Monday, January 12, 2009

Convictions (on Fourth Attempt) Don't Violate Double Jeopardy

US v. Hall: Hall and his codefendant, Handy, were repeatedly prosecuted by the Government for their roles in a complex drug trafficking scheme. Twice they were tried in the District of Columbia, but the jury either acquitted or hung on the charges and mistrials were declared. The prosecution shifted to Maryland, where the defendants were tried twice. The first trial resulted in a mistrial after another hung jury. A second trial, at which the defendants were pro se, they were convicted on multiple counts, including conspiracy, use of a communications facility during a drug trafficking crime, and possession with intent to distribute.

On appeal, the defendants raised numerous procedural challenges to their conviction, all of which were rejected by the Fourth Circuit. First, the court concluded that the defendants were not subject to double jeopardy during the repeated prosecutions because the offenses of which they were ultimately convicted were not the same as the charges of which they were acquitted during the trials in DC. The court also concluded that there was no other double jeopardy violation in the multiple retrials. The court also turned away a collateral estoppel challenge to the conspiracy conviction, concluding that no facts essential to that conviction were previously resolved in the defendants' favor during the DC proceedings. Finally, the court concluded that there was no improper delay between the charging and conviction of the defendants.

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