Winston Circuit Court, CC-17-155.
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
State of Alabama filed this petition for a writ of mandamus
requesting this Court to direct Judge Talmage Lee Carter to
set aside that portion of his order of February 27, 2019,
dismissing with prejudice the indictment against
Jarod Chase Cantrell. We dismiss the State's petition.
23, 2017, the Winston County grand jury returned a 12-count
indictment against Cantrell. Cantrell faced three counts of
second-degree rape, see § 13A-6-62, Ala. Code
1975, three counts of second-degree sodomy, see
§ 13A-6-64, three counts of being a school employee who
engaged in a sex act with a student under the age of 19
years, see § 13A-6-81, Ala. Code 1975, and
three counts of third-degree burglary, see §
13A-7-7, Ala. Code 1975. Cantrell's charges arose from
allegations that he, a teacher, had engaged in sexual acts
with K.E.B., a 15-year-old student.
February 18, 2019, Judge Carter granted two of Cantrell's
pretrial motions that are relevant to the State's
petition. First, Judge Carter granted Cantrell's motion
in limine asking the trial court to restrict the State's
witnesses from using the words "rape" and
"sodomy." Second, Judge Carter granted
Cantrell's motion to suppress a statement he had given to
Double Springs Chief of Police Kim Miller on February 27,
2017, following his arrest. Judge Carter made the following
findings in support of his judgment:
"[Cantrell] gave a statement to the Double Springs
Police Department on February 27, 2017, during a custodial
interrogation. Prior to the start of the interview, the
interrogating officer read [Cantrell] his Miranda [v.
Arizona, 684 U.S. 436 (1966),] warnings and then
instructed [Cantrell], 'I need you to sign there, that I
read that to you.' After signing the Miranda
form, [Cantrell] stated, 'Yeah, I just want you to
explain those to me; that's all I want you to do.'
The interrogating officer responded,
'Okay.' The recording was stopped and resumed when
the interview started.
"No evidence was presented that the interrogating
officer explained the Miranda rights to [Cantrell]
after [Cantrell] requested an explanation or that other steps
were taken to insure that the waiver was knowing and
intelligent. The State has not proven that a valid waiver of
the right to silence and the right to counsel occurred in
(State's petition, Exhibit F.)
trial began the next day. Officer Tim Hale of the Double
Springs Police Department testified during the State's
case-in-chief. On direct examination, Officer Hale was asked
how he had become involved in the case. Officer Hale
responded: "[Chief Miller] called and stated that I
needed to get out to [Ca.B.] and [Ch.B.]'s house, that
their daughter had been raped." (State's petition,
Exhibit H.) Defense counsel objected and asked for a curative
instruction. The prosecutor, who expressed surprise at
Officer Hale's testimony, stated that he had informed the
victim and her parents about the court's prohibition but
had failed to discuss the issue with other witnesses. The
prosecutor suggested that Officer Hale's offending
statement be stricken. Judge Carter struck the answer from
the record and issued a lengthy curative instruction to the
trial progressed, and the State completed its casein-chief.
Cantrell elected to testify in his own defense. During the
direct examination of Cantrell, defense counsel asked
Cantrell if he had ever climbed through the victim's
window. (State's petition, Exhibit I at 41.) Cantrell
denied having done so. (State's petition, Exhibit I at
41.) This testimony, however, conflicted with a statement
Cantrell had made to Chief Miller following his arrest.
During the State's cross-examination, the prosecutor
attempted to impeach Cantrell based on his conflicting
"Q. ... [Defense counsel] asked you, did you climb
through her window?
"Q. And that's talking about the window of [K.E.B.]?
"A. And your answer here today under oath is --
"Q. I have never climbed through her window, no.
"Q. Do you recall previously having stated that you did
go into her house through the window?"
(State's petition, Exhibit I at 63-64.) Defense counsel
objected to the question and moved for a mistrial. The
prosecutor argued that, pursuant to the holding of the
Supreme Court of the United States in Harris v. New
York, 401 U.S. 222 (1971), "voluntary statements
taken in violation of Fifth Amendment prophylactic rules,
while inadmissible in the prosecution's case in chief,
may nevertheless be used to impeach the defendant's
conflicting testimony." Michigan v.
Harvey, 494 U.S. 344, 344 (1990). The State's
argument was abruptly ended by Judge Carter, who stated,
"Okay. All right. I've heard all I need to hear.
We're going to take a recess. I want to see the attorneys
in chambers." (States's petition, Exhibit I at
68-69.) When trial resumed, Judge Carter stated: "Okay.
I've considered the defense motion for mistrial. Based on
prosecutorial misconduct, I'm granting the motion."
(States's petition, Exhibit I at 69.)
February 22, 2019, Judge Carter issued the following bench
order: "February 21, 2019: This day came the District
Attorney and the Defendant with counsel, ..., and the trial
resumed and concluded; Defense Motion for Mistrial
granted." (State's petition, Exhibit K.) On February
27, 2019, Judge Carter amended his order to state:
"February 21, 2019: This day came the District Attorney
and the Defendant with counsel, ..., and the trial resumed
and concluded; Defense Motion for Mistrial granted due to
prosecutorial misconduct. ... This case is dismissed with
prejudice." (State's petition, Exhibit L.) The State
timely filed the instant petition asserting that Judge Carter
lacked authority to dismiss the indictment against Cantrell
with prejudice. This Court offered the respondents an
opportunity to answer the allegations in the State's
petition. Cantrell filed an answer, and this Court has
considered his response.
petition, the State asserts that Judge Carter lacked the
authority to sua sponte dismiss with prejudice the indictment
against Cantrell. By dismissing the indictment against
Cantrell with prejudice, Judge Carter's order
purports to bar the Winston County District Attorney from
re-indicting Cantrell on the 12 charges contained in the
indictment. Cf. Black's Law Dictionary 570 (10th
ed. 2014) (noting that the dismissal of a case with prejudice
"remove[s] [the case] from the court's docket in
such a way that the plaintiff is foreclosed from filing a
suit again on the same claim or claims").
this Court must address whether there is any relief that can
be granted. Cantrell's answer asserts, in part, that the
issue before this Court is now ...