Original petition for a writ of mandamus, or in the
alternative, prohibition in a criminal matter.
M. Schieck, Special Public Defender, and Robert Arroyo,
Alzora B. Jackson, and JoNell Thomas, Deputy Special Public
Defenders, Clark County, for Petitioner.
Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B.
Wolfson, District Attorney, Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy
District Attorney, and Nicole J. Cannizzaro and Kenneth N.
Portz, Deputy District Attorneys, Clark County, for Real
Party in Interest.
THE COURT EN BANC.
Gambino Granada-Ruiz stood trial on charges of murder and
battery with substantial bodily harm. During a weekend recess
in jury deliberations, one juror conducted extrinsic legal
research and shared that information with other jurors when
deliberations resumed. After considering argument from
counsel and canvassing two jurors, the district court
declared a mistrial. Granada-Ruiz moved to dismiss the
charges based on a constitutional double jeopardy theory. The
district court denied the motion and set the matter for a new
trial. Granada-Ruiz petitions this court for a writ of
mandamus directing the district court to grant his
motion to dismiss and bar his re-prosecution following the
mistrial. We conclude that double jeopardy does not prohibit
Granada-Ruiz's retrial under the totality of the
circumstances because he impliedly consented to the district
court's declaration of a mistrial, and the district court
did not abuse its discretion in finding manifest necessity to
declare a mistrial. Therefore, we deny Granada-Ruiz's
petition on the merits.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
State charged Granada-Ruiz with murder and battery resulting
in substantial bodily harm. Whether Granada-Ruiz and the
victim had a physical altercation was not at issue, and the
trial hinged on whether Granada-Ruiz acted in self-defense.
The trial proceeded to jury deliberations without incident.
On the second day of deliberations, however, the district
court received two notes from jurors. The first note was from
Juror No. 12 and claimed that Juror No. 3 had performed
external legal research on the internet the previous weekend.
The second note was from Juror No. 3 and stated that he had
researched legal definitions and was unwilling to disregard
what he had found.
district court summoned both parties and, before Granada-Ruiz
arrived, informed counsel for both sides of the developments
and that the district court would need to determine if
further deliberations were possible. The district court
stated that it would canvass the jurors to determine whether
the information had been shared, the nature and scope of the
taint, and whether the deliberative process had been so
compromised to necessitate a mistrial.
State suggested that the district court conduct a two-part
inquiry to determine whether the information had been shared
and whether the remaining jurors would be able to disregard
it. It further posited that, because Juror No. 3 had
separated himself from the other jurors, his research may not
have affected their deliberations. Granada-Ruiz's counsel
disagreed, stating that external research entering the
deliberation room was inherently a problem, creating the
possibility that it "infect[ed] the jury." The
district court again indicated that if canvassing revealed
the external research had been shared amongst the jurors,
deliberations may be irreparably tainted and whether the
trial continued would ultimately be up to the court.
Granada-Ruiz's arrival, the district court apprised him
of what had occurred and allowed the parties to present the
caselaw they had found in the meantime. To determine the
nature and extent of the taint, the district court called the
foreperson for canvassing. The foreperson stated that
although multiple jurors had informed Juror No. 3 that he
should not attempt to discuss his external research, the
deliberations throughout the day included discussions about
Juror No. 3's external research concerning the
definitions of premeditation and self-defense. The foreperson
further stated that Juror No. 3 perceived a difference in
what was stated during closing argument about premeditation
and what his research revealed, and the deliberations never
meaningfully returned to the jury instructions on either
issue because "the conversation really got bent more on
what Juror No. 3 was saying about premeditation."
dismissing the foreperson, the district court told both
parties that it would question Juror No. 3 but that it
appeared external research concerning the central issues
presented to the jury had permeated deliberations and led to
the exclusion of the jury instructions on two points of law.
The district court stated that it struggled to see how
deliberations could be untainted, even if the remaining
jurors offered assurances that they could disregard the
improper research. The district court requested both
parties' thoughts on proceeding. The State maintained
that the district court could disregard the external research
so long as the remaining jurors rejected it and canvassing
revealed that the external research did not affect
deliberations. Granada-Ruiz's counsel stated that she
wanted to hear from Juror No. 3 but that she tended to agree
with the court's initial impression that the external
research both permeated the deliberations and concerned the
central issue of trial.
district court then canvassed Juror No. 3. Juror No. 3 stated
that he had been confused by something the State had said in
closing arguments and decided to research premeditation and
self-defense on his own for clarity as to sufficient time
lapse for forming a premeditated intent and continuing danger
for purposes of self-defense. Juror No. 3 stated that he
perceived the other jurors comments about outside research
being impermissible to mean that he was not allowed to
consider the law and that the law was "stricken from the
record." He further stated, "I don't know what
I am doing. I don't know what is going on to be honest
with you." After Juror No. 3 returned to the
deliberation room, the district court stated that Juror No.
3's incoherent statements and fundamental
misunderstanding of his duty demonstrate his inability to
serve on the jury, and the district court reiterated its
concern over the nature and length of discussion involving
external research. Counsel for Granada-Ruiz then expressed
Granada-Ruiz's frustration after two weeks of trial and
said, "[s]o it's my understanding that the Court is
going to declare a mistrial. I don't know if we are going
to try to go down that road of trying to discuss it."
Defense counsel and co-counsel asked the court to "find
out [the results of] the 11 to 1" preliminary jury vote,
and stated, "I think based on that, we have our opinion.
We would just like to know." Not hearing any objections,
the district court ordered a mistrial, finding a manifest
necessity as there could be no assurances that any further
product of deliberations would be fair and impartial and
unaffected by the external research. The district court
informed the foreperson that it was declaring a mistrial and
asked the foreperson about his earlier note indicating that
the jury had voted and deliberations were not moving toward
unanimous decision. The foreperson stated that the vote stood
at 11 to 1 not guilty. The court then dismissed the jury.
moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that there was no
manifest necessity for a mistrial, such that re-prosecution
was barred by constitutional double jeopardy principles. The
State opposed the motion, arguing that the court acted within
its discretion in declaring a mistrial, and Granada-Ruiz did
not object to it. After oral arguments, the district court
denied the motion and issued the following findings of facts
and conclusions of law: (1) neither party requested a
mistrial, (2) the court considered alternatives to declaring
a mistrial, (3) it had canvassed the jury in order to
determine whether a mistrial was necessary, (4) the jurors
had discussed the substance of Juror No. 3's research for
a lengthy period, (5) the jury never returned to the
statements of law in the jury instructions, (6) the court
found manifest necessity to order a mistrial because the
research pertained to material facts and issues and the
jury's deliberation on ...