Japanese media are abuzz with the case of Kazuyoshi Miura, a Japanese businessman accused of killing his wife and then claiming they had been mugged during a visit to Los Angeles in 1981. But the Los Angeles District Attorney has a problem. Miura was previously prosecuted for this crime in Japan. The LA Times website has stories on this case all the way back, including this recent one. Miura was originally convicted, but the conviction was reversed and an acquittal entered by a higher court.
Miura is presently in jail in Saipan in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands awaiting extradition to L.A. He is represented by Mark Geragos, who has filed this motion to quash and points and authorities.
This case is not really about the constitutional double jeopardy clauses, state or federal. The constitutional limit does not preclude a second prosecution by a different government, as we saw in the Rodney King case. Instead, the case is about California's statutory rule which, at the time of the crime and the time of the Japanese decision, said that a prior prosecution in another country was a complete defense. The statute was amended in 2004 so that foreign judgments are no longer a bar, although the defendant gets credit for any time actually served in the foreign prison.
Could such a statute apply retroactively? Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607 (2003) held that a change in the statute of limitations enacted after the time had already run could not apply retroactively to revive a barred prosecution. I can't see how this is distinguishable. Geragos makes this argument in part V.
But do we even need to reach the constitutional question? As a matter of statutory interpretation, was AB 1432 of 2004 intended to apply retroactively to already barred cases? Nothing in the bill says so. As the U.S. Supreme Court reminded us again today in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, it is a "fundamental principle of judicial restraint that courts should [not] 'anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it.'" Applying both the principle that statutes are presumed nonretroactive and the doctrine of constitutional doubt, the right answer seems to be that AB 1432 does not apply to strip a defense already vested by the effective date of the legislation. Geragos curiously does not make this argument.