While reviewing petition for cert, US Supreme Court rules on case

On behalf of Philip Nathe

Criminal procedure plays an important role in the life of a criminal case. It provides a structure within which both the prosecution and defense is supposed to adhere. Any procedural violations can have an outcome on the case.

Both prosecutors as well as defense attorneys in the state of Illinois were likely paying close attention to the United States Supreme Court’s response to a petition filed for review. The case, Martinez v. Illinois, concerned double jeopardy.

The background of the case is as follows. Several years ago the defendant was indicted for mob action and aggravated battery against two convicted felons. A directed verdict of not guilty was entered for the man when, after months of the prosecution seeking delays because the felons whose testimony was necessary were nowhere to be found, the judge ordered the case to continue. When the prosecution refused, upon the defense attorney’s request, the man was acquitted.

The state appealed that decision and the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in its favor. It determined that continuances should have been granted. When a new trial was ordered the man, who had been cleared of the charges, claimed that under the Fifth Amendment, another trial could not continue. In its disagreement with the man, the Illinois Supreme Court stated that the double jeopardy clause did not apply because the state chose to not participate in the first trial so he was “never at risk of conviction.”

A petition for the Supreme Court to review the case was then filed. When it came time to decide whether it would take the case however, the court made an interesting move. It issued a decision on the matter based solely on the petition. It determined that in ordering a second trial, the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights were being violated. It specifically pointed out that the state could have preserved the right to take that the man to trial, if rather than selecting a jury and allowing it to be sworn in, they request that the case be dismissed.

This decision bodes well not only for the man in this case but any other individuals who may find themselves in the same position.

Source: Breitbart, “Supreme Court Unanimously Overturns Illinois Court on Fifth Amendment Rights,” Ken Klukowski, May 28, 2014

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While reviewing petition for cert, US Supreme Court rules on case