This content was written for Cale Law Office
Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale always tries to get evidence thrown out of the case so that the case can be dismissed. He starts by meeting with you to discuss your matter and develops a defense strategy plan. Then, he files a motion for discovery. This is a mechanism for an attorney to find out what evidence the state has against the defendant. It can be used to evaluate whether or not the state has enough evidence to uphold a charge.
Not all cases go to trial said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale. Also, not all cases result in a plea deal. Some cases can be thrown out through a motion to suppress evidence. This occurs when police or other authorities have unlawfully obtained evidence against the defendant.
In one case not handled by attorney Stephen Cale, a woman was charged with driving under the influence. Her driver’s license was revoked by the Department of Public Safety. She appealed the revocation to the District Court. The District Court ruled in part that she had been seized in their seizure was unconstitutional. Later, the woman filed a motion to suppress in the misdemeanor DUI case. At that hearing before the judge, the woman argued that as the district court had ruled in her driver’s license revocation appeal that her stop and seizure unconstitutional, the doctrine of collateral estoppel applied and precluded the District Attorney’s Office from really litigating the issue in the criminal case.
The DAs office contended that the issues heard the DPS hearing were identical to the issues in the misdemeanor case. However, the state also argued that the District Attorney’s Office and DPS were not the same parties for the purposes of collateral estoppel and that the District Attorney’s Office did not have a full and fair hearing on the issue to be precluded. The trial court granted the motion to suppress finding that the doctrine of collateral estoppel applied to the District Attorney’s Office was therefore not able to relitigate the constitutionality of the defendant’s seizure.
On appeal, the state argued that the suppress evidence force a substantial part of the proof of the criminal charge and that the prosecution cannot proceed if the motion to suppress is upheld. Therefore, the state argued that Oklahoma court of criminal appeals needed to review the matter as it was in the best interest of justice.
The state argued that the Department of Public Safety is not the same as the criminal proceeding as far’s the issues go that the issue is not finally adjudicated in the license revocation appeal. The state asserted that the court should adopt US Supreme Court precedent which applies a two-part test to determine when a civil proceeding triggers the data Double Jeopardy Clause and that the defendant’s license revocation was not a form of criminal punishment that would trigger double jeopardy. The state also argued that DPS of the District Attorney’s Office are not the same party or privity and that the District Attorney’s Office did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue at the hearing on the license revocation appeal.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals addresseddid the doctrine of collateral estoppel in a 2002 case. In a case, the appellate court stated that the doctrine of collateral estoppel stands for the principle that when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by valid and final judgment, the issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuit. This is a rule of law that applies to criminal proceedings and is embodied in the fifth amendment guarantee against double jeopardy. To apply collateral estoppel, the following must be established: 1) the issue previously decided is identical with the one presented in the action in question; 2) the prior action has been finally adjudicated on the merits; 3) the party against whom the doctrine is invoked was a party, or in privity with a party, to the prior adjudication; and 4) the party against whom the doctrine is raised had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior action.
The appellate court looked at the second prong of the test to determine whether the collateral estoppel doctrine applied. In previous cases in other jurisdictions, there is a split on whether different state agencies of the same party or in privity for purposes of collateral estoppel. For example, the Wyoming Supreme Court found that no privity existed between the Wyoming Department of Transportation in the county the district attorney’s. In that case the court stated that there was no privity because the relationship between the governmental agencies, in this case, is slim similar to another case in which the court found privity to exist because the deputy county attorney who handled the criminal prosecution was appointed as a special Assistant Attorney General to initiate and conduct the subsequent forfeiture hearing. In a Texas case, the appellate court held that the Dallas County district attorney was not collaterally estopped from litigating the issue of probe cause for the defendant’s arrest at a suppression hearing in the criminal prosecution. The court reasoned that the law that applied to that defendant’s case did not authorize the Minister the judge to make findings on the issue of probable cause for an arrest nor to that the state on notice that this issue might be litigated at the administrative hearing. However, in a North Carolina case that states appellate court found that the district attorney, representing the state in a defendant’s criminal prosecution for DWI, was in privity with the Attorney General, which represent the state in the defendants appeal to a civil license revocation as both offices represent the interest of the people of North Carolina regardless of whether beef the district attorney in a criminal court or the Attorney General in a civil or criminal appeal.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals held that those decisions on the issue privity were based in part on state statutory and case law which is not necessarily the same as in Oklahoma. Further, in some of the cases in the other jurisdictions, the license revocation proceedings are purely administrative. In Oklahoma, hearings concerning the revocation of a driver’s license is an administrative proceeding. However, a DPS or for revocation can be appealed to the District Court. At that point, it becomes a judicial proceeding.