Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicago Criminal attorney comments on a former governor, mistrial, and double jeopardy

This Chicago Criminal attorney knows that there are a lot of questions about what happens now to former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
In Illinois, and whenever there is a jury, a decision of guilt on any count requires a unanimous decision.  This means that the majority doesn’t matter.  So long as one juror doesn’t agree then there cannot be a conviction entered.  In this case, the jury could only reach a decision of guilty on one of the twenty-four counts against the former Governor.

The jury is finally in on Rod Blagojevich — and the verdict is decidedly undecided. A federal jury of six men and six women just returned a split verdict against the former governor, convicting him on only one of the 24 criminal corruption counts he faced. The governor was found guilty of giving a false statement to federal agents. In a courthouse where prosecutors win more than 90 percent of the time and after listening to a treasure trove of secretly recorded conversations, the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the other 23 counts.
Judge James Zagel said he intends to declare a mistrial on the undecided counts. Federal prosecutor Reid Schar told the judge it is "absolutely our intention to retry this'' until there is a conclusion. They immediately starting talking about a future trial date.
A mistrial occurs, as in this instance, when a jury can’t reach a conclusion to verdict on a count.

How does this differ from Double Jeopardy?  Double jeopardy applies when a final judgment has been reached.  For example, if the jury had decided that Blagojevich was not guilty, then the government could not retry him, as they have already indicated they intend to do.  In this case, Double Jeopardy is inapplicable.

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