United States v. Martin Linen Supply Co.
430 U.S. 564 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Martin Linen Supply Co., 430 U.S. 564 (1977)

United States v. Martin Linen Supply Co.

No. 76-120

Argued February 23, 1977

Decided April 4, 1977

430 U.S. 564

Syllabus

After a deadlocked jury was discharged when unable to agree upon a verdict at the criminal contempt trial of respondent corporations, the District Judge granted respondents' timely motions for judgments of acquittal under Fed.Rule Crim.Proc. 29(c), which provides that "a motion for judgment of acquittal may be made . . . within 7 days after the jury is discharged [and] the court may enter judgment of acquittal. . . ." The Government appealed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731, which allows an appeal by the United States in a criminal case

"to a court of appeals from a . . . judgment . . . of a district court dismissing an indictment . . . except that no appeal shall lie where the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution prohibits further prosecution."

The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal.

Held: The Double Jeopardy Clause bars appellate review and retrial following a judgment of acquittal entered under Rule 29(c). Pp. 430 U. S. 568-576.

(a) The "controlling constitutional principle" of the Double Jeopardy Clause focuses on prohibitions against multiple trials, United States v. Wilson,420 U. S. 332, 420 U. S. 346, and where an appeal by the Government presents no threat of successive prosecutions, the Clause is not offended. Pp. 430 U. S. 568-570.

(b) The normal policy granting the Government the right to retry a defendant after a mistrial that does not determine the outcome of a trial does not apply here, since valid judgments of acquittal were entered on the express authority of, and in strict compliance with, Rule 29(c), and a successful governmental appeal reversing the judgments of acquittal would necessitate another trial or further proceedings to resolve factual issues going to the elements of the offense charged. Pp. 430 U. S. 570-571.

(c) The judgments of acquittal here were "acquittals" in substance as well as form, since the District Court plainly granted the Rule 29(c) motion on the express view that the Government had not proved facts constituting criminal contempt. Pp. 430 U. S. 571-572.

(d) Rule 29 recognizes no legal distinction between judge and jury with respect to the invocation of the protections of the Double Jeopardy Clause. P. 430 U. S. 573.

Page 430 U. S. 565

(e) Rule 29 contemplated no artificial distinctions between situations where the judge enters a judgment of acquittal prior to submission of the case to the jury under Rule 29(a), or after submission but prior to the jury's return of a verdict under Rule 29(b), and the jury is thereafter discharged, and the situation involved here, where the judge chose to await the outcome of the jury's deliberations and, upon its failure to reach a verdict, acted on a timely motion for acquittal after the jury's discharge. United States v. Sanford,429 U. S. 14, distinguished. Pp. 430 U. S. 573-575.

534 F.2d 585, affirmed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 430 U. S. 576. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 430 U. S. 581. REHNQUIST, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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