The jury didn’t buy the state’s case at trial. After a grueling week of trial on a felony sex offense in Snohomish County, the jury simply couldn’t reach a decision and it deadlocked. But the jurors voted not guilty for our client at a rate of 2 to 1, so it wasn’t all bad. But a hung jury and a mistrial means that the state has the power to try the case all over again, and double jeopardy doesn’t apply. Would the state try to go for a round 2 against our client?
Even though my client was happy he wasn’t going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, we were both apprehensive about the future. The next trial date was just a month away, which didn’t leave much time to rest.
We had to spring into action, and the plan of attack was now to put as much pressure on the government as possible to drop the case. We knew that the state really didn’t want to have to try the case again, so in meetings and discussions with the prosecutor, we emphasized that the decision of the jury would very likely be the same result in a second or even (god forbid) a third trial in a case like this, which involved scant evidence, conflicting stories and uncooperative witnesses.
Though our client’s blood pressure was through the roof during the process, we finally broke through when, just days before the second trial was set to begin, the government conceded defeat and dismissed the charges, which was a tacit admission that it simply could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether someone committed a crime or not, there has to be proof. Our system is founded on that basic fact. If there is no proof, the only just outcome is a not guilty verdict or a dismissal of the case. A defense lawyer’s job sometimes is to remind the government of that.