Today, the Supreme Court decided Bravo-Fernandez v. United States, affirming the First Circuit’s affirmance of the defendants’ convictions. The question presented was whether an appellate reversal of a conviction in a mixed verdict case, i.e., where the jury had acquitted on some counts and convicted on others, barred a retrial where the same facts that were necessary to the acquittal were necessary to the conviction, under Ashe v. Swenson’s collateral estoppel rules. The Court held that retrial is not barred by an appellate reversal on unrelated grounds where the trial verdicts are simply inconsistent.
Interestingly, the Court left open the possibility that an appellate reversal of inconsistent convictions might bar retrial where the reversal is on a related ground that permits the court to explain the inconsistency in a way that would give the acquittals preclusive effect.
Justice Thomas filed a separate decision, suggesting that the Court should reconsider Ashe v. Swenson and its progeny, Yeager v. United States, but concurring on the ground that the Court had not extended either decision.
- Bravo-Fernandez v. United States, No. 15-537, Slip Opp. (Nov. 29, 2016) (Court’s PDF).
- United States v. Bravo-Fernandez, Nos. 14-1089, 14-1091, 790 F.3d 41 (1st Cir. 2015).
- Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 90 S.Ct. 1189, 25 L.Ed.2d 469 (1970).
- Yeager v. United States, 557 U.S. 110, 129 S. Ct. 2360, 174 L.Ed.2d 78 (2009) (SCOTUS page).