In the TV series Waco:Aftermath, a jury convicts defendants of some crimes but acquits them of some others. Their lawyer argues that the convictions don’t make sense and the judge agrees to vacate them.

Right when the defendants are about to be released, the judge reinstates their convictions and sends them to prison. This is seemingly based on a random change of heart, and there is no new evidence/developments.

This is supposedly based on a true story, but can a judge really do that? Isn’t it a violation of double jeopardy?


1 Answer 1


Courts have inherent jurisdiction to reconsider/recall their own decisions. This rarely happens (especially if the decision has already been "sealed" i.e. issued in writing) but still possible. The principle of finality only applies to parties asking courts to reconsider; it does not constrain courts themselves.

So, in this example, "the judge agrees to vacate them" but that decision hasn't been sealed yet. The judge can easily just change their mind (although, again, it rarely happens).

No double jeopardy applies because it is still the same trial.

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