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OHIO v. JOHNSON

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: June 11, 1984.

OHIO
v.
JOHNSON

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO.

Rehnquist, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, C. J., and White, Blackmun, Powell, and O'connor, JJ., joined. Brennan, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 503. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Marshall, J., joined, post, p. 503.

Author: Rehnquist

[ 467 U.S. Page 494]

 JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Kenneth Johnson was indicted by an Ohio grand jury for four offenses, ranging from murder to grand theft, as a result of the killing of Thomas Hill and the theft of property from Hill's apartment. Respondent offered to plead guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, but pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated robbery. Over the State's objection, the trial court accepted the "guilty" pleas to the lesser offenses, and then granted respondent's motion to dismiss the two most serious charges on the ground that because of his guilty pleas, further prosecution on the more serious offenses was barred by the double jeopardy prohibitions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This judgment was affirmed on appeal through the Ohio state courts, and we granted certiorari. 465 U.S. 1004 (1984). We now reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio and hold that prosecuting respondent on the two more serious charges would not constitute the type of "multiple prosecution" prohibited by the Double Jeopardy Clause.

[ 467 U.S. Page 495]

     Thomas Hill was shot to death in his apartment in the city of Mentor-on-the-Lake, a city northeast of Cleveland on Lake Erie. Several weeks later, a county grand jury indicted respondent on one count each of murder,*fn1 involuntary manslaughter,*fn2 aggravated robbery,*fn3 and grand theft.*fn4 Meanwhile,

[ 467 U.S. Page 496]

     respondent had left Ohio and was not arraigned on the charges until nearly two years after the killing. At his arraignment respondent offered to plead guilty only to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, while pleading not guilty to the more serious offenses of murder and aggravated robbery. Over the State's objection, the trial court accepted the guilty pleas and sentenced respondent to a term of imprisonment. App. 19-21. Respondent then moved to dismiss the remaining charges against him on the ground that their further prosecution would violate his right under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment not to be placed twice in jeopardy for the same offense. The trial court granted respondent's motion and dismissed the remaining charges, finding that because involuntary manslaughter and grand theft were, respectively, lesser included offenses of the remaining charges of murder and aggravated robbery, continued prosecution of the greater offenses after acceptance of respondent's guilty pleas on the lesser offenses was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. App. to Pet. for Cert. A24.

The Ohio Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the decision of the trial court. 6 Ohio St. 3d 420, 453 N. E. 2d 595 (1983). The State Supreme Court held that in these circumstances aggravated robbery was an "allied [offense] of similar import" to theft, id., at 422, 453 N. E. 2d, at 598,*fn5 and reasoned that since state law permitted conviction on only one of these charges, acceptance of respondent's guilty plea to the charge of theft prevented conviction for the charge of aggravated robbery. The crime of involuntary manslaughter was held to be distinguishable from the

[ 467 U.S. Page 497]

     offense of murder only by the mental states required to commit each offense, but that in any one killing, an offender could only be convicted of involuntary manslaughter or murder, but not both crimes.*fn6

We think the Supreme Court of Ohio was mistaken in its observation that "this case concerns the third double jeopardy protection prohibiting multiple punishments for the same offense." Id., at 421, 453 N. E. 2d, at 598.*fn7 The Double

[ 467 U.S. Page 498]

     Jeopardy Clause, of course, affords a defendant three basic protections:

"'[It] protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal. It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction. And it protects against multiple punishments for the same offense.'" Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 165 (1977), quoting North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717 (1969).

As we have explained on numerous occasions, the bar to retrial following acquittal or conviction ensures that the State does not make repeated attempts to convict an individual, thereby exposing him to continued embarrassment, anxiety,

[ 467 U.S. Page 499]

     and expense, while increasing the risk of an erroneous conviction or an impermissibly enhanced sentence. See, e. g., United States v. Wilson, 420 U.S. 332, 343 (1975); Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 187-188 (1957).

In contrast to the double jeopardy protection against multiple trials, the final component of double jeopardy -- protection against cumulative punishments -- is designed to ensure that the sentencing discretion of courts is confined to the limits established by the legislature. Because the substantive power to prescribe crimes and determine punishments is vested with the legislature, United States v. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat. 76, 93 (1820), the question under the Double Jeopardy Clause whether punishments are "multiple" is essentially one of legislative intent, see Missouri v. Hunter, 459 U.S. 359, 366-368 (1983).*fn8 But where a defendant is retried following conviction, the Clause's third protection ensures that after a subsequent conviction a defendant receives credit for time already served. North Carolina v. Pearce, supra, at 718.

We accept, as we must, the Ohio Supreme Court's determination that the Ohio Legislature did not intend cumulative punishment for the two pairs of crimes involved here. But before respondent can ever be punished for the offenses of murder and aggravated robbery he will first have to be found guilty of those offenses. The trial court's dismissal of these more serious charges did more than simply prevent the imposition of cumulative punishments; it halted completely the proceedings that ultimately would have led to a verdict of

[ 467 U.S. Page 500]

     guilt or innocence on these more serious charges. Presumably the trial court, in the event of a guilty verdict on the more serious offenses, will have to confront the question of cumulative punishments as a matter of state law, but because of that court's ruling preventing even the trial of the more serious offenses, that stage of the prosecution was never reached. While the Double Jeopardy Clause may protect a defendant against cumulative punishments for convictions on the same offense, the Clause does not prohibit the State from prosecuting respondent for such multiple offenses in a single prosecution.

