In State v. Hawkins, the Supreme Court reinstated a trial court’s grant of a new trial for newly discovered evidence after the Court of Appeals overturned that decision. The decision is highly fact specific, and fascinating for mystery buffs, but the take away is clear: just as defendants can’t lightly disturb trial court rulings against them, neither can the prosecution.
In the second holding, the defendant tried to take this win and run with it by arguing charges should be dismissed because the second trial did not begin within speedy trial time limits. The Court shot that argument down, noting that the date for a speedy trial is set when the trial court issues an “order” – here the notice of new trial was described as “an informal memorandum decision rather than a formal order.” The second trial began within the speedy trial window when the trial court finally issue a formal order almost a year after its “informal memorandum.”
Thus we have the recipe for a 9-0 decision enhancing procedural protections for the accused: take one large measure of respect for trial courts as the weigher of facts and add a dash of “he’s not getting out of jail anyway.”