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The Liberty Loft
The Liberty Loft
8 Jul 2023
Bob Unruh

NextImg:Supremes open a door for prosecutors to get around double jeopardy limit
(Image by Maria from Pixabay)

A prominent civil rights organization is warning that behind the basics of a recent Supreme Court opinion is a new door for prosecutors to get around the double jeopardy restrictions in U.S. law.

That generally means a defendant cannot be prosecuted a second time once cleared of an offense, whether by acquittal or having a verdict overturned on appeal.

However, the new ruling, according to the legal experts at the Rutherford Institute, means that prosecutors can do exactly that.

It came about because a defendant in a Florida case was prosecuted before the wrong court. When that came to light, prosecutors simply wanted to restart the case in another jurisdiction.

“The Fifth and Sixth Amendments are supposed to serve as an antidote to the abuses of the American police state,” explained constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of “Battlefield America: The War on the American People.”

“People have a constitutional right to not be prosecuted twice for the same crime, and when and if they are accused of a crime, they have a right to know what they’re being charged with and are given the opportunity to have a fair, speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, the right to a lawyer, and the chance to confront and question their accusers.”

Rutherford’s report explained, “Although Timothy Smith was convicted for theft of trade secrets due to acts he committed while in Alabama involving computer servers located in the Middle District of Florida, he was charged and tried in the Northern District of Florida. Prior to trial, Smith moved to dismiss the charge for being brought in the wrong district in violation of the Constitution’s Venue Clause in Section 2 of Article III and the Sixth Amendment.

“Smith’s motion was denied and he was tried by a jury in the Northern District of Florida. After being found guilty, Smith appealed and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Smith’s conviction because he had been tried in the wrong district, but held that Smith could be subjected to trial again for the same offense in the proper district without implicating the Double Jeopardy Clause.”

The Supreme Court then declined to intervene.

Rutherford, joined by the Cato Institute and the National Association for Public Defense contended before the high court the Constitution requires a sufficient consequence to deter the government from selecting an unfair location and jury as the British Crown did by removing colonial defendants overseas to England for trial of charges like treason.

The high court’s rejection of the case was unanimous.

But, the Rutherford explained, what the justices did was defy “the very safeguards put in place by America’s founders to guard against prosecutorial misconduct.”

The Supreme Court said, in the case, on appeal after his conviction, “The Eleventh Circuit therefore vacated Smith’s conviction for theft of trade secrets.”

But it said it long has been “the rule that when a defendant obtains a reversal of a prior, unsatisfied conviction, he may be retried in the normal course of events.”

This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

This post originally appeared on WND News Center.