
Oh wait. It is.
Sorry, that should be Blago
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.
sounds more like a mistrial.
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?
I don’t like this, but them’s the rules.
Oh. I thought they formally voted and returned an official verdict on that one count and the judge then threw it out because they deadlocked on other counts.
The forewoman reported in open court that the jury did, in fact reach a verdict of not guilty on both murder charges but they were deadlocked on the lesser charges.
From the dissenting opinion:
The forewoman reported that the jury had not voted on negligent homicide because the jurors couldnt get past the manslaughter count on which they were deadlocked. Id., at 65.
In this context, the forewomans announcement in open court that the jury was unanimous against conviction on capital and first-degree murder, id., at 6465, was an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes.2 Per Arkansas law, the jurys determination of reasonable doubt as to those offenses was an acquittal in essence. Hughes, 347 Ark., at 707, 66 S. W. 3d, at 651. By deciding that the State had failed to come forward with sufficient proof,the jury resolved the charges of capital and first-degree murder adversely to the State. Burks, 437 U. S., at 10. That acquittal cannot be reconsidered without putting Blueford twice in jeopardy.
If you're forthcoming about having a brain and being willing to use it, you're just allowing them to fill the jury box with compliant sheeple.
the 3 old hags of Endore...
Me too. The plain language is “tried,” not “acquitted.” He was tried.
Wow, my head just exploded...
Sorry, I meant “jeopardy,” which means “tried.”
But they still went back and were in further deliberation, having never made an official acquittal, as was the MAJORITY opinion. They were then dismissed.
All of the jurors were never questioned as to guilty or not guilty and never signed off on any verdict.
Do you think if any jury foreman states in any open court not guilty that should just be the end of it, regardless of any other circumstances?
I read both the Roberts opinion and the Sotomayor opinion. Roberts seemed to just blow off the whole notion that there is a double jeopardy clause in the Constitution. To Roberts procedure was more important than substance and he never addressed the original intent of the clause and just seemed to rely on pure technicalities and even blew off the FACT that the jury had already reached a decision that the defendant was not guilty of murder.
Sotomayor on the other hand wrote a very well reasoned appeal to the original intent of the Constitution and the meaning of the words and the problem that the founders wanted to ameliorate through the introduction of the double jeopardy clause. The fact that only Kagan and Ginsberg joined in the dissent is really troubling to me. My opinion of Roberts dropped considerably with his opinion here. I thought he tended towards originalism. It appears however that he tends toward pragmatism.
Did you even read the majority opinion? The constitution was given short shrift by Roberts and his whole decision relied on his own personal opinion of what constitutes a "verdict". Sotomayor wrote a classic argument for the original intent of the constitution. Sotomayor argued for the Constitution. Roberts argued for some form of procedural correctness and ignored the words of the constitution.
Read both opinions and then ask yourself which opinion sounded like it was written by a Justice who believes in Original intent.