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Name: Sattazahn v. Pennsylvania
Case #: Jan-74
Court: US Court of Appeals
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/14/2003
Subsequent History: Cross-cites: 123 S.Ct. 732; 154 L.Ed.2d 588

Where a defendant who is convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment successfully has his conviction reversed on appeal, jeopardy has not terminated. Therefore a life sentence imposed in connection with the initial conviction raises no double-jeopardy bar to a death sentence on retrial. The relevant inquiry is not whether the defendant received a life sentence the first time around, but whether the government failed to prove one or more aggravating circumstances which could result in a death sentence. Here, the jury deadlocked 9-to-3 on the penalty phase, and the court imposed the life sentence. Therefore, the entry of a life sentence by the judge was not an acquittal. J. Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter, and Breyer dissented.