Ashe v. Swenson

LOCATION: Riverbed of the Arkansas River

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 397 US 436 (1970)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1969
DECIDED: Apr 06, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Ashe v. Swenson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1969 in Ashe v. Swenson

Warren E. Burger:

Number 57, Ashe against Swenson.

Mr. Clifford, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Clark M. Clifford:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I represent the petitioner in this case, Bob Fred Ashe, who as a result of the verdict of guilty was sentenced to a 35-year term in the Missouri State Penitentiary.

The case involves the construction of the basic theory of double jeopardy.

In this action, four men were charged with holding up a poker game and as a result of that, informations were returned, charging each of the four alleged robbers with six separate offenses because there were six men in the poker game, each was robbed.

So, each of the four defendants was charged with a separate offense.

In this instance Ashe, my client, was tried and acquitted at his first trial.

He then was tried a second time and that time he was convicted.

The facts of the case are of paramount importance.

So, the court will bear with me while I trace briefly what these facts are.

In this town, in the Northern Western portion of Missouri called Lee's Summit, was known from time to time a group gathered to play poker at the home of a man named Gladson and on this Saturday evening, there were six men playing.

It was a game in which bets were made as much as a hundred dollars.

So, from time to time there would be a good deal of money on the poker table.

Early that morning, it would be early Sunday morning on January 10, 1960, there was a disturbance at the door which led into the basement of Mr. Gladson's house where they were having the game.

One of the men got up, the door was pushed open in his face and three men entered, one of them with a shotgun and two of them with pistols.

They said, “This is a stickup.”

They forced the six poker players over with their backs to the wall.

These men gathered up the bills and currency that were lying on the table.

They removed from the persons of the six pokers player their watches, any other valuables that they might have.

When the case came to trial against my client Ashe, he was charged with armed robbery against one of the six poker players whose name was Knight.

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Clifford, I want to be sure I fully understand the facts, it is -- I think you said and did I understand it correctly that these men not only scooped up what was on the table, but also personally went into the pockets of each one of the players?

Clark M. Clifford:

Yes, Your Honor and I was going to give you more detail on that regard.

I first stated the general proposition.

They forced the six men over with their back facing the wall with their backs to the room.

They took whatever cash and valuables there were on the table.

Then, in each instance, they removed from the person of the six poker players, their watches, their rings, their billfolds, whatever they could find of value on the six men who were there.

The question is a curious one as to whether there were three or four of the alleged robbers who came in, but in any event, after they had performed this robbery, these men were tied up.

Their trousers were taken away from them in an effort perhaps to prevent pursuit and the robbers left.

So that just taking Ashe alone, the petitioner here, he had six informations filed against him, alleging these six offenses against the poker players.