Case About Presumption of Judicial Vindictiveness

In Colten v. Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104, 32 L. Ed. 2d 584, 92 S. Ct. 1953 (1972), the Supreme Court considered a challenge to Kentucky's two-tier system for adjudicating misdemeanor offenses, which provided that these lesser crimes could be tried by an "inferior court" with the accused entitled to a de novo trial in a court of general jurisdiction if convicted after trial or a guilty plea. See 407 U.S. at 112-13. The defendant argued that this system violated the Due Process Clause as interpreted by Pearce, because the trial judge conducting the de novo trial was not bound by the sentence imposed by the inferior court. See Colten, 407 U.S. at 114. In rejecting the defendant's argument, the Supreme Court concluded: Our view of the Kentucky two-tier system of administering criminal justice . . . does not lead us to believe . . . that the hazard of being penalized for seeking a new trial, which underlay the holding of Pearce, also inheres in the de novo trial arrangement. Nor are we convinced that defendants convicted in Kentucky's inferior courts would be deterred from seeking a second trial out of fear of judicial vindictiveness. The possibility of vindictiveness, found to exist in Pearce, is not inherent in the Kentucky two-tier system. Id. at 116.