Peak v. Acuna

In Peak v. Acuna, 203 Ariz. 83, 50 P.3d 833 (2002), the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder. After the verdict was returned, she moved for judgment of acquittal under Rule 20 and also for a new trial under Rule 24.1, Ariz. R. Crim. P., 17 A.R.S. The trial court granted her motion for a new trial. On the state's appeal, this court affirmed that order. Thereafter, the defendant asked the trial court to dismiss the second-degree murder charge because the jury had acquitted her of manslaughter, which she claimed was a lesser- included offense. She argued a retrial would violate double jeopardy principles. The trial court denied that motion. On special action review, our supreme court rejected Peak's argument but found a "more serious issue" presented: "Whether double jeopardy bars retrial when a verdict is vacated because the evidence was insufficient or because the verdict was against the weight of the evidence." 203 Ariz. 83, P7, 50 P.3d 833, P7. Because the basis for the trial court's granting of a new trial was unclear, the supreme court remanded the case for the trial court to clarify its ruling. In doing so, the supreme court stated: If the relief granted by the Order was based solely on the finding that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, the judge may proceed with a new trial on any charge not barred by double jeopardy. If, on the other hand, the judge based her order on a finding that the evidence was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or that it was both insufficient for that purpose and against the weight of the evidence, then double jeopardy would be applicable and the second-degree murder charge should be dismissed with prejudice. Id. at P11