__ U.S. __ (2014), 13-5967, Martinez v. Illinois

Docket Nº:13-5967
Citation:__ U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 2070, 188 L.Ed.2d 1112, 82 U.S.L.W. 4414, 24 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 777
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Case Date:May 27, 2014
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page __

__ U.S. __ (2014)

134 S.Ct. 2070, 188 L.Ed.2d 1112, 82 U.S.L.W. 4414




No. 13-5967

United States Supreme Court

May 27, 2014


DECISION: Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy clause held to bar retrial of accused after trial judge granted accused's motion for directed verdict after jury was empaneled and sworn.


[134 S.Ct. 2071] PER CURIAM.

The trial of Esteban Martinez was set to begin on May 17, 2010. His counsel was ready; the State was not. When the court swore in the jury and invited the State to present its first witness, the State declined to present any evidence. So Martinez moved for a directed not-guilty verdict, and the court granted it. The State appealed, arguing that the trial court should have granted its motion for a continuance. The question is whether the Double Jeopardy Clause bars the State's attempt to appeal in the hope of subjecting Martinez to a new trial.

The Illinois Supreme Court manifestly erred in allowing the State's appeal, on the theory that jeopardy never attached because Martinez " was never at risk of conviction." [134 S.Ct. 2072] 2013 IL 113475, ¶ 39, 990 N.E.2d 215, 224, 371 Ill.Dec. 315. Our cases have repeatedly stated the bright-line rule that " jeopardy attaches when the jury is empaneled and sworn." Crist

v. Bretz, 437 U.S. 28, 35, 98 S.Ct. 2156, 57 L.Ed.2d 24 (1978); see infra, at ___, 188 L.Ed.2d, at 1117. There is simply no doubt that Martinez was subjected to jeopardy. And because the trial court found the State's evidence insufficient to sustain a conviction, there is equally no doubt that Martinez may not be retried.

We therefore grant Martinez's petition for certiorari and reverse the judgment of the Illinois Supreme Court.



The State of Illinois indicted Martinez in August 2006 on charges of aggravated battery and mob action against Avery Binion and Demarco Scott. But Martinez's trial date did not arrive for nearly four years. 1

The story picks up for present purposes on July 20, 2009, when the State moved to continue an August 3 trial date because it had not located the complaining witnesses, Binion and Scott. The State subpoenaed both men four days later, and the court rescheduled Martinez's trial to September 28. But the State sought another continuance, shortly before that date, because it still had not found Binion and Scott. The court rescheduled the trial to November 9, and the State reissued subpoenas. But November 9 came and went (the court continued the case when Martinez showed up late) and the trial was eventually delayed to the following March 29. In early February, the State yet again subpoenaed Binion and Scott. When March 29 arrived, the trial court granted the State an-other continuance. It reset the trial date for May 17 and ordered Binion and Scott to appear in court on May 10. And the State once more issued subpoenas. 2

On the morning of May 17, however, Binion and Scott were again nowhere to be found. At 8:30, when the trial was set to begin, the State asked for a brief continuance. The court offered to delay swearing the jurors until a complete jury had been empaneled and told the State that it could at that point either have the jury sworn or move to dismiss its case. When Binion and Scott still had not shown up after the jury was chosen, the court offered to call the other cases on its docket so as to delay swearing the jury a bit longer. But when all these delays had run out, Binion and Scott were still nowhere in sight. The State filed a written motion for a continuance, arguing that it was " unable to proceed" without Binion and Scott. Tr. 7. The court denied that motion:

" The case before the Court began on July 7, 2006. In two months we will then be embarking upon half a decade of pending a Class 3 felony. Avery Binion, Jr., and Demarco [Scott] are well known in Elgin, both are convicted felons. One would believe that the Elgin Police Department would know their whereabouts. They were ordered to be in court today. The Court will issue body writs for both of these gentlemen." In addition, the State's list of witnesses indicates twelve witnesses. Excluding Mr. Scott and Mr. Binion, that's ten witnesses. The Court would anticipate it would take every bit of today and most of tomorrow to get through ten witnesses. By then the People may [134 S.Ct. 2073] have had a chance to execute the arrest warrant body writs for these two gentlemen.

" The Court will deny the motion for continuance. I will swear the jury in in 15, 20 minutes. Perhaps you might want to send the police out to find these two gentlemen." Id., at 8-9.

After a brief recess, the court offered to delay the start of the trial for several more hours if the continuance would " be of any help" to the State. Id., at 9. But when the State made clear that Binion and Scott's " whereabouts" remained " unknown," the court concluded that the delay " would be a further waste of time." Id., at 10. The following colloquy ensued:

" THE COURT: . . . . It's a quarter to eleven and [Binion and Scott] have not appeared on their own will, so I'm going to bring the jury in now then to swear them.

" [The Prosecutor]: Okay. Your Honor, may I approach briefly? " THE COURT: Yes. " [The Prosecutor]: Your Honor, just so your Honor is aware, I know that it's the process to bring them in and swear them in; however, the State will not be participating in the trial. I wanted to let you know that. " THE COURT: Very well. We'll see how that works." Id., at 10-11.

The jury was then sworn. After instructing the jury, the court directed...

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