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Bravo-Fernandez v. United States

Justia Summary

A jury convicted Bravo and Martínez of bribery (18 U.S.C. 666), simultaneously acquitting them of conspiring to and traveling in interstate commerce to violate section 666. The only contested issue was whether they had violated section 666; the other elements of the acquitted charges (agreement and travel) were undisputed. The verdicts were, therefore, inconsistent. The convictions were vacated. The First Circuit held that section 666 proscribes only quid pro quo bribery, while the charge had permitted the jury to convict on a gratuity theory. On remand, the defendants moved for acquittal, arguing that the issue-preclusion component of the Double Jeopardy Clause barred retrial because the jury necessarily determined that they were not guilty under section 666 when it acquitted them of the related conspiracy and Travel Act offenses. The First Circuit and a unanimous Supreme Court affirmed denial of the motions. Double Jeopardy Clause issue preclusion does not bar retrial after a jury has returned irreconcilably inconsistent verdicts, where the convictions are later vacated for legal error unrelated to the inconsistency. The defendants bear the burden of showing that whether they violated section 666 has been “determined by a valid and final judgment of acquittal.” A conviction that contradicts their acquittals is plainly relevant to that determination, even if later overturned on appeal for unrelated legal error. A verdict of guilt is a jury decision, even if subsequently vacated.

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