Burks v. United States
Annotate this Case
437 U.S. 1 (1978)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978)
Burks v. United States
Argued November 28, 1977
Decided June 14, 1978
437 U.S. 1
Petitioner, in support of his insanity defense to a bank robbery charge, offered expert testimony, and the Government offered expert and lay testimony in rebuttal. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the District Court denied a motion for acquittal. The jury found petitioner guilty as charged, and thereafter his motion for a new trial on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict was denied. The Court of Appeals, holding that the Government had failed to rebut petitioner's proof as to insanity, reversed and remanded to the District Court to determine whether a directed verdict of acquittal should be entered or a new trial ordered, citing, inter alia, as authority for such a remand, 28 U.S.C. § 2106, which authorizes federal appellate courts to remand a cause and
"direct the entry of such appropriate judgment, decree, or order, or require such further proceedings to be had as may be just under the circumstances."
Held: The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment precludes a second trial once the reviewing court has found the evidence insufficient to sustain the jury's verdict of guilty, and the only "just" remedy available for that court under 28 U.S.C. § 2106 is the entry of a judgment of acquittal. Pp. 437 U. S. 5-18.
(a) For the purposes of determining whether the Double Jeopardy Clause precludes a second trial after the reversal of a conviction, a reversal based on insufficiency of evidence is to be distinguished from a reversal for trial error. In holding the evidence insufficient to sustain
guilt, an appellate court determines that the prosecution has failed to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Given the requirements for entry of a judgment of acquittal, to permit a second trial would negate the purpose of the Double Jeopardy Clause to forbid a second trial in which the prosecution would be afforded another opportunity to supply evidence that it failed to muster in the first trial. Pp. 437 U. S. 15-17.
(b) It makes no difference that a defendant has sought a new trial as one of his remedies, or even as the sole remedy, and he does not waive his right to a judgment of acquittal by moving for a new trial. Bryan v. United States, 338 U. S. 552; Sapir v. United States, 348 U. S. 373; Yates v. United States, 354 U. S. 298; and Forman v. United States, 361 U. S. 416, are overruled to the extent that they suggest such a waiver. Pp. 437 U. S. 17-18.
547 F.2d 968, reversed and remanded.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined except BLACKMUN, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.