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White Collar Crime Mistrial Means Government Gets a Second Chance

The Detroit White Collar Crime Bid Rigging Trial of Bobby Ferguson ended as a mistrial today when jurors were unable to reach a verdict on any count. U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson granted the defense's motion for a mistrial after jurors deliberated for six days but could not come to a consensus on any of the charges against Ferguson, two co-defendants and three businesses that were also indicted on 24 total charges. Ferguson and his associates were charged in an illegal white collar crime scheme to obtain a $12 million housing contract from Detroit. Other charges included money laundering, mail fraud, and illegal gun possession by a felon.

Several days before the court declared the mistrial, jurors requested a verdict form. At the time, the jurors told Judge Lawson that they had come to a unanimous decision on some of the charges but were unable to agree on the rest. Then, a juror who was promised a six-week trial was dismissed due to vacation plans. This left the jury with only 11 members as both sides agreed to continue with 11 instead of bringing in an alternate for the second time and starting deliberations all over again.

Ferguson is likely to be tried again on the same charges. Unlike an acquittal, a mistrial can provide an opportunity for the prosecution to try the case a second time. A mistrial occurs in several situations such as death of a juror or attorney, juror misconduct, or, in this case, the jury's inability to reach a verdict. Here, the defense made a motion requesting an acquittal, but Judge Lawson denied the motion because he believed there was some evidence that a crime was committed. After the judge handed down his ruling, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stated that the government would retry the case. Because a mistrial is considered an inconclusive trial, it does not violate the 5th Amendment's Double Jeopardy clause.

Many situations can arise during the course of a criminal trial that are completely unexpected by either side. In fact, based on my experience, a solid trial attorney always expects the unexpected. Often times, criminal cases are not as simple as a jury returning a guilty or not guilty verdict. An experienced Detroit criminal defense attorney can prepare you for any situation and advise you of the best course of action.

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