Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Defense lawyers: always move for judgment of acquittal.

In a somewhat narrow factual ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005, that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment bars a judge from re-considering guilt on a charge for the which the Court has already acquitted the defendant.

In Smith v. Massachussetts, the Court barred a judge who had already acquitted the defendant on one of three counts at his jury trial from reconsidering that judgment of acquittal.

See, full text of opinion:

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/22feb20051100/www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/04pdf/03-8661.pdf

This ruling appears quite narrow on its face. For defense lawyers, this means that Motions for Directed Verdicts or Judgments of Acquittal should be filed and fought in almost every case that is tried.

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