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October 12, 2011

SCOTUS adds capital Double Jeopardy case from Arkansas to its docket

As reported in this SCOTUSblog post, yesterday the Supreme Court granted cert on a case from Arkansas which coincerns "the scope of the Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy, when a jury has voted against a guilty verdict on a serious offense, but deadlocks on a lesser crime and prosecutors seek a retrial on the greater crime."  Here are the basics via Lyle Denniston's reporting:   

The [criminal justice] newly granted case was Blueford v. Arkansas (docket 10-1320). At the murder trial of Alex Blueford, the trial judge told the jury to consider capital murder and three lesser crimes — first-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide. It should not consider any of those, the judge said, unless it first agreed unanimously that Blueford was not guilty of a greater offense, in order of the seriousness of the offense. The forewoman announced in court that the jury had voted unanimously against capital murder and first-degree murder, and had deadlocked on manslaughter so it did not consider the negligent homicide charge, a more serious charge.   The judge granted a mistrial, rejecting defense lawyers’ plea to declare a partial verdict of acquittal on capital murder and first-degree murder.  When Blueford was retried, prosecutors pursued guilty verdicts on all of the prior charges.  The trial judge refused to dismiss the more serious charges, and Blueford then lost a pre-trial appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court.  Lower courts are split on the double jeopardy question.

October 12, 2011 at 07:20 AM | Permalink


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If you have a moment to read the Ark. S. Crt.'s opinion, it is worth it. The analysis is very interesting and technical. I'm not sure I agree with it. Having the foreperson announce that the jury has voted 12-0 to acquit sure feels like an acquittal to me, but there is interesting rationale there.

Posted by: Ala JD | Oct 12, 2011 11:19:02 AM

i agree ala jd! this is a dead issue once that happened. jeopardy attached. trial is over!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 13, 2011 11:14:00 AM

from where i sit right now. the judge, da and anyone else who was part of this ILELGAL so-called retrial are the CRIMINALS not the defedant!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 13, 2011 11:15:22 AM

This certainly looks like an elementary case for finding that a retrial was not permitted by the constitution on the most serious charge (and reflects quite poorly on Arkansas as well).

Posted by: ohwilleke | Oct 13, 2011 10:05:01 PM

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