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Justices uphold convictions in second trial after partial deadlock

January 15, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday upheld the convictions of a man involved in a fatal drunken-driving crash. The defendant was retried on all charges after a jury convicted him on some counts and deadlocked on others.

“We find no violation of either Indiana statutory or constitutional double jeopardy protections, and therefore affirm,” Justice Steven David wrote for the unanimous court in Jeffrey A. Cleary v. State of Indiana, 45S03-1404-CR-295.

Cleary was three times over the legal intoxication limit when he was driving home from a Hobart bar and struck a service vehicle. The collision killed Phillip Amsden, who was fixing a flat semi-truck tire. Cleary faced five criminal charges and three infractions, and the jury in his first trial convicted him of two misdemeanors and the infractions.

The state didn’t move for judgment on the verdicts, and the trial court denied Cleary’s motion to compel an entry of judgment. The court permitted the state to retry Cleary, and he was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

“Cleary says that the Indiana Code required the trial judge here to enter judgments of conviction on the first jury’s guilty verdicts, and if it had done so then those convictions would have statutorily prohibited his retrial on the same offenses. Additionally, he says those convictions would have implied acquittals in the charges for which his jury deadlocked, meaning the State could not retry those deadlocked charges, either,” David wrote.

“The Court of Appeals has previously resolved this very issue, in a way that rejects Cleary’s view of how the statutes operate. This Court has not squarely addressed the question until today, but we likewise find Cleary’s application of the statutes to be incorrect.”

The panel cited a similar case, Haddix v. State, 827 N.E.2d 1160, 1165 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), in which a man was tried a second time on drunken-driving-related charges after a jury deadlocked on the most serious charges in William Haddix’s first trial. Haddix failed to persuade the Indiana Supreme Court to grant a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to enter judgment after his first trial, and the verdicts in his second trial were affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

"We agree with the Haddix panel’s conclusion that Indiana Code § 35-41-4-3(a)’s implied acquittal provision does not apply when the jury returns a guilty verdict on a lesser-included offense but deadlocks on the greater charge,” David wrote.

Justices also denied Cleary’s double-jeopardy claim, reasoning that his second trial on greater offenses that deadlocked the first jury was “simply a continuation of the jeopardy.”

 

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