Saturday, February 23, 2008

Can Murder Acquittals Be Appealed?

If a person is found "not guilty" of a murder charge, can the state appeal the acquittal? I saw on the Department of Justice website that the Attorney General was appealing a conviction.

No. The state can never appeal an acquittal, which is a jury verdict. The state CAN appeal a legal ruling like the one below, where the appeals court said the conviction was vacated and a new trial was ordered. But the Attorney General is not appealing an acquittal.

MADISON - The Department of Justice will seek Supreme Court review of a Wisconsin court of appeals decision that reversed the 1996 first-degree reckless homicide conviction of Audrey Edmunds and ordered a new trial. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said that the Department of Justice will file a petition for review with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asking the Court to reverse the court of appeals' decision, thereby reinstating her conviction. Edmunds, a former Waunakee day care worker, was convicted after an eight-day trial by a Dane County jury of killing seven-month-old Natalie Beard.

"The court of appeals decision that vacates Edmunds' conviction and orders a new trial applies a novel legal analysis that may tend to upset the finality of all convictions where scientific evidence was properly adduced at trial and where a defendant had the opportunity to fairly and fully present his or her case," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office will represent the state before the Supreme Court. "We will ask the Wisconsin Supreme Court to carefully consider the merits of that legal analysis."

Helpful information:
Wisconsin Department of Justice website
Murder - definition