Saturday, November 2, 2013

Bartkus v. Illinois case brief

Bartkus v. Illinois case brief summary
359 U.S. 121 (1959)

Defendant filed a petition for rehearing of a judgment by an equally divided Court, which had affirmed defendant's conviction by the Illinois Supreme Court. Certiorari had been granted because the petition raised a substantial question concerning the application of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Defendant was acquitted of robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 2113, in federal court. Defendant was then convicted of robbery, in violation of Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, para. 501 (1951), in state court on facts that were substantially identical to those contained in the prior federal indictment. The conviction was affirmed by the state's supreme court and defendant appealed.

  • The Court held that since the second prosecution was by the state, and not the federal government, defendant's claim of unconstitutionality rested upon the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 
  • The Court held that the task of determining if the federal and state statutes were so much alike that a prosecution under the former barred a prosecution under the latter depended upon a judgment of the gravamen of the state statute and an understanding of the scope of the bar that was historically granted in the state to prevent successive state prosecutions. 
  • The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment was not to be used to interfere with a state's efforts to develop a rational body of criminal law and that the record did not show that the state prosecution was a sham or cover for the federal prosecution.


The Court affirmed the conviction of defendant.

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

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