Delaware convictions tossed over judge's conduct

By Randall Chase, AP 5:16pm, June 25, 2014
The Delaware Supreme Court has overturned robbery-related convictions of a New Castle County man, citing repeated improper actions by the trial judge.

In a 4 to 1 ruling Tuesday, the justices overturned the convictions of Lamonte Butler, saying Superior Court Judge Diane Clarke Streett's actions subjected him to unconstitutional double jeopardy.

Court records show Streett tried to pressure attorneys to reach a plea deal so she wouldn't have to preside over a trial in which a jury already had been seated.

The justices said Streett improperly goaded the defense into seeking a mistrial and dismissal of the charges, and that a subsequent retrial violated Butler's constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

Chief Justice Leo Strine said Streett's conduct presented "aberrational circumstances" and differed markedly from what is expected of a Delaware judge.

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