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Name: Blueford v. Arkansas
Case #: 10-1320
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 05/24/2012
Subsequent History: 132 S.Ct. 2044; 182 L.Ed.2d 937
Summary

Double jeopardy does not bar retrial where, prior to conclusion of deliberations, the jury foreperson announces the jury was unanimous against conviction for murder, but no verdict was rendered on this finding. Defendant was tried for the capital murder of his girlfriend’s one year-old son. The verdict forms allowed the jury to either (1) convict the defendant of capital murder or its lesser offenses or (2) acquit the defendant if the jury found he had not committed any offense. No form allowed the jury to acquit on some offenses but not others. Before deliberations were concluded, the jury reported it was unanimous against guilt for capital and first degree murder and was deadlocked on manslaughter. The trial court instructed the jury to continue deliberations; a defense request for partial verdicts was denied. No verdict was reached and the court declared a mistrial. When the state subsequently sought to retry defendant, he moved to dismiss the capital and first degree murder charges on double jeopardy grounds. His motion was denied. Affirmed. The foreperson’s announcement the jury was unanimous in its vote against guilt of capital murder and first degree murder lacked the finality necessary to amount to an acquittal of murder as deliberations had not yet concluded. In fact, the jury deliberated further after this pronouncement and could have reconsidered its vote on the capital and first degree murder charges. Defendant also asserted a double jeopardy bar because there was no necessity for the trial court to declare a mistrial on the capital and first degree murder charges in light of the jury’s vote against guilt. As permitted under Arkansas law, the jury’s only options in this case were to either convict on one of the offenses or acquit on all. The trial court was not required to take a partial verdict to allow the jury to give effect to its vote on the capital and first degree murder charges.