Arizona v. Washington
434 U.S. 497 (1978)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona v. Washington, 434 U.S. 497 (1978)

Arizona v. Washington

No. 76-1168

Argued October 31, 1977

Decided February 21, 1978

434 U.S. 497

Syllabus

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.

Held:

1. Although the extent of the possible juror bias cannot be measured and some trial judges might have proceeded with the trial after giving the jury appropriate cautionary instructions, nevertheless the overriding interest in the evenhanded administration of justice requires that the highest degree of respect be accorded to the trial judge's decision to declare a mistrial based on his assessment of the prejudicial impact of defense counsel's opening statement. Pp. 434 U. S. 503-514.

2. The record supports the conclusion that the trial judge exercised "sound discretion" in declaring a mistrial, it appearing that he acted responsibly and deliberately and accorded careful consideration to respondent's interest in having the trial concluded in a single proceeding, and therefore the mistrial order is supported by the "high degree" of necessity required in a case of this kind. Pp. 434 U. S. 514-516.

3. Since the record provides sufficient justification for the trial judge's mistrial ruling, that ruling is not subject to collateral attack in a federal court simply because the judge failed to make an explicit finding of "manifest necessity" for a mistrial that would avoid a valid double jeopardy plea or to articulate on the record all the factors that informed the deliberate exercise of his discretion. Pp. 434 U. S. 516-517.

546 F.2d 829, reversed.

Page 434 U. S. 498

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., concurred in the result. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 434 U. S. 517. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 434 U. S. 519.

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.