Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ashe v. Swenson case brief

Ashe v. Swenson case brief summary
397 U.S. 436 (1970)

Petitioner prisoner sought review of a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit that affirmed denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus for review of his claim that double jeopardy had attached to bar his second criminal trial and subsequent conviction for robbery.

Petitioner was charged along with several other men of robbing six men, but was acquitted at trial on one of the robbery counts based on insufficient evidence that he was one of the robbers. After petitioner was retried and convicted under a separate robbery count, he unsuccessfully appealed his conviction and unsuccessfully sought a writ of habeas corpus to hear his claim that his second prosecution violated his right not to be put in jeopardy twice.


  • The Supreme Court concluded that collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, was a part of the guarantee under U.S. Constitutional Amendment V against double jeopardy. 
  • The Court reviewed the record to determine if petitioner's criminal conviction could have been decided upon any issue other than that which he sought to foreclose from consideration. 
  • The Court found that the only rationally conceivable issue in dispute before the jury in petitioner's first trial was whether he was one of the robbers. 
  • Since the jury had concluded that he was not, collateral estoppel made his second prosecution for the robbery unconstitutional and impermissible.


The judgment denying petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was reversed and remanded after the Supreme Court concluded that collateral estoppel was a part of the guarantee under the Fifth Amendment against double jeopardy. The Court found that petitioner's rights had been violated when he was tried, acquitted, retried, and subsequently convicted on the same issue of his involvement in a robbery.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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