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Mansfield v. State – Fifth Amendment Case from Maryland

Mansfield v. State, 422 Md. 269 (2011).

            Fifth Amendment – Double Jeopardy

            The Defendant was on trial for the commission of a sexual offense against a minor.  The Defendant elected a jury trial, which was conducted before a trial judge that had previously presided over a jury trial of the Defendant in which he was found guilty of raping a minor.  The judge also knew of another of the Defendant’s convictions for a similar crime.  Prior to trial, the judge was informed that there would be no forensic evidence put forward showing the Defendant’s guilt, the defense would be that the Defendant did not commit the crime, and that the Defendant planned to testify.

After the evidence was presented the trial judge declared a mistrial stating that the trial had come down to a “he said – she said” scenario, the outcome of which would depend upon the credibility of the parties.  Noting that neither of the Defendant’s convictions for sexual offenses had been placed in the record and that she could not “extract” her knowledge of them “out of [her] brain,” the trial judge declared a mistrial.  The Court of Appeals held that the mistrial was not manifestly necessary and, thus, retrial of the Defendant was barred by Double Jeopardy.

The Court first noted that a mistrial should not be granted when there are “reasonable alternatives” that are “feasible and could cure the problem.”  The Court then explained the alternatives and how this case differed from Cornish: “Unlike in Cornish . . . where the information, on the basis of which the trial judge declared a mistrial, was conveyed to the trial judge in remarks made by the prosecutor during trial – after jeopardy had attached – here, the information known by this trial judge pre-dated the trial and, thus, the attachment of jeopardy.  In this case, what the trial judge knew when she declared a mistrial wand which prompted the mistrial was the same information she had prior to jeopardy attaching . . . Under these circumstances, when it is the court that is the trier of facts, and the court’s impartiality, whether due to a personal bias or prejudice towards a criminal defendant or an inability to resolve disputed factual allegations, is impaired, manifest necessity does not exist when the reasonable alternative of recusal existed prior to jeopardy attaching.”