Commonwealth v. Goods

The Pennsylvania Superior Court tentatively waded into choppy waters when wrestling with the defendant’s double jeopardy claim. The defendant was charged with firearms offenses and suffered a broken leg during the course of his arrest. At trial, his attorney sought to question the arresting officer with certain Facebook posts the officer made that were uncovered by the Plain View Project. The trial court sustained the Commonwealth’s objections to the questions and the witness never answered the questions. Nonetheless, the trial court granted the Commonwealth’s request for a mistrial and later denied the defendant’s motion to preclude retrial based on double jeopardy. The Superior Court noted that a new trial is permitted only if the defendant consents or the trial court’s declaration of a mistrial was a manifest necessity. The Court then dodged the question of whether defense counsel’s questions were appropriate, and held that the extreme remedy of a mistrial was unwarranted when an improper question went unanswered by the witness. As a result, the Superior Court reversed the lower court’s order and ordered that the matter be discharged.

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