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Assume the following hypothetical case: a well-known multi-billionaire is holding an event with lots of invitees, (so there is no doubt about his identity), then in front of many witnesses and live cameras takes out a gun and murders several people, while saying that he is of sane mind, and intended to do this because they annoyed him.

It seems like a clear-cut case, his guilt is beyond all reasonable doubt. But at the trial, he is declared not guilty. Everyone is horrified, but he goes free.

Much later it comes to evidence that the judge and jury received ludicrous sums of money, and disappeared in a country with no extradition treaty.

Can someone be protected by double jeopardy in such a case?

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    The answers are correct. But it is worth noting that the fact that the act was heinous and obvious has nothing to do with the result. – ohwilleke Jan 26 at 1:33
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    @ohwilleke : I added "heinous" because there might be differences between the types or severities of crimes whether double jeopardy applies or not, and "obvious" so that it doesn't depend on whether it was beyond reasonable doubt or not. But still, thanks, the new title is better. – vsz Jan 26 at 14:18
  • If we generalize the idea that a first trial can be effectively "voided" because the judge was bribed; and say "because the trial was a sham": Then we could find similar egregious reasons why a trial is a sham (judge was drunk, lawyer was drunk) and void convictions on those grounds as well, even if all legal recourse has been exhausted. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jan 27 at 19:32
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    i kinda suspect 'double jeopardy' doesn't apply because there wasn't even a sort of 'single' jeopardy – BCLC Jan 28 at 1:50
  • This is just the kind of question where tagging it with a jurisdiction would be really useful. The rules vary widely. In Europe, most countries are signatories to the ECHR. Article 4 of the 7th Protocol allows a retrial if there has been a significant defect in the proceedings which gave rise to the double jeopardy in the first place. So European countries are likely to work in a similar way; but very differently from the USA. – Francis Davey Apr 21 at 20:43
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There is precedent for the idea that double jeopardy need not apply when the initial trial was a sham because the judge and/or jury had been bribed.

See Aleman v. Judges of Cook County Circuit Court, 138 F.3d 302 (7th Cir. 1998). This case was very similar to your hypothetical: Aleman was initially acquitted of a murder, but years later it came to light that he had bribed the judge (in a bench trial). He was retried and convicted in state court. He appealed his conviction on the grounds of double jeopardy, but the Seventh Circuit denied his appeal, accepting Illinois' argument that because of the bribe, Aleman was never "in jeopardy of life or limb" in the first place.

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    Now what about the judge? If it turns out that a judge has been bribed to give a false verdict, I assume there'd be some sort of legal action taken against the judge - censure at least, possibly disbarment and even potential corruption charges? – Darrel Hoffman Jan 26 at 20:28
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    @DarrelHoffman: That's a separate question, but yes, of course the judge would be liable to criminal prosecution for their role. In the hypothetical question at hand, the judge was assumed to be outside the reach of law. That was true in the Aleman case as well, because the judge died (by suicide) before charges could be brought. But it's irrelevant to whatever prosecution might be possible for the original defendant. – Nate Eldredge Jan 26 at 22:22
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    Nate Eldredge, is the following simplification correct? double jeopardy doesn't apply because there wasn't even a single jeopardy – BCLC Jan 28 at 1:49
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    @BCLC: Yes, in essence. From the Seventh Circuit opinion: "Based on this factual finding, the [Cook County] Circuit Court held that there was no double jeopardy bar to reprosecuting Aleman for the Logan murder because there was never any jeopardy at the first trial." – Nate Eldredge Jan 28 at 3:05
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    @MikeScott: They thought of that. Aleman apparently raised the point in his appeal that he had been in jeopardy, since for instance the judge might have gone back on their deal. But the Seventh Circuit rejected that argument: "Aleman may be correct that some risk of conviction still existed after Judge Wilson agreed to fix the case, but it cannot be said that the risk was the sort 'traditionally associated' with an impartial criminal justice system." – Nate Eldredge Jan 28 at 21:32
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No

No, it would not. When the Judge and/or the jury have been bribed or corruptly influenced, courts have held that the person on trial was never really in jeopardy at all, so the double jeopardy rule does not apply.

Such a case is described in this Chicago Tribune story from 1994, where the trial judge has been bribed.

