Reprosecution After Reversal on Defendant’s Appeal.
Generally, a defendant who is successful in having his conviction set aside on appeal may be tried again for the same offense, the assumption being made in the first case on the subject that, by appealing, a defendant has “waived” his objection to further prosecution by challenging the original conviction.126 Although it has characterized the “waiver” theory as “totally unsound and indefensible,”127 the Court has been hesitant in formulating a new theory in maintaining the practice.128
An exception to full application of the retrial rule exists, however, when defendant on trial for an offense is convicted of a lesser offense and succeeds in having that conviction set aside. Thus, in Green v. United States,129 the defendant had been placed on trial for first degree murder but convicted of second degree murder; the Court held that, following reversal of that conviction, he could not be tried again for first degree murder, although he certainly could be for second degree murder, on the theory that the first verdict was an implicit acquittal of the first degree murder charge.130 Even though the Court thought the jury’s action in the first trial was clearly erroneous, the Double Jeopardy Clause required that the jury’s implicit acquittal be respected.131
Still another exception arises out of appellate reversals grounded on evidentiary insufficiency. Thus, in Burks v. United States,132 the appellate court set aside the defendant’s conviction on the basis that the prosecution had failed to rebut defendant’s proof of insanity. In directing that the defendant could not be retried, the Court observed that if the trial court “had so held in the first instance, as the reviewing court said it should have done, a judgment of acquittal would have been entered and, of course, petitioner could not be retried for the same offense. . . . [I]t should make no difference that the reviewing court, rather than the trial court, determined the evidence to be insufficient.”133 The policy underlying the clause of not allowing the prosecution to make repeated efforts to convict forecloses giving the prosecution another opportunity to supply evidence which it failed to muster in the first proceeding. On the other hand, if a reviewing court reverses a jury conviction because of its disagreement on the weight rather than the sufficiency of the evidence, retrial is permitted; the appellate court’s decision does not mean that acquittal was the only proper course, hence the deference required for acquittals is not merited.134 Also, the Burks rule does not bar reprosecution following a reversal based on erroneous admission of evidence, even if the remaining properly admitted evidence would be insufficient to convict.135
- United States v. Ball, 163 U.S. 662 (1896). The English rule precluded a new trial in these circumstances, and circuit Justice Story adopted that view. United States v. Gilbert, 25 Fed. Cas. 1287 (No. 15,204) (C.C.D.Mass. 1834). The history is briefly surveyed in Justice Frankfurter’s dissent in Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 200–05 (1957).
- Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 197 (1957). The more recent cases continue to reject a “waiver” theory. E.g., United States v. Dinitz, 424 U.S. 600, 609 n.11 (1976); United States v. Scott, 437 U.S. 82, 99 (1978).
- Justice Holmes, dissenting in Kepner v. United States, 195 U.S. 100, 134 (1904), rejected the “waiver” theory and propounded a theory of “continuing jeopardy,” which also continues to be rejected. See discussion, supra. In some cases, a concept of “election” by the defendant has been suggested, United States v. Scott, 437 U.S. 82, 93 (1978); Jeffers v. United States, 432 U.S. 137, 152–54 (1977), but it is not clear how this formulation might differ from “waiver.” Chief Justice Burger has suggested that “probably a more satisfactory explanation” for permissibility of retrial in this situation “lies in analysis of the respective interests involved,” Breed v. Jones, 421 U.S. 519, 533–35 (1975), and a determination that on balance the interests of both prosecution and defense are well served by the rule. See United States v. Tateo, 377 U.S. 463, 466 (1964); Tibbs v. Florida, 457 U.S. 31, 39–40 (1982).
- 355 U.S. 184 (1957).
- The decision necessarily overruled Trono v. United States, 199 U.S. 521 (1905), although the Court purported to distinguish the decision. Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 194–97 (1957). See also Brantley v. Georgia, 217 U.S. 284 (1910) (no due process violation where defendant is convicted of higher offense on second trial).
- See also Price v. Georgia, 398 U.S. 323 (1970). The defendant was tried for murder and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He obtained a reversal, was again tried for murder, and again convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Acknowledging that, after reversal, Price could have been tried for involuntary manslaughter, the Court nonetheless reversed the second conviction because he had been subjected to the hazard of twice being tried for murder, in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause, and the effect on the jury of the murder charge being pressed could have prejudiced him to the extent of the second conviction. But cf. Morris v. Mathews, 475 U.S. 237 (1986) (inadequate showing of prejudice resulting from reducing jeopardy-barred conviction for aggravated murder to non-jeopardy-barred conviction for first degree murder). “To prevail in a case like this, the defendant must show that, but for the improper inclusion of the jeopardy-barred charge, the result of the proceeding probably would have been different.” Id. at 247.
- 437 U.S. 1 (1978).
- Id. at 10–11. See also Greene v. Massey, 437 U.S. 19 (1978) (remanding for determination whether appellate majority had reversed for insufficient evidence or whether some of the majority had based decision on trial error); Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40 (1981) (Burks applies where appellate court finds some but insufficient evidence adduced, not only where it finds no evidence). Burks was distinguished in Justices of Boston Mun. Court v. Lydon, 466 U.S. 294 (1984), which held that a defendant who had elected to undergo a bench trial with no appellate review but with the right of trial de novo before a jury (and with appellate review available) could not bar trial de novo and reverse his bench trial conviction by asserting that the conviction had been based on insufficient evidence. The two-tiered system in effect gave the defendant two chances at acquittal; under those circumstances jeopardy was not terminated by completion of the first entirely optional stage.
- Tibbs v. Florida, 457 U.S. 31 (1982). The decision was 5-to-4, the dissent arguing that weight and insufficiency determinations should be given identical Double Jeopardy Clause treatment. Id. at 47 (Justices White, Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun).
- Lockhart v. Nelson, 488 U.S. 33 (1988) (state may reprosecute under habitual offender statute even though evidence of a prior conviction was improperly admitted; at retrial, state may attempt to establish other prior convictions as to which no proof was offered at prior trial).