Apr 22, 2007 Double jeopardy rights prevent retrial after mistrial for mistaken belief of no court jurisdiction
Double jeopardy rights prohibit judges sitting in criminal court from declaring mistrials over defendants’ objections and then retrying the defendant where the mistrial arises from the mistaken belief that the court had no jurisdiction over the matter or the defendant.
In Sanchez v. U.S., ___ A.2d ___ (D.C. April 5, 2007), the trial court declared a mistrial over defense counsel’s objection, mistakenly concluding that the court had no jurisdiction over the defendant, based on an indictment that the judge thought was defective. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court did have jurisdiction over the defendant without needing to declare a mistrial. Consequently, Defendant’s double jeopardy rights were violated, and a retrial was impermissible, even though defense counsel mistakenly agreed that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the original trial.
My ears always listen for double jeopardy issues. Four years ago, our law firm won a joint landmark double jeopardy victory with now-chief Public Defender Nancy Forster in State of Maryland v. Taylor, et al., 371 Md. 617, 810 A.2d 964 (2002). Full details on that double jeopardy victory are here. Jon Katz.