Sacrosanct to the rights and liberties established in the US Constitution is the freedom from double jeopardy. Once found not guilty, the accused cannot be retried for the same crime. Even back in 1787, the framers of the constitution understood the drastic imbalance between those accused of a crime and the power of the state. Then, as now, the chance of an innocent person going to prison far exceeded the possibility of a guilty criminal going free.
The Bill of Rights attached to our constitution was an attempt to level the very unbalanced playing field of the criminal courts. Double Jeopardy has stood the test of time and remains a shield of protection. Many countries of the world have written this security umbrella into their own constitution. Notable among the list:
On February 22 of this year, U.S authorities announced the arrest of Japanese businessman Kazuyoshi Miura on the island of the Saipan, a famous vacation spot for Japanese tourists in the
The Japanese courts are extremely severe on criminal suspects: the guilty rate hovers at 99.8%. Though he denied the charges, Miura was found guilty of assault. Yet despite the great odds, and in consideration of all the visits to
Why do the authorities want to retry Miura? The
Still there is one more reason which is blatantly obvious to the ranks of the criminal defense bar. The standard mentality of the typical district attorney is "win at all costs". Like the Super Bowl, the criminal courts are a contest with a clear winner and a loser. Losing is a great humiliation.
In order to solidify their position, the D.A.’s office has chosen rather specious tactics. They insist that conspiracy is not prosecuted in
In 2004, the State of
Japanese national Kazuyoshi Miura, despite great odds, has been found not guilty of the murder of his former wife. Charging and re-prosecuting the case disparages the integrity and the seriousness of the Japanese courts. It also denigrates the sanctity of the US Constitution, whose protections and freedoms have outlasted the wear and tear of time, and have been a model to other nations, including
Michael H. Fox is associate professor at Hyogo University, and director of the Japan Institute for the Study of Wrongful Arrests and Convictions (www.jiswac.org)