Washington Law Review


James M. Feeley


This Comment has been prompted by two recent United States Supreme Court decisions, Bartkus v. Illinois, and Abbate v. United States. In the former decision Bartkus, the defendant, was tried in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on December 18, 1953, for the robbery of a federally insured savings and loan association of Cicero, Illinois, in violation of a federal statute. There was a jury trial and Bartkus was acquitted. Then on January 8, 1954, Bartkus was indicted by an Illinois grand jury charging a violation of a state robbery statute. This time Bartkus was convicted, and under an habitual criminal statute sentenced to life imprisonment. Between these two trials additional evidence to refute the defendant's alibi was obtained, and either for this reason or some other, the second panel of Illinois jurors came to an opposite conclusion from that of their federal predecessors. The Illinois court rejected the plea of autrefois acquit, and the Supreme Court of the United States upheld in a five-to-four decision the Illinois court, indicating that its rejection of the plea in bar was not a violation of the defendant's right to due process of law under the fourteenth amendment.

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