409 U.S. 505 (1973), 71-6272, Robinson v. Neil

Docket Nº:No. 71-6272
Citation:409 U.S. 505, 93 S.Ct. 876, 35 L.Ed.2d 29
Party Name:Robinson v. Neil
Case Date:January 16, 1973
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 505

409 U.S. 505 (1973)

93 S.Ct. 876, 35 L.Ed.2d 29




No. 71-6272

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 16, 1973

Argued December 6, 1972




Waller v. Florida, 397 U.S. 387, which bars on the ground of double jeopardy two prosecutions, state and municipal, based on the same act or offense, is fully retroactive. Pp. 506-511.

452 F.2d 370, vacated and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BRENNAN, J., filed a separate opinion, in which DOUGLAS and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 511.

REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1962, petitioner was tried and convicted in the Chattanooga municipal court of three counts of assault and battery in violation of a city ordinance. He was fined $50 and costs on each count. He was later indicted by the grand jury of Hamilton County, Tennessee, which, out of the same circumstances giving rise to the municipal trial, charged him with three offenses of assault with intent to commit murder in violation of state law. The petitioner pleaded guilty to the state charges and received consecutive sentences of three to 10 years for two offenses and three to five years for the third offense. He is presently in the custody of the respondent warden of the Tennessee State Penitentiary.

Page 506

In 1966, the petitioner unsuccessfully sought habeas corpus relief in state courts on the ground that the second convictions for state offenses violated his federal constitutional guarantee against twice being placed in jeopardy for the same offense. In 1967, federal courts denied a similar request for habeas corpus relief. Robinson v. Henderson, 268 F.Supp. 349 (ED Tenn. 1967), aff'd, 391 F.2d 933 (CA6 1968). In 1970, the petitioner renewed his claims for habeas relief, [93 S.Ct. 877] basing his arguments on this Court's intervening decisions in Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784 (1969), and Waller v. Florida, 397 U.S. 387 (1970). Holding that Waller was to be accorded retrospective effect, the District Court granted the petitioner habeas corpus relief. 320 F.Supp. 894 (ED Tenn. 1971). The Sixth Circuit reversed (452 F.2d 370 (1971)), and we granted certiorari to decide the retroactivity of Waller v. Florida. 406 U.S. 916 (1972).

The Fifth Amendment's guarantee that no person be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense was first held binding on the States in Benton v. Maryland, supra. Our subsequent decision in Waller v. Florida, supra, held that the scope of this guarantee precluded the recognition of the "dual sovereignty" doctrine with respect to separate state and municipal prosecutions. Waller involved the theft of a mural from the City Hall of St. Petersburg, Florida. The petitioner there was first tried and convicted of violating city ordinances with respect to the destruction of city property and breach of the peace. Subsequently, he was convicted of grand larceny in violation of state law involving the same theft. The Court stated:

the Florida courts were in error to the extent of holding that --

even if a person has been...

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