UNITED STATES V. WILSON, 420 U. S. 332 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Wilson, 420 U.S. 332 (1975)

United States v. Wilson

No. 73-1395

Argued December 9, 1974

Decided February 25, 1975

420 U.S. 332


The jury entered a guilty verdict against respondent for a federal offense, but on one of respondent's post-verdict motions, the District Court dismissed the indictment on the ground that the delay between the offense and the indictment prejudiced respondent's right to a fair trial. The Court of Appeals dismissed the Government's appeal on the ground that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred review of the District Court's ruling. Because the ruling was based on facts brought out at the trial, the Court of Appeals held it was, in effect, an acquittal.

Held: When a trial judge rules in favor of the defendant after a guilty verdict has been entered by the trier of fact, the Government may appeal from that ruling without contravening the Double Jeopardy Clause. Pp. 420 U. S. 335-353.

(a) That Clause protects against Government appeals only where there is a danger of subjecting the defendant to a second trial for the same offense, and hence such protection does not attach to a trial judge's post-verdict correction of an error of law which would not grant the prosecution a new trial or subject the defendant to multiple prosecutions. Pp. 420 U. S. 339-353.

(b) Here, the District Court's ruling in respondent's favor could be disposed of on appeal without subjecting him to a second trial at the Government's behest. If he prevails on appeal, the matter will become final, and the Government will not be permitted to bring a second prosecution for the same offense, whereas, if he loses, the case must return to the District Court for disposition of his remaining motions. P. 420 U. S. 353.

492 F.2d 1345, reversed and remanded.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 420 U. S. 353.

Page 420 U. S. 333

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