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Name: People v. Aranda
Case #: E056708
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/12/2013
Subsequent History: Review granted 12/18/13: S214116

The partial acquittal rule of Stone v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 503, survives in California criminal prosecutions notwithstanding the decision in Blueford v. Arkansas (2012) 132 S.Ct. 2044. Aranda was tried for murder. The jury was instructed on first degree murder as well as the lesser offenses of second degree murder and manslaughter. The jury was given guilty verdict forms for each offense but only one not guilty form. After deliberating for days the jury could not reach a verdict on all counts but did agree Aranda was not guilty of first degree murder. Defense counsel asked the court to send in a not guilty verdict form regarding first degree murder; the court refused, ordering the jury to continue deliberating. Ultimately the jury hung and the court declared a mistrial. The defense filed a motion to dismiss the first degree murder and lesser included offenses. The court dismissed the first degree murder charge because the trial court failed to allow the jury to return a not guilty verdict on that count. The prosecution appealed. Held: Affirmed. The Fifth Amendment does not permit retrial of a defendant after a mistrial unless it resulted from manifest necessity, i.e., a hung jury. The same rule, called “legal necessity” exists under the California Constitution. In Stone the court held that when a jury finds the defendant not guilty of the charged offense, but deadlocks on the lesser included offenses, the trial court must allow the jury to render a partial acquittal, otherwise, a mistrial lacks legal necessity. In Blueford the USSC found the Fifth Amendment does not require that a jury be allowed to return a partial acquittal; the prosecution here claimed that Blueford abrogated Stone. However, Blueford did not hold a state may not require an opportunity for a partial acquittal. Although the Court in Stone did not explicitly find the partial acquittal rule arises independently under the state constitution, “the court has made it clear that the legal necessity rule, of which the partial acquittal rule is a part, is a doctrine which arises independently under the California Constitution.” (Citing People v. Fields (1996) 13 Cal.4th 289.)