LOCATION: Alameda County Sheriff's Office
DOCKET NO.: 76-1168
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 434 US 497 (1978)
ARGUED: Oct 31, 1977
DECIDED: Feb 21, 1978
Ed Bolding - for respondent
Stephen D. Neely - for petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for Arizona v. WashingtonAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 31, 1977 in Arizona v. Washington
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 21, 1978 in Arizona v. Washington
Warren E. Burger:
The judgments and opinion of the Court in 76-1168, Arizona and others against Washington will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.
John Paul Stevens:
George Washington Jr. was indicted for the murder of a hotel clerk in Tucson, Arizona.
During opening statements to the jury, defense counsel made certain prejudicial comments about the prosecution.
The state, therefore, moved for a mistrial.
After some evidence had been heard and after hearing extended argument, the Arizona trial judge granted the mistrial.
He did not, however, expressly find that there was manifest necessity for the ruling.
His action gave rise to the question whether a second trial would be barred by the double jeopardy clause of the federal constitution.
In a habeas corpus proceeding, the United States District Court for the district of Arizona, concluded that since the trial judge had not canvased on the record, the possibility that other alternatives such as careful instructions to the jury would minimize the risk of jury bias and since the trial judge had not expressly found that there was manifest necessity for a mistrial, the double jeopardy clause barred further prosecution.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed.
We granted certiorari and now reverse the judgment of the Ninth Circuit.
As we explained in an opinion filed with the clerk, a state trial judge has broad discretion in evaluating the significance of possible jury prejudice.
The reasons for the exercise of the trial judge's discretion in this case are adequately disclosed by the record.
We are unwilling to attach constitutional significance to his failure to make the expressed finding of manifest necessity that would have made the reviewing court's task easier to perform.
Accordingly the trial in the Arizona courts will be permitted to proceed.
Mr. Justice Blackmun concurs in the result.
Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion.
Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion which Mr. Justice Brennan has joined.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you, Mr. Justice Stevens.