California Landmark Cases on Mistrial

It is well settled that a trial court has the discretion to declare a mistrial when "an error too serious to be corrected has occurred." (Petrosyan v. Prince Corp. (2013) 223 Cal.App.4th 587, 593; see Abbott v. Mandiola (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 676, 682.) Among the recognized grounds for a mistrial are "'any ... irregularity that either legally or practically prevents ... either party from having a fair trial.'" (Clemente v. State of California (1985) 40 Cal.3d 202, 217.) Whether a particular trial incident has incurably damaged a party's right to a fair trial is by its nature largely a qualitative matter requiring an assessment of the entire trial setting. For this reason, trial courts are vested with wide discretion in ruling on mistrial motions. (Blumenthal v. Superior Court (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 672, 679.) The trial court, "present on the scene, is obviously the best judge of whether any error was so prejudicial to one of the parties as to warrant scrapping the proceedings up to that point." (Id. at p. 678.) A trial court should grant a mistrial only when a party's chances of receiving a fair trial have been irreparably damaged. (Id. at p. 679.)