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Supreme Court hears arguments on double jeopardy, bank fraud
Supreme Court hears arguments on double jeopardy, bank fraud

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Tuesday in Bravo-Fernandez v. United States [transcript, PDF]. The court is being asked to decide whether an unconstitutional, vacated conviction can “cancel” out the preclusive effect of an acquittal under the double jeopardy clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution. The case [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] arises out of a federal prosecution in Puerto Rice for political bribery conspiracy. The defendants’ convictions were vacated due to improper jury instructions. The petitioners ask the court to consider whether the acquittals on some of the counts prevent retrial on remaining counts. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that these particular acquittals removed the collateral estoppel effect.

The court also heard oral arguments Tuesday in Shaw v. United States [transcript, PDF]. The court is being asked to decide whether the “scheme to defraud a financial institution” requirement of the federal bank-fraud statute [text] requires proof of specific intent to cheat, as well as to deceive, a bank. The case [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] arises from the conviction of a man who illegally drained another person’s bank account, but who claims on appeal that because he did not intend to defraud the bank itself, the statute does not apply. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld [opinion, PDF] the conviction, holding that the government does not have to prove that the defrauder actually intended to suffer a financial loss.