Bravo-Fernandez v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: March 28, 2016
  • Case #: 15-537
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court below: 790 F.3d 41 (1st Cir. 2013)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether an acquittal’s preclusive effect pursuant to the Double Jeopardy Clause is divested by a vacated, unconstitutional conviction?

Petitioners, a president of a securities firm and a former member of the Puerto Rico Senate, were indicted on several bribery-related charges for a transaction involving the Senator’s expenses-paid trip to a Las Vegas boxing match in exchange for his voting support for two securities related bills. Among other counts, Petitioners were charged and acquitted of conspiring and traveling to violate 18 U.S.C. § 666 in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, but were found guilty of violating § 666. On appeal, the First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the § 666 convictions because of faulty jury instructions and further held that the vacated conviction did not permit Petitioners to assert their double jeopardy rights and that the acquittals did not have any preclusive effect on future prosecutions. Petitioners argue that because the jury could not have convicted them of § 666 without convicting them of conspiracy and traveling to violate § 666 that double jeopardy should apply. Petitioners argue that collateral estoppel, as set forth in the United States Supreme Court’s decisions Ashe v. Swenson and Yeager v. United States, precludes the United States from retrying them for violations of § 666, when the issue was decided by the juries acquittal of the conspiracy charge, and extends the preclusive effects to vacated, unconstitutional convictions.

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