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Name: Martinez v. Illinois
Case #: 13-5967
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 05/27/2014
Subsequent History: 134 S.Ct. 2070, 188 L.Ed.2d 1112

Jeopardy attached when the prosecution refused to participate in trial after the jury was sworn and the trial court’s directed not-guilty verdict bars retrial. Defendant was charged with aggravated battery and other offenses. The State obtained several continuances of trial to locate witnesses, but its last continuance request was denied. The State allowed the case to proceed; a jury was sworn. The State then refused to participate in the trial, whereupon the court granted the defense’s motion for a directed not-guilty verdict. The State appealed the denial of a continuance. Defendant responded that the appeal was improper because he was acquitted. The Illinois Appellate Court and Supreme Court rejected this argument, finding that jeopardy never attached because the State would not participate in the trial and therefore defendant was never at risk for conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and issued a per curiam opinion. Held: Reversed. Jeopardy attaches when the jury is empaneled and sworn. The Illinois Supreme Court misread the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents in suggesting that this is anything other than a bright-line rule. A finding jeopardy attached, however, only begins the inquiry whether retrial is prohibited. The question remains whether jeopardy ended in such a manner as to prevent retrial. A verdict of acquittal bars retrial and encompasses any ruling that the prosecution’s evidence cannot support a conviction. What constitutes an acquittal is not controlled by the form of the trial court’s action. Here, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion for directed findings of not guilty on both counts, which “is a textbook acquittal.” It was immaterial that the court referred to its action as a “dismissal” rather than an acquittal.