legal/double jeopardy question

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Todd K, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    I have a question after reading this article:

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/08/04/arl....ap/index.html

    So someone can be arrested and tried twice for the same crime? I thought that was against the constitution? Or was it because a mistrial was declared the first time?

    On one hand, it's nice to know this killer was finally apprehended using modern technology, but on the other hand, it looks like he got off and five years later the feds showed up and said "just kidding."
     
  2. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    Cases can be reopened if there is new evidence. This works both ways(ie. people in prison set free after whatever is found).
     
  3. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    Bingo! My completely layperson's understanding: A mistrial is like a case being dismissed without prejudice, it can usually be brought again. A mistrial means that a judge has called an end to the proceedings because of an error/problem/etc before a verdict has been rendered. Double jeopardy only comes into play once a verdict has been reached. Once you've been acquitted or found not guilty of a crime, you cannot be tried again.
     
  4. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    So if someone shows up with a video of OJ stabbing Nicole and that other guy to death, he's still a free man?
     
  5. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    Well I'm another layman, but yes. He'd be a free man.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_jeapordy

    There are three essential protections included in double jeopardy: protection from being retried for the same crime after an acquittal; protection from retrial after a conviction; and protection from being punished multiple times for the same offense.

    and

    As double jeopardy only applies to charges that were the subject of an earlier final judgment, there are many situations in which it does not apply despite the appearance of a retrial. For example, a second trial held after a mistrial does not violate the double jeopardy clause, because a mistrial ends a trial prematurely without a judgment of guilty or not guilty. Cases which have been dismissed because of insufficient evidence may constitute a final judgment for these purposes, though many state and federal laws allow for limited prosecutorial appeals from these orders. A re-trial after a conviction has been reversed on appeal also does not violate double jeopardy, because the judgment in the first trial has been invalidated. In both of these cases, however, the previous trials do not entirely vanish. Testimony from them may be used in later retrials, such as to impeach contradictory testimony given at any subsequent proceeding.

    There are two exceptions to the general rule that the prosecution cannot appeal from an acquittal. If the earlier trial is proven to be a fraud or sham, double jeopardy will not prohibit a new trial. In Aleman v Judges of the Circuit Court (1998), an appeals court ruled that a man who bribed his trial judge and was acquitted of murder was allowed to be tried again, because his bribe prevented his first trial from actually putting him in jeopardy. The other exception is that prosecutors may appeal when a trial judge sets aside a jury verdict for conviction with a judgment notwithstanding the verdict for the defendant. A successful appeal by the prosecution would simply reinstate the jury verdict, and so would not place the defendant at risk of another trial.


    Technically you could may an arguement that the OJ trial could fall into the example above, but that would be a PR nightmare for the state to do.

    Andrew
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I'm not a layman, but it's been a long time since I had to deal with a double jeopardy question. From memory:

    He couldn't be tried by the State of California, but there's a little known (and somewhat controversial) branch to the law of double jeopardy that says you can have a federal prosecution after a state acquittal (or vice versa). The theory is that state and federal governments are separate sovereignties; therefore it's not the "same" crime when they indict someone for the same conduct. Of course, it's a rare occasion when the feds are motivated to pursue someone after a state acquittal, but it happens.

    M.
     
  7. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    Happened to ??Stacy Khuen?? in the Rodney King saga IIRC.

    Mort
     
  8. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    OK, I am NOT a lawyer, but I'll throw in my two cents:



    Also there is no federal statute the would cover the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman as murders. Except for certain federal officers, murder is a local crime. (Even killing the president wasn't a federal crime until after the Kenneday assassination. Technically that was simply a case of murder in the city of Dallas and should properly have been investigated and prosecuted by the local authorities.)

    What the Feds would have to do is assert jurisdiction under civil rights or similar law, as they did in a number of Klan investigations from the 1960s down to the present day. Killing someone pretty comprehensively deprives them of any and all civil rights, so this is a handy catch-all in cases where the Feds have both the evidence and the motivation to act. Such a prosectuion would not violate the protection against double jeopardy not only because a different sovereign entity is bringing the charge but because a different crime is, in fact, being alleged. Not murder, but deprivation of rights.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Because different sovereigns are involved, no court would ever have to undertake that analysis. If it did, the result might be as you suggest, but it might not. The question of whether two offenses are the same for purposes of double jeopardy has been much litigated, and the result isn't always straightforward (as least, as I remember it).

    It's all moot anyway. Once a different sovereign is involved, double jeopardy simply does not apply.

    M.
     
  10. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Not just acquittal. With the murder of Vincent Chin, the killers got probation and a small fine from the local judge. Public pressure caused the feds to go after them, but in the end it did not work.
     

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