United States v. Martin Linen Supply Company

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Martin Linen Supply Company
LOCATION: Craig's Residence

DOCKET NO.: 76-120
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 430 US 564 (1977)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1977
DECIDED: Apr 04, 1977

ADVOCATES:
Frank H. Easterbrook - for petitioner, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court
J. Burleson Smith - for respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Martin Linen Supply Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 23, 1977 in United States v. Martin Linen Supply Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 04, 1977 in United States v. Martin Linen Supply Company

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 75-1868, National Geographic Society against the California and 76-120, United States against Martin Linen Supply will each be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I'll announced first the opinion and judgment in United States v. Martin Linen Supply.

This is a case that arises under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Perhaps the most fundamental rule in double jeopardy jurisprudence is that an acquittal, however, erroneous is not appealable by the Government and that because the Double Jeopardy Clause flatly prohibits the Government from putting the defendant after acquittal to a trial a second time.

That barred to an appeal applies when the jury returns the verdict of acquittal after deliberation and also when the jury returns the verdict of acquittal upon order or direction of the trial judge to do so.

The question in this case is whether the constitutional bar applies in the case of the judgment of acquittal that was entered in this case.

Here, the jury deliberated and finally reported to the trial judge that it was hopelessly deadlocked.

Thereupon, the trial judge without directing the jurors to return the verdict of acquittal discharged them.

But Rule 29(c) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly provides and I'm quoting the rule, "If the jury is discharged without having returned the verdict, a motion for judgment of acquittal may be made within seven days after the jury is discharged and the Court may enter judgment of acquittal.”

That's the end of the quote.

The respondents in this case took advantage of that provision and within seven days after the jury is discharged filed a motion for judgment of acquittal.

Two months later, the trial judge granted the motion and entered the judgments of acquittal.

The Government's appeal from those judgments was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on the ground that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred the United States from trying the respondents a second time and therefore no appeal laid from the judgments of acquittal.

We agree and we affirmed, we too reject the Government's argument that the double jeopardy bar applies only when the jury hereafter deliberation or on direction of the trial judge returns a verdict of acquittal.

Since Rule 29 (c) have for its purpose affording the trial judge greater flexibility and timing, the judgment of acquittal no persuasive faces exists for construing Rule 29 (c) as weakening the trial court's binding authority for purposes of double jeopardy.

Mr. Justice Stevens being of the view that in any event has no statutory authority for a Government appeal from a judgment of acquittal in a criminal case has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

The Chief Justice dissents and has filed a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Rehnquist took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.