mistrial


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Mistrial

A courtroom trial that has been terminated prior to its normal conclusion. A mistrial has no legal effect and is considered an invalid or nugatory trial. It differs from a "new trial," which recognizes that a trial was completed but was set aside so that the issues could be tried again.

A judge may declare a mistrial for several reasons, including lack of jurisdiction, incorrect jury selection, or a deadlocked, or hung, jury. A deadlocked jury—where the jurors cannot agree over the defendant's guilt or innocence—is a common reason for declaring a mistrial. Extraordinary circumstances, such as death or illness of a necessary juror or an attorney, may also result in a mistrial. A mistrial may also result from a fundamental error so prejudicial to the defendant that it cannot be cured by appropriate instructions to the jury, such as improper remarks made during the prosecution's summation.

In determining whether to declare a mistrial, the court must decide whether the error is so prejudicial and fundamental that expenditure of further time and expense would be wasteful, if not futile. Although the judge has the power to declare a mistrial and discharge a jury, this power should be "exercised with great care and only in cases of absolute necessity" (Salvatore v. State of Florida, 366 So. 2d 745 [Fla. 1978], cert. denied, 444 U.S. 885, 100 S. Ct. 177, 62 L. Ed. 2d 115 [1979]).

For example, in Ferguson v. State, 417 So. 2d 639 (Fla. 1982), the defendant moved for a mistrial because of an allegedly improper comment made by the prosecution during closing argument. The prosecution stated that not only was defense counsel asking the jury to find a scapegoat for the defendant's guilt, he was also putting the blame on someone who had already been found guilty. The appellate court found that the lower court had properly denied the motion for a mistrial because the prosecutor's comment fell within the bounds of "fair reply."

A mistrial in a criminal prosecution may prevent retrial under the Double Jeopardy provision of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits an individual from being tried twice for the same offense, unless required by the interests of justice and depending on which party moved for the mistrial. Typically, there is no bar to a retrial if the defendant requests or consents to a mistrial. A retrial may be barred if the court grants a mistrial without the defendant's consent, or over his objection. If the mistrial results from judicial or prosecutorial misconduct, a retrial will be barred. In United States v. Jorn, 400 U.S. 470, 91 S. Ct. 547, 27 L. Ed. 2d 543 (1971), the Supreme Court held that reprosecuting the defendant would constitute double jeopardy because the judge had abused his discretion in declaring a mistrial. On his own motion, the judge had declared a mistrial to enable government witnesses to consult with their own attorneys.

Cross-references

Criminal Procedure; Harmless Error; Hung Jury.

mistrial

n. the termination of a trial before its normal conclusion because of a procedural error, statements by a witness, judge or attorney which prejudice a jury, a deadlock by a jury without reaching a verdict after lengthy deliberation (a "hung" jury), or the failure to complete a trial within the time set by the court. When such situations arise, the judge, either on his own initiative or upon the motion (request) of one of the parties will "declare a mistrial," dismiss the jury if there is one, and direct that the lawsuit or criminal prosecution be set for trial again, starting from the beginning. (See: trial)

mistrial

noun abrogation, annulment, cancellation, collapse, disannulment, erroneous trial, failure, fruitless trial, innffective trial, invalid trial, nonfulfillment, nugaaory trial, nullification, nullity, revocation, terminated trial, unproductive trial, unsuccessful trial, useless trial, void trial, worthless trial
Associated concepts: deadlocked jury, declaration of a missrial, prejudicial error

mistrial

a trial made void because of some error, such as a defect in procedure. In the US an inconclusive trial, as when a jury cannot agree on a verdict.

MISTRIAL. An erroneous trial on account of some defect in the persons trying, as if the jury come from the wrong county or because there was no issue formed, as if no plea be entered; or some other defect of jurisdiction. 3 Cro. 284; Hob. 5; 2 M. & S. 270.

References in periodicals archive ?
The rationale for the exception to the general rule permitting retrial after a mistrial declared with the defendant's consent is illustrated by the situation in which the prosecutor commits prejudicial error with the intent to provoke a mistrial....
Brian Taylor of the Black Lives Matter movement in Cincinnati called the mistrial "blatant injustice" and a "textbook example" of institutionalized racism in the US.
Kelly Blackburn, the assistant Montgomery County district attorney trying Reynolds' case, confirmed the mistrial and said that a new trial had been set for Jan.
There was a mistrial and a reopen of the case is a must!," netizen Jamie Uy commented in the petition.
The trial ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury, and Haefner spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name in civil court.
Polk District County Judge Samantha Gronewald declared the mistrial April 17 after jurors informed the court they had been deadlocked five to one three times during deliberation after the trial of Ed Bloomer, Greg Boertje-Obed and Brian Hynes.
The Friday decision in Cosby's retrial comes after his initial trial in (http://www.tmz.com/2017/06/17/bill-cosby-mistrial-sexual-assault-case/) June 2017 , which resulted in a mistrial because of two not guilty holdouts by the jury.
After dozens of allegations of sexual assault, a mistrial caused by a hung jury and a lot of mud-slinging, American TV legend Bill Cosby was finally found guilty this week of three counts of drugging and molesting one young woman.
A jury question about dueling standards for workplace exposure to chemicals led a Laclede County Circuit Judge to declare a mistrial in a long-running case.
Justice James Wakiaga said Onyancha's charge and subsequent sentencing was a mistrial.
judge on Tuesday refused to order a mistrial in the case of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank who is charged with helping Iran evade U.S.
YESTERDAY'S SOLUTIONS WEE THINKER ACROSS: 7 Antwerp 9 Break 10 Excel 11 Lateral 12 USA 13 Menacing 16 Conserve 17 Ref 19 Theorem 21 Plush 22 Korma 23 Cistern DOWN: 1 Gateaux 2 Staccato 3 Hell 4 Obstacle 5 Gear 6 Skull 8 Palindromic 13 Mistrial 14 Nurtures 15 Afghans 18 Stoke 20 Earn 21 Puss