Here's a case of a defendant who couldn't lose for winning.

Bruce Douglas was on trial in D.C. Superior Court three years ago facing charges of armed assault and armed robbery when, during the second day of proceedings, it came out that Douglas earlier had filed a complaint against his attorney for not doing more to get his $5,000 bond reduced.

Attorney Gerald Kane told the court that the D.C. Bar Counsel had told him it was investigating the allegation. That didn't faze Douglas, who said he wanted to go through with the trial anyway with Kane as his lawyer.

But Judge Joseph M. Hannon found that Kane couldn't represent Douglas as long as the investigation was pending and, without holding a hearing on Douglas' rights in the matter, declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury.

A divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals recently held that because a mistrial was declared without Douglas' consent, he cannot be brought to trial again. That, the panel found, would amount to double jeopardy.

Judge John M. Ferren, writing on behalf of himself and Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr., found that Kane did have a conflict of interest but that Douglas should have been given an opportunity to waive his right to conflict-free counsel.

Hannon "never gave serious consideration to the waiver alternative," Ferren wrote.

Judge James A. Belson dissented, saying Hannon used his discretion properly and neither Kane nor Douglas objected to the mistrial at the time.