A few weeks ago, the CGCCA decided United States v. Flores, a case about a mistrial.
After Appellee was convicted of multiple crimes, the judge declared a mistrial. On appeal, the CGCCA considered the following: (1) Does the Court have jurisdiction to review mistrial appeals; (2) did Appellee waive his opportunity for mistrial because he did not request one, and (3) did the military judge abuse his discretion in granting a mistrial. In a unanimous opinion, the CGCCA determined that it had jurisdiction and denied the Government’s appeal.
I. The Court Has Jurisdiction Over Mistrials
The Government argued that, within the meaning of Article 62 of the UCMJ, a mistrial does not terminate court proceedings. However, the Court found that a mistrial functions like a dismissal because the proceedings are done being considered by the lower court. Since the mistrial formally terminated the court proceedings, the Court had jurisdiction over the appeal
II. Appellee Did Not Waive Opportunity for Mistrial
The Government argued that Appellee waived his opportunity for a mistrial because he did not request one. However, the Court found that (1) the record did not support that Appellee relinquished his right to request a mistrial and (2) even if Appellee relinquished his right, the judge inquired about a potential mistrial. Therefore, Appellee did not waive the opportunity.
III. The Military Judge Did Not Abuse His Discretion
A military judge has the authority to declare a mistrial in the interest of justice. During deliberation, the members were given inadmissible evidence, and the judge determined that this jeopardized the fairness of the trial. Therefore, the Court found that it was within the judge’s discretion to declare a mistrial given the circumstances.
 Judge Brubaker authored the majority opinion, which was joined by Chief Judge McClelland, and Judge Bruce.
James Taglienti & Luke Alter
Senior Intern & Intern