JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted certiorari to decide whether the Double Jeopardy Clause
In 1974, Florida indicted petitioner Delbert Tibbs for the first-degree murder of Terry Milroy, the felony murder of Milroy, and the rape of Cynthia Nadeau. Nadeau, the State's chief trial witness, testified that she and Milroy were hitchhiking from St. Petersburg to Marathon, Fla., on February 3, 1974. A man in a green truck picked them up near Fort Myers and, after driving a short way, turned off the highway into a field. He asked Milroy to help him siphon gas from some farm machinery, and Milroy agreed. When Nadeau stepped out of the truck a few minutes later, she discovered the driver holding a gun on Milroy. The driver told Milroy that he wished to have sex with Nadeau, and ordered her to strip. After forcing Nadeau to engage in sodomy, the driver agreed that Milroy could leave. As Milroy started to walk away, however, the assailant shot him in the shoulder. When Milroy fell to the ground, pleading for his life, the gunman walked over and taunted, "Does it hurt, boy? You in
This deed finished, the killer raped Nadeau. Fearing for her life, she suggested that they should leave together and that she "would be his old lady." Id., at 510. The killer seemed to agree and they returned to the highway in the truck. After driving a short distance, he stopped the truck and ordered Nadeau to walk directly in front of it. As soon as her feet hit the ground, however, she ran in the opposite direction. The killer fled with the truck, frightened perhaps by an approaching car. When Nadeau reached a nearby house, the occupants let her in and called the police.
That night, Nadeau gave the police a detailed description of the assailant and his truck. Several days later a patrolman stopped Tibbs, who was hitchhiking near Ocala, Fla., because his appearance matched Nadeau's description. The Ocala Police Department photographed Tibbs and relayed the pictures to the Fort Myers police. When Nadeau examined these photos, she identified Tibbs as the assailant.
In addition to these attempts to discredit Nadeau, Tibbs testified in his own defense. He explained that he was college educated, that he had published a story and a few poems, and that he was hitchhiking through Florida to learn more about how people live. He claimed that he was in Daytona Beach, across the State from Fort Myers, from the evening of February 1, 1974, through the morning of February 6. He also testified that he did not own a green truck, and
Two Salvation Army officers partially corroborated Tibbs' story. These officers produced a card signed by Tibbs, indicating that he had slept at the Daytona Beach Salvation Army Transit Lodge on the evening of February 1, 1974. Neither witness, however, had seen Tibbs after the morning of February 2. Tibbs' other witnesses testified to his good reputation as a law-abiding citizen and to his good reputation for veracity.
On rebuttal, the State produced a card, similar to the one introduced by Tibbs, showing that Tibbs had spent the night of February 4 at the Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge. This evidence contradicted Tibbs' claim that he had remained in Daytona Beach until February 6, as well as his sworn statements that he had been in Orlando only once, during the early part of January 1974, and that he had not stayed in any Salvation Army lodge after February 1. After the State presented this rebuttal evidence, Tibbs took the stand to deny both that he had been in Orlando on February 4 and that the signature on the Orlando Salvation Army card was his.
The jury convicted Tibbs of first-degree murder and rape. Pursuant to the jury's recommendation, the judge sentenced Tibbs to death. On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court reversed. Tibbs v. State, 337 So.2d 788 (1976) (Tibbs I). A plurality of three justices, while acknowledging that "the resolution of factual issues in a criminal trial is peculiarly within the province of a jury," id., at 791, identified six weaknesses in the State's case.
Justice Boyd concurred specially, noting that " `[t]he test to be applied in determining the adequacy of a verdict is whether a jury of reasonable men could have returned that verdict.' " Id., at 792 (quoting Griffis v. Hill, 230 So.2d 143,
On remand, the trial court dismissed the indictment, concluding that retrial would violate the double jeopardy principles articulated in Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978), and Greene v. Massey, 437 U.S. 19 (1978).
The Florida Supreme Court then classified Tibbs I as a reversal resting on the weight of the evidence. Nadeau's testimony, if believed by the jury, was itself "legally sufficient to support Tibbs' conviction under Florida law." 397 So. 2d, at 1126. In deciding to upset Tibbs' conviction, the court in Tibbs I had stressed those "aspects of Nadeau's testimony which cast serious doubt on her believability," 397 So. 2d, at 1126, an approach that bespoke a reweighing of the evidence. "Only by stretching the point . . . ," the court concluded in Tibbs II, "could we possibly use an `insufficiency' analysis to characterize our previous reversal of Tibbs' convictions." Ibid.