The Wikipedia article mentions the same case, saying:

If the earlier trial is a fraud, double jeopardy will not prohibit a new trial because the party acquitted has prevented themselves from being placed into jeopardy to begin with. One such case is the trial of Harry Aleman, who was tried and acquitted in 1977 in Cook County, Illinois for the September 1972 death of William Logan. Nearly 20 years later, two persons under Federal Witness Protection came forward to state that Aleman murdered Logan and another individual, and also bribed the trial judge to return an acquittal. (Aleman v. Judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County, 138 F.3d 302 (7th Cir. 1998)

In the Aleman case, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit wrote:

[T]he Circuit Court held that there was no double jeopardy bar to reprosecuting Aleman for the Logan murder because there was never any jeopardy at the first trial.

...

Aleman's legal challenge presents a unique and interesting question, but it ultimately fares no better than his factual one. The Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause guarantees that no one shall "be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." Aleman argues that the Double Jeopardy Clause unambiguously bars his reindictment on the Logan murder charge because he faced trial on that murder charge in 1977 and was acquitted by Judge Wilson.

...

[P]reventing the hazards associated with risking conviction is the raison d'etre of the Double Jeopardy Clause:The underlying idea, one that is deeply ingrained in at least the Anglo-American system of jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent he may be found guilty.

...

Aleman had to endure none of these risks because he "fixed" his case ...

...

It seems only appropriate that a defendant should not be allowed to escape punishment for murder because he bribed the judge. To allow Aleman to profit from his bribery and escape all punishment for the Logan murder would be a perversion of justice, as well as establish an unseemly and dangerous incentive for criminal defendants. The Illinois courts' holdings, therefore, were not contrary to, or unreasonable applications of, federal law as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

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    is the following simplification correct? double jeopardy doesn't apply because there wasn't even a single jeopardy – BCLC Jan 28 at 1:49
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    @BCLC I wouldn't put it that way, but it is a clever way to summarize the issue, albeit somewhat misleading. I would say "double jeopardy doesn't apply because there was no real jeopardy the first time, as the fix was in." – David Siegel Jan 28 at 3:57
  • David Siegel, LOL ok thanks. you know nassim nicholas taleb says 'Heuristic: never nitpick a heuristic.' – BCLC Jan 28 at 9:47
  • David Siegel, do you disagree with the wording that Nate Eldredge (Jan 28 at 3:05) quoted? From the Seventh Circuit opinion: "Based on this factual finding, the [Cook County] Circuit Court held that there was no double jeopardy bar to reprosecuting Aleman for the Logan murder because there was never any jeopardy at the first trial." – BCLC May 30 at 3:42
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    @BCLC No, I think that says pretty much the same thing as I said in my comment above dated 28 Jan. Your comment about two hours previously was also not incorrect. It was only "misleading" in not making it clear, even in brief, why jeopardy never attached the first time (a very unusual situation), and on reconsidering it, "misleading" is to strong a term for that. In fact, I quotedsthe exact same passage in my answer above. – David Siegel May 30 at 13:52
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In double jeopardy would not apply as murder is a qualifying offence for a retrial follow an acquittal as per Part 10 and Schedule 5 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003

Part 10, s.75: Cases that may be retried

(1) This Part applies where a person has been acquitted of a qualifying offence in proceedings—

(a) on indictment in England and Wales,

(b) on appeal against a conviction, verdict or finding in proceedings on indictment in England and Wales, or

(c) on appeal from a decision on such an appeal.

(2) A person acquitted of an offence in proceedings mentioned in subsection (1) is treated for the purposes of that subsection as also acquitted of any qualifying offence of which he could have been convicted in the proceedings because of the first-mentioned offence being charged in the indictment, except an offence—

(a) of which he has been convicted,

(b) of which he has been found not guilty by reason of insanity, or

(c) in respect of which, in proceedings where he has been found to be under a disability (as defined by section 4 of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 (c. 84)), a finding has been made that he did the act or made the omission charged against him.

(3) References in subsections (1) and (2) to a qualifying offence do not include references to an offence which, at the time of the acquittal, was the subject of an order under section 77(1) or (3).

