Representing the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – Miami Chapter, firm attorneys Howard Srebnick and Joshua Shore co-authored an amicus brief in support of the defendants in the Supreme Court of the United States in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, 15-108. The Court ruled in favor of the defendants, holding that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred Puerto Rico from prosecuting them after they had already been adjudicated in federal court for the same offense. Applying the so-called “dual sovereignty” doctrine — which allows separate sovereigns to prosecute a defendant for the same crime — the Majority held, consistent with FACDL-Miami’s brief, that Puerto Rico and the United States were not separate sovereigns within the meaning of that doctrine.
Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Thomas, concurred in the judgment but wrote her own opinion to “flag a larger question” — advanced exclusively by FACDL-Miami’s brief — that the continued viability of the dual-sovereignty doctrine “bears fresh examination in an appropriate case.” The brief urged the Court to
re-examine the dual sovereignty doctrine, especially in light of the expanded federalization of crime, in an age of cooperative federalism between federal and state governments. Amicus submits, consistent with the observations of numerous jurists and commentators, that the Court should abandon the dual sovereignty doctrine and hold that the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause bars a successive prosecution for the same crime, even if initiated by a different prosecuting authority.