On May 24, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Blueford v. Arkansas. This case involved a state court jury that had announced it was unanimous against guilt on charges of capital and first-degree murder, but ultimately deadlocked on a manslaughter charge. A mistrial was then declared and the jury discharged; there was no entry of a formal verdict. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause prohibited the prosecutors from trying the defendant a second time on the capital and first-degree murder charges.
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 6-3 that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not protect the defendant from being retried on the capital and first-degree murder charges. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, and Alito joined the Chief Justice’s opinion. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Ginsburg and Kagan.
To discuss the case, we have McGregor Scott, who is a Partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.