Well, that’s one way to jsut about guarantee a mistrial. A defendant in an attempted murder trial, identified by the Los Angeles Times as Eduardo Macias, 32, pulled out a smuggled razor blade and slashed his own attorney’s cheek, in front of jurors and horrified high school students in San Diego, before being subdued by bailiffs. The teenage witnesses were at the trial as part of a high school civics lesson on how the judicial system works.
According to the Union-Tribune, the defendant, who has Mexican Mafia ties, and who was on trial with two codefendants for an attempt to murder a fellow inmate, smuggled the razor blade into the court using his mouth. The attack took place during the final witnesses’ testimony. The courtroom was cleared and the jurors were interviewed in an adjacent courtroom by police officers as witnesses to Macias’ latest crime.
Oddly enough, the attack didn't immediately lead to a mistrial. One codefendant requested a mistrial, while the other pushed for closing arguments. The judge will decide today whether or not to continue the trial.
Mistrials should be granted when the circumstances of the trial prejudice the defendant, prejudice the State's case, or prevents the trial from conforming with the law. A mistrial may also be declared if the jury becomes deadlocked, or if a juror or judge dies during the trial.
Already facing charges for attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy, Macias should be facing at least one additional charge for assault with a deadly weapon. He'll also probably need to find another attorney.
Because a firearm was not used, the assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) charge is what is considered a "wobbler" in California. This means it can be brought as either a misdemeanor or as a felony charge. Something tells us the prosecutor will opt for the latter, which carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.
- Consult a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Legalese 101: What is a Mistrial? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life Blog)
- High School Civics Lesson in Criminal Court Includes Seeing Lawyer Slashed with Razor Blade (ABA Journal)
- Murder Mistrial Declared: NY Defense Lawyer Had Never Tried A Case (FindLaw's Strategist)