Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ashe v. Swenson case brief

Ashe v Swenson 
S. Ct. [1970]
Facts: Early in the morning, while six men were playing poker, three or four men broke in and robbed them using a shotgun and some pistols.
-The robbers then fled using a car belonging to one of the card players. 
-The car was later discovered in a field and three men were arrested walking along the road nearby.  The petitioner was apprehended some distance away. 
-At the first trial the witnesses were unable to definitely identify the robbers.  
-During the second trial the state refined its case and the witnesses were able to identify the petitioner as one of the robbers.

: Whether the State of Missouri violated the D. Jeopardy Clause when it prosecuted the petitioner a second time for armed robbery after the initial jury found him not guilty?
Holding: Yes

: They were charged with seven separate offenses.  Petitioner went to trial for one count of armed robbery - jury found not guilty.  State began second trial - guilty and petitioner was sentenced to 35 years.  State relief 4 years later was denied.  Petitioner filed writ of habeas corpus U.S. D. Ct.; writ denied, Ct of App affirmed.  S. Ct. reversed and remanded.

: Where a previous judgment of acquittal was based upon a general verdict requires the court to examine the record of a prior proceeding, taking into account the pleadings, evidence, charge, and other relevant matter, and conclude whether a rational jury could have grounded its verdict upon an issue other than that which the D seeks to foreclose from consideration.
Collateral Estoppel bars against relitigation of issues previously adjudged upon which a verdict was returned.

: Collateral estoppel bars relitigation between the same parties of issues actually determined at a previous trial and therefor is a due process requirement embodied in the 5th Amendment. The record here is completely devoid of any indication that the first jury could rationally have found that an armed robbery had not occurred, or that named person was not a victim of that robbery.  The jury by its verdict found that the petitioner had not been one of the robbers. 
-The federal rule of law, collateral estoppel and d. jeopardy, renders the second prosecution for the subsequent victims wholly impermissible. 
-Once the jury had determined upon conflicting testimony that there was at least reasonably doubt that the petitioner was one of the robber, the State could not present the same or different identification evidence in a second prosecution in hope that a different jury might find that evidence more convincing.  By refining the presentation of evidence in light of event of the first jury, the prosecution did what the constitution forbids.
Plaintiff’s Argument: The second trial was distinct from the first, it involved different parties.

Defendant’s Argument
: The second prosecution violated the D’s right not to be twice put in jeopardy, by using the same evidence from the acquittal, refined, to find guilt in a subsequent trial.


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