Oral argument: Feb. 22, 2012
Appealed from: Arkansas Supreme Court (Jan. 20, 2011)
The State of Arkansas brought charges against Alex Blueford for the murder of 20-month-old Matthew McFadden, Jr. Initially, the forewoman told the court that the jury unanimously agreed that Blueford had not committed capital murder or first-degree murder, but that it was unable to arrive at a verdict on the lesser-included offense of manslaughter, and had not reached the lesser-included offense of negligent homicide. Ultimately, the jury announced that it was deadlocked, and the court declared a mistrial. Blueford moved to prevent retrial of the murder charges, arguing that the jury had acquitted him on those counts. Arkansas contended that there was no acquittal because the hung jury was unable to reach a verdict. The Supreme Court of Arkansas denied Blueford’s motion, and he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Blueford argues that allowing a retrial on all the charges would violate the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause and allow the state to overreach its authority. Arkansas asserts that barring a retrial on the capital and first-degree murder charges would result in a partial verdict, which leads to jury decisions based on compromise and coercion. The Supreme Court's decision will affect the protections defendants receive from the threat of multiple trials, the pressure on juries to reach a conclusive decision, and whether a court must record a verdict before it becomes final.