Blueford v. Arkansas

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: May 24, 2012
  • Case #: 10–1320
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Justice Roberts delivered the Court's opinion, joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer and Alito. Justice Sotomayor dissented, and was joined by Justices Ginsburg and Kagan.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar a second trial on all charges where the first trial ended in a mistrial, even where the jury reported during the course of its deliberations that it was unanimous against guilt on some of the original charges.

Petitioner was tried for capital murder and the lesser included offenses of first-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide. The foreperson verbally reported to the trial judge that the jury members were unanimous against guilt for capital and first-degree murder, but unable to reach a verdict on the remaining charges. The jury deliberated further, but remained deadlocked. The trial judge declared a mistrial because of the deadlock. Petitioner argued that the jury's report amounted to an acquittal on the capital murder and first-degree murder charges and opposed the state's effort to retry him on all charges. The trial court denied the motion, and the state Supreme Court affirmed on interlocutory appeal.

The Supreme Court affirmed and held that because it was possible the jury revisited the offenses of capital and first-degree murder during the deliberations that followed the foreperson's report, that the report lacked the finality necessary to amount to an acquittal on those offenses. The Court also held that it was not improper for the trial court to declare a mistrial without obtaining from the jury partial verdict forms for any charges on which they unanimously acquitted the defendant.

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