Respondent urges, as an alternative basis for affirming the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio, that further prosecution of the counts which were dismissed would violate the double jeopardy prohibition against multiple prosecutions. Brief for Respondent 17-18. He concedes that on the authority of our decision in Brown v. Ohio, supra, the State is not prohibited by the Double Jeopardy Clause from charging respondent with greater and lesser included offenses and prosecuting those offenses in a single trial. Brief for Respondent 7. But, he argues, his conviction and sentence on the charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft mean that further prosecution on the remaining offenses will implicate the double jeopardy protection against a second prosecution following conviction. The court below never had occasion to address this argument.*fn9

The answer to this contention seems obvious to us. Respondent was indicted on four related charges growing out of

[ 467 U.S. Page 501]

     a murder and robbery. The grand jury returned a single indictment, and all four charges were embraced within a single prosecution. Respondent's argument is apparently based on the assumption that trial proceedings, like amoebae, are capable of being infinitely subdivided, so that a determination of guilt and punishment on one count of a multicount indictment immediately raises a double jeopardy bar to continued prosecution on any remaining counts that are greater or lesser included offenses of the charge just concluded. We have never held that, and decline to hold it now.

Previously we have recognized that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits prosecution of a defendant for a greater offense when he has already been tried and acquitted or convicted on the lesser included offense. See Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161 (1977). In Brown the State first charged the defendant with "joyriding," that is, operating an auto without the owner's consent. The defendant pleaded guilty to this charge and was sentenced. Subsequently, the State indicted the defendant for auto theft and joyriding, charges which this Court held were barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause, since the defendant had previously been convicted in a separate proceeding of joyriding, which was a lesser included offense of auto theft. Brown v. Ohio, supra, at 169.

We do not believe, however, that the principles of finality and prevention of prosecutorial overreaching applied in Brown reach this case. No interest of respondent protected by the Double Jeopardy Clause is implicated by continuing prosecution on the remaining charges brought in the indictment. Here respondent offered only to resolve part of the charges against him, while the State objected to disposing of any of the counts against respondent without a trial. Respondent has not been exposed to conviction on the charges to which he pleaded not guilty, nor has the State had the opportunity to marshal its evidence and resources more than once or to hone its presentation of its case through a trial. The acceptance of a guilty plea to lesser included offenses while charges on the greater offenses remain pending, moreover,

[ 467 U.S. Page 502]

     has none of the implications of an "implied acquittal" which results from a verdict convicting a defendant on lesser included offenses rendered by a jury charged to consider both greater and lesser included offenses. Cf. Price v. Georgia, 398 U.S. 323, 329 (1970); Green v. United States, 355 U.S., at 191. There simply has been none of the governmental overreaching that double jeopardy is supposed to prevent. On the other hand, ending prosecution now would deny the State its right to one full and fair opportunity to convict those who have violated its laws. Arizona v. Washington, 434 U.S. 497, 509 (1978).

We think this is an even clearer case than Jeffers v. United States, 432 U.S. 137 (1977), where we rejected a defendant's claim of double jeopardy based upon a guilty verdict in the first of two successive prosecutions, when the defendant had been responsible for insisting that there be separate rather than consolidated trials. Here respondent's efforts were directed to separate disposition of counts in the same indictment where no more than one trial of the offenses charged was ever contemplated. Notwithstanding the trial court's acceptance of respondent's guilty pleas, respondent should not be entitled to use the Double Jeopardy Clause as a sword to prevent the State from completing its prosecution on the remaining charges.

For the foregoing reasons we hold that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit the State from continuing its prosecution of respondent on the charges of murder and aggravated robbery.*fn10 Accordingly, the judgment of the Ohio Supreme Court is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Disposition

6 Ohio St. 3d 420, 453 N. E. 2d 595, reversed and remanded.

[ 467 U.S. Page 503]

     JUSTICE BRENNAN, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

In my view, the judgment of the Ohio Supreme Court with respect to the aggravated robbery charge rests on independent and adequate state grounds. I agree with the Court, however, that continued prosecution of respondent on the charge of murder after respondent pleaded guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter was not barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause.

JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE MARSHALL joins, dissenting.

A conviction based on a plea of guilty has the same legal effect as a conviction based on a jury's verdict. The conviction in this case authorized the State of Ohio to place respondent in prison for several years. As the Court expressly recognizes, "the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits prosecution of a defendant for a greater offense when he has already been . . . convicted on the lesser included offense." Ante, at 501. That statement fits this case precisely. Since it is a correct statement of the law, I would affirm the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio insofar as it denied the State the right to prosecute respondent on the charge of murder.*fn*

Counsel FOOTNOTES

* Solicitor General Lee, Assistant Attorney General Trott, Deputy Solicitor General Frey, Carter G. Phillips, and Kathleen A. Felton filed a brief for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal.


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