In 1896, this Court ruled that a criminal defendant who successfully appeals a judgment against him "may be tried anew . . . for the same offence of which he had been convicted."
Burks v. United States and Greene v. Massey carved a narrow exception from the understanding that a defendant who successfully appeals a conviction is subject to retrial. In those cases, we held that the Double Jeopardy Clause precludes retrial "once the reviewing court has found the evidence
So defined, the exception recognized in Burks and Greene rests upon two closely related policies. First, the Double Jeopardy Clause attaches special weight to judgments of acquittal.
Second, Burks and Greene implement the principle that "[t]he Double Jeopardy Clause forbids a second trial for the purpose of affording the prosecution another opportunity to supply evidence which it failed to muster in the first proceeding." Burks, supra, at 11. This prohibition, lying at the core of the Clause's protections, prevents the State from honing its trial strategies and perfecting its evidence through successive attempts at conviction. Repeated prosecutorial sallies would unfairly burden the defendant and create a risk of conviction through sheer governmental perseverance.
As we suggested just last Term, these policies do not have the same force when a judge disagrees with a jury's resolution of conflicting evidence and concludes that a guilty verdict is against the weight of the evidence. See Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 44-45, n. 5 (1981). A reversal on this ground, unlike a reversal based on insufficient evidence, does not mean that acquittal was the only proper verdict. Instead, the appellate court sits as a "thirteenth juror" and disagrees with the jury's resolution of the conflicting testimony. This difference of opinion no more signifies acquittal than does a disagreement among the jurors themselves. A deadlocked jury, we consistently have recognized, does not result in an acquittal barring retrial under the Double Jeopardy Clause.
A reversal based on the weight of the evidence, moreover, can occur only after the State both has presented sufficient
Petitioner Tibbs resists these arguments on the grounds that a distinction between the weight and the sufficiency of the evidence is unworkable and that such a distinction will undermine the Burks rule by encouraging appellate judges to base reversals on the weight, rather than the sufficiency, of the evidence. We find these arguments unpersuasive for two reasons. First, trial and appellate judges commonly distinguish between the weight and the sufficiency of the evidence.
Second, our decision in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979), places some restraints on the power of appellate courts to mask reversals based on legally insufficient evidence as reversals grounded on the weight of the evidence. We held in Jackson that the Due Process Clause forbids any conviction based on evidence insufficient to persuade a rational factfinder of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Due Process Clause, in other words, sets a lower limit on an appellate court's definition of evidentiary sufficiency.
We turn, finally, to apply the above principles to the present case. A close reading of Tibbs I suggests that the Florida Supreme Court overturned Tibbs' conviction because the evidence, although sufficient to support the jury's verdict, did not fully persuade the court of Tibbs' guilt. The plurality based its review on a Florida rule directing the court in capital cases to "review the evidence to determine if the interests of justice require a new trial, whether the insufficiency of the evidence is a ground of appeal or not." See n. 8, supra. References to the "interests of justice" and the justices' own "considerable doubt" of Tibbs' guilt mark the plurality's conclusions.
Any ambiguity in Tibbs I, finally, was resolved by the Florida Supreme Court in Tibbs II. Absent a conflict with the Due Process Clause, see n. 21, supra, that court's construction
JUSTICE WHITE, with whom JUSTICE BRENNAN, JUSTICE MARSHALL, and JUSTICE BLACKMUN join, dissenting.
As our cases in this area indicate, the meaning of the Double Jeopardy Clause is not always readily apparent. See, e. g., Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978) (overruling Bryan v. United States, 338 U.S. 552 (1950), Sapir v. United States, 348 U.S. 373 (1955), and Forman v. United States, 361 U.S. 416 (1960)); United States v. Scott, 437 U.S. 82 (1978) (overruling United States v. Jenkins, 420 U.S. 358 (1975)). For this reason, we should begin with a clear understanding of what is at stake in this case.
To sustain the convictions in this case, the prosecution was required to convince the Florida Supreme Court not only that the evidence was sufficient under the federal constitutional
The majority concedes, as it must under Burks, supra, that if the State's evidence failed to meet the federal due
The majority offers two arguments in its attempt to distinguish the two cases. First, it emphasizes that the Double Jeopardy Clause "attaches special weight to judgments of acquittal." But in neither of the situations posited has there been a judgment of acquittal by the initial factfinder. In each instance, a reviewing court decides that, as a matter of law, the decision of the factfinder cannot stand. Second, the majority thinks it to be of some significance that when the evidence is determined to be insufficient as a matter of federal law, then no rational factfinder could have voted to convict on that basis. On the other hand, when the conviction is reversed on the basis of the state-law rule applying a "weight of the evidence" test, that "does not mean that acquittal was the only proper verdict." Ante, at 42. The constraints of the Double Jeopardy Clause, however, do not depend upon a determination that an "acquittal was the only proper verdict." The fact remains that the State failed to prove the defendant guilty in accordance with the evidentiary requirements of state law.
