United States v. Mondragon

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-23-2013
  • Case #: 12-30360
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

When a defendant either consents to or moves for a mistrial, the applicability of the Double Jeopardy Clause hinges on whether the alleged misconduct was an attempt preclude the empaneled jury from eventually reaching a verdict.

At the outset of his criminal trial, the defendant, Garcia Mondragon, requested a settlement conference to be conducted with the assistance of a specific judge. However, the requested judge was unavailable. Instead, the trial judge decided to proceed and empaneled a jury. The settlement conference was held during a recess when the requested judge was available, following which the trial judge conducted a change-of-plea hearing and accepted Mondragon’s guilty plea. With Mondragon’s express statements that he did not oppose the declaration of a mistrial, the trial judge declared a mistrial. Weeks later, Mondragon was denied a motion to withdraw the guilty plea, and he appealed, which resulted in the Ninth Circuit’s order for a joint motion to vacate. On remand, the guilty plea was withdrawn, and the government filed a new indictment against Mondragon. Mondragon responded with a motion to dismiss under the Double Jeopardy Clause, which the trial court denied. Mondragon appealed, arguing that the trial court engaged in misconduct and that the misconduct constituted “goading,” specifically, that the trial judge meant for the settlement conference to achieve Mondragon’s consent to the mistrial. The Ninth Circuit held that the trial judge’s approval of Mondragon’s own application for a settlement conference did not constitute misconduct because the application of the double jeopardy standard, when a defendant consents or when the defendant moves for a mistrial, hinges on whether the alleged misconduct was an attempt preclude the empaneled jury from eventually reaching a verdict and not whether that alleged misconduct might have caused a mistrial. AFFIRMED.

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