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Blueford v. State of Arkansas (U.S. Sup. Ct.)

On December 2, 2011, CAC filed a brief in the Supreme Court supporting petitioner Alex Blueford in his appeal of the violation of his constitutional right against double jeopardy.  In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, permits the government to subject a criminal defendant to a second trial for the same serious charges of which a jury has acquitted him, simply because the jury deadlocked on a lesser-included offense. The Arkansas Supreme Court concluded that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not prevent the state from retrying Blueford on charges that the jury in his first trial unanimously rejected, relying on the fact that the jury deadlocked on a lesser-included offense.

Challenging the Arkansas ruling, CAC’s amicus curiae brief sets forth the text and history of the Double Jeopardy Clause –including English common law precedents and the Framers’ debates over the Bill of Rights –demonstrating that, under the Clause, a jury’s acquittal is final, barring either a new trial or a successive prosecution. The brief argues that giving prosecutors a second chance to convict Blueford of charges a jury has unanimously rejected conflicts with the Constitution’s text and history and the precedents of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard oral argument in Blueford on February 22, 2012.

CAC’s involvement in the Blueford case began in May 2011 at the certiorari stage in the Supreme Court.  CAC filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Blueford’s petition for a writ of certiorari, urging the Court to grant review to clarify the scope of the Double Jeopardy Clause’s protection of jury acquittals and to protect the core constitutional values at the heart of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.  On October 11, 2011, the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

On May 24, 2012, the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision upholding Arkansas' ruling that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not prevent the state from retrying Blueford. Read CAC's statement decrying the ruling as a "Sad Day for the Constitution" here.