Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

KENNETH HART v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Double jeopardy — Manifest necessity for mistrial

Appellant Kenneth Hart was indicted on December 19, 2013, on numerous drug possession charges. The case proceeded to a jury trial on May 19, 2014. On May 20, 2014, the court submitted the following four counts to the jury: (1) possession with intent to distribute heroin; (2) possession of heroin; (3) possession of cocaine; and (4) possession of PCP. While the jury was deliberating, Hart complained of chest pains and was taken to the hospital. As a result, he was not in the courtroom when the jury sent out a note, informing the trial court that it was deadlocked and could not reach a verdict with respect to the possession with intent to distribute heroin count (“Count 1”).

In response to the note and after consultation with the lawyers, the trial court determined that the jury was deadlocked with respect to Count 1 and, therefore, declared a mistrial as to that count. The trial court received the jury’s verdict of guilty on Counts 2-4. Post-trial, Hart filed two relevant motions. First, he moved for a new trial on Counts 2-4 (the possession counts) because the verdict in those counts was taken in his absence, while he was seeking medical treatment.

That motion was granted and is of no further concern to us. Hart’s second motion was to dismiss Count 1 based on double jeopardy. The trial court denied this motion to dismiss and Hart has brought this interlocutory appeal to forestall retrial on that count.

Read the opinion here: