Ashe v. Swenson Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Ashe was one of four men arrested for robbing six men who were playing poker in the basement of the home of John Gladson in January of 1960. He was acquitted of the charges for one of the robberies and was brought to stand trial for a second. This case is dispositive of the second trial.

Facts of the case




A second prosecution for a crime arising out of the same course of events is impermissible. Reversed and Remanded.


The Supreme Court concluded that collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, was a part of the guarantee under U.S. Const. amend. V against double jeopardy. The Court reviewed the record to determine if defendant’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 defendant’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.

  • Case Brief: 1970
  • Petitioner: Ashe
  • Respondent: Swenson
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 397 US 436 (1970)
Argued: Nov 13, 1969
Decided: Apr 6, 1970