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Double jeopardy does not prohibit state from retrying defendant on lesser charge

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Although a man’s conviction was overturned, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled he can still be retried on the same charge without violating double jeopardy prohibitions because “a rational jury” would have considered more than one element of the crime.

Andrew McWhorter was charged with murder following the shooting death of his girlfriend. At trial, the court also instructed the jury on voluntary manslaughter and reckless homicide.

The jury found McWhorter not guilty of murder but guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

McWhorter filed a post-conviction relief petition, contending the jury instruction was flawed since both murder and voluntary manslaughter contain the element that the defendant knowingly killed another person. He argued the court permitted the jury to re-deliberate the elements of murder when considering voluntary manslaughter even though it had already acquitted him of the higher charge.

The post-conviction court denied McWhorter’s petition. McWhorter appealed and the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the post-conviction court. However, when it remanded the case, it included the instructions that McWhorter may be retried on the charge of reckless homicide but not on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.

The state appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging the COA’s restriction on the charge with which McWhorter can be retried.

Based on the arguments McWhorter presented in his post-conviction relief petition, he asserted that retrying him on voluntary manslaughter would be double jeopardy.

He pointed out both the definition of murder and voluntary manslaughter share the same element that the defendant “knowingly killed” the victim. By finding him not guilty of murder, the jury has already determined he did not knowingly kill his girlfriend and, therefore the state should not be allowed another opportunity to present the issue.

In Andrew McWhorter v. State of Indiana, 33S01-1301-PC-7, the Supreme Court found no prohibition on retrying for reckless homicide or voluntary manslaughter. It noted other elements are included in the definitions of the two charges so “knowingly killed” was not the only single rationally conceivable issue in dispute before the jury.

 “…we conclude that a rational jury could have based McWhorter’s acquittal on an issue other than whether he acted knowingly,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote for the court. “Particularly given the presence of an instruction on voluntary manslaughter (flawed though it may have been), it is certainly conceivable that a rational jury could have determined that McWhorter acted knowingly but did so under mitigating circumstances.’


 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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