The majority opinion rests finally on a mischaracterization of the appellate court's ruling: "The reversal simply affords the defendant a second opportunity to seek a favorable judgment." Ante, at 43. But as I described above, it is not
Having concluded that the majority opinion fails to justify the distinction it draws, I too turn to "the policies supporting the Double Jeopardy Clause," ante, at 32, to determine whether this distinction is relevant. I do not believe it necessary to look beyond the articulation of those policies in the majority opinion itself to conclude that it is not:
These same policy considerations are at stake when a conviction is reversed on state-law grounds going to the adequacy of the evidence. The relevant question is whether the reversal is " `due to a failure of proof at trial' where the State received a `fair opportunity to offer whatever proof it could assemble.' " Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 43 (1981) (quoting Burks, 437 U. S., at 16). That the proof fails on state-law, rather than federal-law, grounds is immaterial to these policy considerations. Thus, the relevant distinction is between reversals based on evidentiary grounds and those based on procedural grounds: Only in the latter case can the State proceed to retrial without offending the deeply ingrained
It must also be noted that judges having doubts about the sufficiency of the evidence under the Jackson standard may prefer to reverse on the weight of the evidence, since retrial would not be barred. If done recurringly, this would undermine Jackson, Burks, and Greene. But under Burks and Greene, retrial is foreclosed by the Double Jeopardy Clause if the evidence fails to satisfy the Jackson standard. Hence, the Jackson issue cannot be avoided; if retrial is to be had, the evidence must be found to be legally sufficient, as a matter of federal law, to sustain the jury verdict. That finding must accompany any reversal based on the weight of the evidence if retrial is contemplated. The upshot may be that appellate judges will not be inclined to proclaim the evidence in a case to be legally sufficient, yet go on to disagree with the jury and the trial court by reversing on weight-of-the-evidence grounds. Indeed, in this case, the Florida Supreme Court declared that prospect to be an anomaly and a mistake and proclaimed that it would never again put itself in this position.
With all due respect, I dissent.
A Florida prisoner, sentenced to life imprisonment for rape, also testified for the State. This prisoner claimed that he had met Tibbs while Tibbs was in jail awaiting trial and that Tibbs had confessed the crime to him. The defense substantially discredited this witnesses on cross-examination, revealing inconsistencies in his testimony and suggesting that he had testified in the hope of obtaining leniency from the State.
"Upon an appeal from the judgment by a defendant who has been sentenced to death the appellate court shall review the evidence to determine if the interests of justice require a new trial, whether the insufficiency of the evidence is a ground of appeal or not."
The substance of this Rule has been recodified as Florida Appellate Rule 9.140(f).
Three justices dissented from the court's disposition of Tibbs' appeal. They declared that "the evidence in the record before us does not reveal that the ends of justice require that a new trial be awarded," id., at 796-797, and rejected Tibbs' other assignments of error.
"The court reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, whether it be the trial or appellate court, must apply familiar principles. It is required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, giving the prosecution the benefit of all inferences reasonably to be drawn in its favor from the evidence. The verdict may be based in whole or in part on circumstantial evidence. The evidence need not exclude every reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt . . . ." Id., at 1316.
"When a motion for new trial is made on the ground that the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence, the issues are far different . . . . The district court need not view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict; it may weigh the evidence and in so doing evaluate for itself the credibility of the witnesses. If the court concludes that, despite the abstract sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict, the evidence preponderates sufficiently heavily against the verdict that a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred, it may set aside the verdict, grant a new trial, and submit the issues for determination by another jury." Id., at 1319.
See generally 2 C. Wright, Federal Practice and Procedure § 553 (1969).
Our decisions also make clear that disagreements among jurors or judges do not themselves create a reasonable doubt of guilt. As JUSTICE WHITE, writing for the Court in Johnson v. Louisiana, supra, explained, "[t]hat rational men disagree is not in itself equivalent to a failure of proof by the State, nor does it indicate infidelity to the reasonable-doubt standard." 406 U. S., at 362.