Conditions for Mistrial In Idaho
Upon the motion of a defendant, a mistrial may be declared "when there occurs during the trial an error or legal defect in the proceedings . . . which is prejudicial to the defendant and deprives the defendant of a fair trial." Idaho Criminal Rule 29.1(a).
Our standard for reviewing the denial of a motion for a mistrial has been expressed as follows:
The question on appeal is not whether the trial judge reasonably exercised his discretion in light of circumstances existing when the mistrial motion was made.
Rather, the question must be whether the event which precipitated the motion for mistrial represented reversible error when viewed in the context of the full record.
Thus, where a motion for mistrial has been denied in a criminal case, the "abuse of discretion" standard is a misnomer.
The standard, more accurately stated, is one of reversible error.
Our focus is upon the continuing impact on the trial of the incident that triggered the mistrial motion.
The trial judge's refusal to declare a mistrial will be disturbed only if that incident, viewed retrospectively, constituted reversible error.
State v. Urquhart, 105 Idaho 92, 95, 665 P.2d 1102, 1105 (Ct. App. 1983). See also State v. Shepherd, 124 Idaho 54, 57, 855 P.2d 891, 894 (Ct. App. 1993).