The criminal justice fate of former Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill apparently remains undecided. In Boston’s Suffolk County Superior Court last Friday, a hearing took place regarding the matter. Until then, at least publically, both sides had declined to say whether Cahill will be tried for a second time on corruption charges.

It would appear that the hearing did not change that very much.

The hearing was apparently one of the “closed door” variety. Judge Christine Roach spoke to the lawyers up at sidebar, so spectators in the courtroom could not hear what was said. Likely, however, a record was kept of the discussion.

Friday’s hearing marked three weeks after the jurors in the first trial failed to reach a verdict on charges accusing him of scheming to run $1.5 million in taxpayer-funded lottery ads to help his unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The co-defendant, Cahill’s former campaign manager, was found “not guilty” by the same jury.

Word has it that Attorney General Martha Coakley has not yet decided to retry Cahill. At least, this is what her spokeswoman said on Friday. However, word also has it that the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense have been negotiating a civil resolution to the unprecedented criminal case.

The court has scheduled another status conference for January 25th.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Considerations For Retrying A Criminal Case:

“Sam, under what circumstances would there be a retrial?”

A retrial comes after one of two things take place. Either the first trial ended in a conviction and the defense successfully appealed that conviction. In that case, the case would likely be sent for a new trial in accordance with the rulings made by the appellate court. The second instance is if the first trial ended in a mistrial.

There can be a variety of reasons for a mistrial. One of them, as in this case, can be that the jury could not return a unanimous verdict.

“Why would the defense want another trial?”

Well, actually, the defense would not want another trial. The defendant would prefer that the prosecution simply decided not to retry the matter and let it end in a dismissal. The prosecution, however, is in a different position.

“Would the prosecution want to retry the Cahill case?”

That is the issue that this is going to probably come down to. The Commonwealth has risk either way it decides. That is why both sides are trying to make a deal that they can both live with rather than risk another trial.

“What risks?”

Well, Mr. Cahill, of course, risks being found guilty the second time around and whatever penalties his sentencing happens to bring. The Commonwealth has to decide whether it should just accept things as they are, make a deal, or risk going to trial. Losing the second trial can reflect badly on the Commonwealth…particularly the Attorney General who is, after all, a politician who has to worry about publicity.

As it was, many people believed that the first trial was a waste of taxpayer’s money. To try the matter again…only to lose it…would really hurt.

“Why should that matter? This is law and justice we are talking about.”

It may be that simple on television, but not in reality. Not when our lead law enforcement agencies are run by politicians. I have seen firsthand how the next day’s paper can aid, rather strongly, in the making of “law and justice” decisions.

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