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Judgment of Acquittal

Judgment of Acquittal:

Today's letter is J.

I realize that I am cutting the timeline dangerously close with today's post. As I mentioned yesterday, events at home and work have prevented me from being an active participant this week, but by Saturday I will return to visiting your blogs and offering chances to win an Amazon gift card by answering a legal hypothetical. 

Judgment of Acquittal or as it is often referred to in the legal system: JOA

A motion for a JOA- Judgment of acquittal is a motion made by the defense (or upon the court's own motion) at the end of the state's case (can be made again at the conclusion of the defense case), requesting a dismissal of the case, on the grounds that the evidence introduced at trial, is not sufficient to convict the accused of the charge. If the motion is granted, the defendant is acquitted of the charge and ordinarily, double jeopardy bars subsequent prosecution of the case, even if the trial judge erred in granting the motion.

When a trial judge considers the defense motion for a JOA, the judge must look at the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. If the trial judge concludes, that a reasonable person, viewing the facts, in the light most favorable to the state, could not conclude, from the evidence that the defendant is guilty, he can grant a judgment of acquittal. The defense is arguing that the prosecution has failed to show a prima facie case.

The case is over...the end...without even going to the jury.

Yup, the jury sits through all the grueling and boring testimony (and the interesting and gruesome stuff, too) and the judge calls them back into the courtroom and tells them, they are dismissed. Thank you very much, for your days...weeks...months of sitting in those uncomfortable chairs for hours on end. You are no longer needed. Bye bye now. The jury is called back into the courtroom, because the motion is argued outside the presence of the jury.

If you were selected to serve on a jury and sat through a lengthy murder trial (think Casey Anthony or Jodi Arias) and at the conclusion of all the evidence, the judge dismissed you, thanked you for your time and informed you that your services were no longer required, would you be angry? Upset? Disappointed? Relieved? 

Point of reference: JOA's are not often granted & they are not even permitted in all jurisdictions. Louisiana does not allow a judge to grant a JOA in a criminal case. Florida, is one of the state's where a judge can grant a judgment of acquittal, at the conclusion of the prosecution's case in chief. 

I prosecuted in Florida, many, many years ago. I was an assistant state attorney, straight out of law school, for about three years, before returning to La. When I researched the legal term for this blog post, I was delighted to find a you tube clip. I was doing cartwheels and back flips when I discovered who the speaker was. Below, you can watch a very short, one minute clip, by renowned. Florida attorney, J. Kevin Hayslett. I had the honor of knowing him while I worked in Florida. In fact, I've called upon him, for advice and assistance, over the years, since leaving Florida.

If you return tomorrow evening, I will share with you, my most embarrassing story as a prosecutor. Remember, I said that JOA's are seldom granted. Tune in tomorrow for a story about my early days as a Florida prosecutor. I promise, it is one, I never planned to share.

Now hop over to 2013 A to Z sign up list, and visit some more blogs. That's what I'll be doing for most of the weekend. Time to play catch-UP.


Melissa Sugar said...

Great video clip- we want more from him

Melissa Sugar said...

As a juror, whether I was angry or not probably would depend on which way I was leaning on my vote. If I believed the defendant was innocent, I'd be okay. If I thought he was guilty, I think I'd be seriously annoyed.

Melissa Sugar said...

Hello, Melissa! That would be really rough. I always thought jurying should be a profession. You'd go to law school of course. I'm not sure exactly how it would work, but it makes more sense to me to have juries be professional rather than cititizens who would rather be somewhere else. Too often jury decisions make no sense, and I wonder if it's because they just wanted to get out of there and didn't even consider all of the facts and evidence. It's a shame.

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Melissa Sugar said...

I have never served on a jury...not once...but I think I would be pissed if I went through all that and had the rug pulled out from me. :)

Melissa Sugar said...

I can't wait to hear this embarrassing story. I have jury duty next week, it's always an interesting time.
Peanut Butter and Whine

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