Colloquy of Petulance
After the trial date was postponed five times, four of them because the complaining witnesses were nowhere to be found despite subpoenas, the court finally ordered that the trial proceed, and told the prosecutor to continue with other evidence and ten other witnesses while the police tracked down the "well known" missing convicted felon witnesses.
The court also offered to delay the trial by a few hours, and handled the rest of the day's docket before returning to Martinez's felony trial.
Instead, this happened:
THE COURT: . . . . It's a quarter to eleven and [the witnesses] have not appeared on their own will, so I'm going to bring the jury in now then to swear them.
[The Prosecutor]: Okay. Your Honor, may I approach briefly?
THE COURT: Yes
[The Prosecutor]: Your Honor, just so your Honor is aware, I know that it's the process to bring them in and swear them in; however, the State will not be participating in the trial. I wanted to let you know that.
THE COURT: Very well. We'll see how that works.
After the jury was sworn and instructed, the court directed the State to proceed. It declined to do so, repeatedly, stating, "Respectfully, your Honor, the State is not participating in this matter."
Bright Line Rule
Oddly enough, the Illinois Supreme Court found that Martinez could be retried, as he was "never at risk for conviction."
The U.S. Supreme Court couldn't have disagreed more:
A jury trial begins, and jeopardy attaches, when the jury is sworn. We have never suggested the exception perceived by the Illinois Supreme Court -- that jeopardy may not have attached where, under the circumstances of a particular case, the defendant was not genuinely at risk of conviction. Martinez was subjected to jeopardy because the jury in his case was sworn.
Pair a sworn jury with an acquittal, even one via a directed verdict, and Double Jeopardy clearly bars any retrial.
Next Time, Dismiss and Recharge
The per curiam opinion notes that this is not an unfair result for prosecutors or the public. Not only were there multiple granted continuances before the trial date, but on the day itself, the court repeatedly delayed swearing in the jury to buy more time for the prosecution, which declined to proceed. The court also told the State that it could "move to dismiss [its] case" and recharge and try Martinez at a later date.
Instead, the petulant prosecutors, irked over a denied continuance, refused to play along. Next time, take the court's advice.