Would it be double jeopardy to pursue a case against a woman whose traffic citation was thrown out in January in District Court?
It depends on whether or not she had a trial. And that, apparently, is not as simple to determine as it might seem.
At issue in Howard County Circuit Court Tuesday was the case of Katie Quackenbush, the 22-year-old Ellicott City woman who was pulled over and cited in April 2011 for speeding and driving under the influence.
In January, Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman threw out the citation after Quackenbush’s attorney, Mark Muffoletto, produced an internal police email that he said indicated the police had quotas to meet in order to secure grant money.
The state appealed Hantman’s decision; Muffoletto requested that the appeal be denied. He argued Tuesday that Quackenbush, had been acquitted at her District Court “trial”, therefore pursuing the citation would be tantamount to double-jeopardy – trying her twice for the same crime – which is unconstitutional.
“We all know what it was,” Muffoletto told Judge Willam Tucker in Court Tuesday. “It was a trial.”
Maurice Frazier argued for the state that Quackenbush had not yet had a trial, only that during a “motions hearing,” her case had been a dismissed, meaning she could still be brought to trial.
“Just because a judge says ‘acquittal,’” Frazier said, “doesn’t make it an acquittal.” Instead, he said, common sense dictated that the meeting in question was a motions hearing in which the judge erred by using the term “acquittal.”
Adding to the confusion, Muffoletto and Tucker had different transcripts, both, they each said, were certified official. One key word was different in each – Muffolletto’s transcript read “evidence” in a spot where Tucker’s read “remedy.”
"Evidence" would suggest the parties were at “trial,” while “remedy” suggests a motions hearing.
“I’ve got to look at what to do with that one,” Tucker said from the bench.
Tucker said it appeared “the case was called to trial,” however he made no decision Tuesday, and gave the attorneys two weeks to come to an agreement about the transcript discrepancy.