(4) This Part also applies where a person has been acquitted, in proceedings elsewhere than in the United Kingdom, of an offence under the law of the place where the proceedings were held, if the commission of the offence as alleged would have amounted to or included the commission (in the United Kingdom or elsewhere) of a qualifying offence.

(5) Conduct punishable under the law in force elsewhere than in the United Kingdom is an offence under that law for the purposes of subsection (4), however it is described in that law.

(6) This Part applies whether the acquittal was before or after the passing of this Act.

(7) References in this Part to acquittal are to acquittal in circumstances within subsection (1) or (4).

(8) In this Part “qualifying offence” means an offence listed in Part 1 of Schedule 5.

Part 1 of Schedule 5: Qualifying offences for purposes of Part 10

[...]

1 Murder.

[...]

Also, if for whatever reason the 2003 Act does not apply then s.54 to s.57 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 enables the High Court to make an order quashing an acquittal in circumstances where the acquittal resulted from interference with, or intimidation of, a juror or witness (or potential witness). In such circumstances, an acquitted person can be re-tried for the original offence.

s.54 Acquittals tainted by intimidation etc

(1) This section applies where—

(a) a person has been acquitted of an offence, and

(b) a person has been convicted of an administration of justice offence involving interference with or intimidation of a juror or a witness (or potential witness) in any proceedings which led to the acquittal.

(2) Where it appears to the court before which the person was convicted that—

(a) there is a real possibility that, but for the interference or intimidation, the acquitted person would not have been acquitted, and

(b) subsection (5) does not apply,

the court shall certify that it so appears.

(3) Where a court certifies under subsection (2) an application may be made to the High Court for an order quashing the acquittal, and the Court shall make the order if (but shall not do so unless) the four conditions in section 55 are satisfied.

(4) Where an order is made under subsection (3) proceedings may be taken against the acquitted person for the offence of which he was acquitted.

(5) This subsection applies if, because of lapse of time or for any other reason, it would be contrary to the interests of justice to take proceedings against the acquitted person for the offence of which he was acquitted.

s.55 Conditions for making order

(1) The first condition is that it appears to the High Court likely that, but for the interference or intimidation, the acquitted person would not have been acquitted.

(2) The second condition is that it does not appear to the Court that, because of lapse of time or for any other reason, it would be contrary to the interests of justice to take proceedings against the acquitted person for the offence of which he was acquitted.

(3) The third condition is that it appears to the Court that the acquitted person has been given a reasonable opportunity to make written representations to the Court.

(4) The fourth condition is that it appears to the Court that the conviction for the administration of justice offence will stand.

(5) In applying subsection (4) the Court shall—

(a) take into account all the information before it, but

(b) ignore the possibility of new factors coming to light.

(6) Accordingly, the fourth condition has the effect that the Court shall not make an order under section 54(3) if (for instance) it appears to the Court that any time allowed for giving notice of appeal has not expired or that an appeal is pending.

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No, this is actual case law from the case of Harry Aleman vs. Judges of the Criminal Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, et al., The Seventh Circut Court of the U.S. Federal Court system ruled that Double Jeopardy did not attach because Aleman's initial trial was a bench trial before a bribed Judge. Because Aleman was never "in jeopardy of life or limb" during the first trial before the judge he bribed to aquit him, Jeopardy did not attach to the first trial and his second trial for the same event was constitutional.

Notably the crime of bribery and jury tampering do not count as part of the same incident to the initial trial and are seperate incidents of crime. Thus if it is proven in court that the jury and judge were corruptly influenced in their findings by the defense, a new trial can happen despite the ban on Double Jeopardy. This is so increadibly rare, that Aleman is the only person in U.S. history to have a second trial for the same offenses (in the appelent system, typically retrials will act as if the initial trial never happened but are requested by the defendant, thus waiving his right to not have a second trial. Aleman did not waive his right, but was retried upon proof that he bribed the judge in his case to find in his favor.).

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    is the following simplification correct? double jeopardy doesn't apply because there wasn't even a single jeopardy – BCLC Jan 27 at 8:37
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    @BCLC: Pretty accurate summation of Aleman decision. He was never in Jeopardy in his original trial, therefor, Double Jeopardy hasn't attached, therefor we can try him a "second" time. – hszmv Jan 27 at 11:55
  • thank you hszmv! – BCLC Jan 28 at 1:49

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