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Court Holds that Defendants' Retrial Violated Double Jeopardy


Case: People v. Bentley

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )


Double jeopardy; U.S. Const. amend. V; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 15; Green v. United States; Principle that jeopardy attaches when the jury is impaneled & sworn; People v. Mehall; Principle that once jeopardy attaches the defendant has a constitutional right to have his case completed & decided by that tribunal; People v. Henry; “Manifest necessity”; Arizona v. Washington; People v. Echavarria; People v. Lett; United States v. Toribio-Lugo (1st Cir.); United States v. Shafer (4th Cir.); Huss v. Graves (8th Cir.); United States v. Bates (9th Cir.); Discretion in declaring a mistrial; United States v. Jorn; Johnson v. Karnes (6th Cir.); Waiver; People v. Tracey; United States v. Byrski (7th Cir.); State v. Stevens (ID); State v. Bernard(NH); Medina v. State (FL App.); Brewer v. Williams; Johnson v. Zerbst; Questioning of jurors; People v. Tate; People v. Messenger; Prentis v. Michel; Removal of a juror; MCR 6.410(A)


The court held that defendants’ retrial violated double jeopardy as it was not justified by manifest necessity. After their first trial ended in a mistrial, both defendants filed motions seeking to dismiss the charges against them on double jeopardy grounds. The trial court denied the motions and the retrial commenced. The jury acquitted defendants of assault with intent to murder, but convicted them of the lesser included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. It also convicted them of several weapons-related offenses. On appeal, the court agreed with defendants that retrial was barred on double jeopardy grounds. It first noted that “[b]y moving for a mistrial on grounds unrelated to the juror’s note, defendants did not waive their right to object to a mistrial granted on that basis.” It then found that “[e]ven applying exactly the same level of deference as did the Supreme Court in Washington,” the trial court “did not exercise sound discretion in ordering the mistrial.” It noted that “[w]hile juror bias is a legitimate basis for a mistrial decision, the trial court declared a mistrial without conducting any investigation of the facts before it pulled the trigger, and gave no heed to possible alternatives to dismissing the jury.” Further, “[i]n addition to abusing its discretion by sua sponte declaring a mistrial, the trial court committed a serious legal error when it decided against conducting any investigation into the truth of the note. Instead, based on rank hearsay the trial court speculated that defendant and the juror had committed misconduct. Such speculation does not give rise to manifest necessity.” Reversed.

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