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Would it be correct to say that the reason why judges do not have power to set aside a jury verdict of acquittal in a criminal case is precisely that that would violate a right to a trial by jury? Would there be other reasons besides that?

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Criminal conviction by a judge after acquittal by a jury would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of the 5th Amendment. A criminal conviction involves both a finding of fact and the application of the law, and a judge (unless this is a bench trial) doesn't find facts, he makes judgements of law. Overturning an acquittal after a jury trial would thus be in essence a whole new trial (moreover one where the defendant was not given a renewed opportunity to defend himself).

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  • It seems to me that an appellate court remanding of a case to the original court for a new trial after an appeal from an acquittal would violate the rule against double jeopardy, but if the appellate court reversed the verdict and found the defendant guilty after acquittal by a jury, rather than remanding the case, what that would violate would be the right to trial by jury. Do you disagree with that? Dec 11, 2023 at 20:33
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It's a "separation of powers."The judge's main job is to interpret the law (and the intersection of law and fact). Unless both sides agree to a "bench" trial, which is to say that the judge is then charged with trying facts, as well.

The whole purpose of "trial by jury" was to create a fact finder independent of the judge. Which is why either side can (often) demand a jury. A judge can overturn a jury finding, but only on grounds of "law." If a judge were able to overturn a jury finding of fact, the "separation" would be moot.

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  • Your edit to the title of the question could cause readers to think the question I was asking was the one in the title rather than in the body of the question. The question you put in the title is immensely broader than what I was asking. Jun 6, 2017 at 16:22
  • @MichaelHardy: In that case, "roll it back" to the original. Or leave it the way you now have it. My apologies.
    – Libra
    Jun 6, 2017 at 16:40
  • @Libra Sure, in civil court the judge could rule "Judgement not withstanding the verdict", but as far as I know, once a jury aquits you of crime, that is it.
    – GB - AE7OO
    Dec 18, 2019 at 6:57

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