Because the district court erred in excluding the public from the courtroom during jury selection, the First Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated the convictions of two defendants found guilty of violating criminal provisions of the Clean Water Act. U.S. v. Agosto-Vega, No. 09-1158 (1st Cir. 8/18/10). Anticipating defendants’ argument that retrial would subject them to double jeopardy in violation of the Fifth Amendment, the court found that the government proved the charges against defendants by sufficient evidence to establish their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Ruling that the public’s exclusion during jury selection violated defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, the court held that the district court committed a “structural error” that would not trigger double jeopardy in light of the court’s finding that prosecutors presented enough evidence to support a guilty verdict. The case was remanded for a new trial.