Monday, April 19, 2010

Jeopardy Does not Attach to a Mistrial for Lack of Jurisdiction

Sometimes, when I’m in a more peculiar mood, I think it’s fun to title a post in an ambiguous and intriguing fashion, hoping that out of pure curiosity, readers will click to see what I’m writing about. Other times, it’s easier just to give the BLUF (bottom line up front). Today is the latter.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals (Fort Worth) released its opinion in Gallemore v. State last week and designated the opinion for publication because it “present[ed] important questions of Texas law.” One of those questions was: Does the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution prohibit a second prosecution of an accused after he has entered his plea in a bench trial where the judge declares a mistrial due to the court’s lack of jurisdiction?

Okay, so here’s the BLUF: No. The Double Jeopardy clause does not prohibit a retrial in a case in which the accused has entered a plea but the judge later determines that the court lacks jurisdiction and declares a mistrial.
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution provides that no person shall be subjected to twice having life or limb in jeopardy for the same offense. Generally, this clause protects against (1) a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal, (2) a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction, and (3) multiple punishments for the same offense. Further, double jeopardy principles do not forbid multiple trials of a single criminal charge if the first trial resulted in a mistrial that: (1) was justified under the manifest necessity doctrine; or (2) was requested or consented to by the defense, absent prosecutorial misconduct which forced the mistrial. A mistrial declared because of a jurisdictional defect in the indictment is one example of manifest necessity. (citations omitted)