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Justices rule trial court didn't err in granting mistrial

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The Indiana Supreme Court found that although a defendant didn’t consent to a mistrial, the trial judge didn’t abuse his discretion in finding that a mistrial was justified by “manifest necessity.”

Nathan Brock appealed his conviction of Class C felony operating a motor vehicle after forfeiture of driving privileges for life. He was charged with violating Indiana Code 9-30-10-17. His defense counsel made several improper statements to the jury, including insinuating that redacted material in Brock’s driving record may have been beneficial to Brock. The state moved for a mistrial, but Jay Superior Judge Max Ludy Jr. denied it and ordered that evidence would be reopened. After a short recess, Ludy decided to grant the request for a mistrial and discharged the jury.

Brock filed a motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds just before his second trial was to begin. The trial court denied that motion and he was convicted. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Brock waived his right to claim double jeopardy because he didn’t timely object to the state’s motion for a mistrial, and manifest necessity justified the judge’s decision.

In Nathan Brock v. State of Indiana, No. 38S02-1101-CR-8, the justices found Brock did not consent to the trial judge’s declaration of a mistrial, adopting the approach taken by the federal appellate courts which held that a defendant consents to a mistrial when he or she has an opportunity to object and fails to do so. These courts have also recognized that sometimes there is no opportunity to object and to prohibit a defendant from raising a double jeopardy claim under these circumstances would be too harsh, wrote Justice Frank Sullivan.

“Brock’s failure to object cannot be taken as tacit consent to mistrial in this case because there was no opportunity to raise a contemporaneous objection,” wrote the justice. “And the totality of the circumstances fails to reveal that Brock otherwise consented to the declaration of a mistrial.”

The Supreme Court agreed that manifest necessity supported the declaration of a mistrial. Brock’s counsel’s comments to the jury were improper, and Ludy gave the attorney several chances to explain himself and to continue with his closing without confusing the jury, but the attorney seemed to ignore the trial judge’s directions, wrote Sullivan. In addition, had the trial judge allowed the first trial to proceed and had defense counsel’s erroneous comments confused the jury to the point that it acquitted Brock, the state wouldn’t have been able to appeal that decision.
 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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