22 February 2005

Where the Scores Can Really Change!

The Supreme Court today expanded the scope of the double jeopardy concept to disallow reconsideration of directed verdicts (PDF, 221kb) by the trial judge. Although in substance this isn't surprising, in the context of this Court it is not entirely expected.

Basically, the Court held that once a judge says something that functions as an acquittal, jeopardy attaches. This overcomes any state procedural rule holding otherwise; the state court's interpretation of its rules is not binding on the Supreme Court for purposes of federal constitutional law. The majority opinion, by Justice Scalia, garnered support from Justices Stevens, O'Connor, Souter, and Thomas. That's not exactly the "ordinary" sort of majority in a case expanding the rights of a criminal defendant!