469 U.S. 1078 (1984)

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U.S. Supreme Court

RODRIGUES v. HAWAII , 469 U.S. 1078 (1984)

469 U.S. 1078

No. 83-6673

Supreme Court of the United States

December 10, 1984

The appeal is dismissed for want of jurisdiction. Treating the papers whereon the appeal was taken as a petition for writ of certiorari, certiorari is denied.

Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice MARSHALL joins, dissenting.

There are two facts of consequence in this case: first, at the time the case arose, Hawaii permitted the issue of insanity to be tried by a judge prior to the empaneling of a jury, and second, the defendant, who availed himself of this procedure, was acquitted. These facts raise an issue of substantial importance: may the State, consistent with the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, appeal an acquittal based upon insanity entered prior to the empaneling of a jury.


Rodrigo Rodrigues, a 23-year-old Marine, was indicted on three counts of sodomy and one count of rape. Prior to the empaneling of a jury, Rodrigues' attorney raised the defense of mental disease. Pursuant to Haw. Rev.Stat. 704-408 (1976), the trial court suspended preliminary proceedings, appointed a panel of three psychiatrists to examine the defendant, and proceeded to try the issue of insanity. [Footnote 1] Over the course of 10 days, both the

Page 469 U.S. 1078 , 1079

defendant and the State adduced extensive testimony as to the defendant's sanity. Five experts, two of whom served on the panel appointed by the court, testified that the defendant was afflicted with multiple- personality syndrome, a dissociative disorder in which an individual's personality separates into complicated and autonomous subpersonalities. The judge concluded that the defendant was insane and entered an acquittal . The State appealed. The Supreme Court of Hawaii, in a divided opinion, reversed and remanded on the ground that the trial court erred in weighing the evidence as to insanity. [Footnote 2]


This Court has repeatedly stated that a fundamental purpose of the Double Jeopardy Clause is to protect acquittals based upon the resolution of the factual elements of an offense. [Footnote 3]

"An acquittal is accorded special weight. 'The constitutional protection against double jeopardy unequivocally prohibits a second trial following an acquittal,' for the 'public interest in the finality of criminal judgments is so strong that an acquitted defendant may not be retried even though ' "the acquittal was based upon an egregiously erroneous foundation." See Fong Foo v. United States, 369 U.S. 141, 143 [, 672]. If the innocence of the accused has been confirmed by a final judgment, the Constitution conclusively presumes that a second trial would be unfair. Arizona v. Washington, 434 U.S.

Page 469 U.S. 1078 , 497

, at 503 [, at 829]. The law 'attaches particular significance to an acquittal.' United States v. Scott, 437 U.S., at 91 []." 4

The Court has also stated that because an acquittal based upon a finding of insanity constitutes such a resolution, it may not be appealed. 5 The rationale behind the principle according acquittals [469 U.S. 1078 , 1080]

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