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The prosecutor must shoulder the burden of justifying a mistrial if he is to avoid the double jeopardy bar. His burden is a heavy one. The prosecutor must demonstrate "manifest necessity" for any mistrial declared over the objection of the defendant.
After respondent was found guilty of murder, the Arizona trial court granted a new trial because the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. At the beginning of the new trial, the trial judge, after extended argument, granted the prosecutor's motion for a mistrial predicated on improper and prejudicial comment during defense counsel's opening statement that evidence had been hidden from respondent at the first trial, but the judge did not expressly find that there was "manifest necessity" for a mistrial or expressly state that he had considered alternative solutions. The Arizona Supreme Court refused to review the mistrial ruling, and respondent sought a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court. While agreeing that defense counsel's opening statement was improper, that court held that respondent could not be placed in further jeopardy and granted the writ because the state trial judge had failed to find "manifest necessity" for a mistrial. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Certiorari was granted.
Did the record reflect the kind of “necessity” for a mistrial ruling that will avoid a plea of double jeopardy?
On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court reversed. The Court held that the record reflected the high degree of "necessity" for a mistrial ruling such as to avoid a valid plea of double jeopardy, since the record showed that the trial judge, upon counsel's airing improper and highly prejudicial evidence before the jury, did not act precipitately in response to the prosecutor's request for a mistrial, but rather, evincing a concern for the possible double jeopardy consequences of an erroneous ruling, gave both defense counsel and the prosecutor full opportunity to explain their positions on the propriety of a mistrial, and thus demonstrated that the trial judge had exercised a sound discretion. Since the record provided sufficient justification for the trial court's ruling, the mistrial ruling was not subject to collateral attack in federal court simply because the trial judge failed to make an explicit finding of "manifest necessity" for a mistrial that would avoid a double jeopardy plea or failed to articulate on the record all factors informing the deliberate exercise of his discretion.