Is a Guilty Plea Admissible In a Civil Action As An Admission ?
It is established in California under Teitelbaum Furs, Inc. v. Dominion Ins. Co., Ltd. (1962) and related cases that a guilty plea is admissible in a subsequent civil action as an admission, but it is not conclusive since the issue of guilt was not fully litigated in the criminal proceeding.
In Stevens v. Bispham (Ore. 1993), the Oregon Supreme Court held an undisturbed guilty plea precluded a malpractice action because "in view of the extensive statutory provisions already in place for the protection of convicted offenders including relief through a habeas corpus proceeding for ineffective assistance of counsel, . . . it would be inappropriate to treat victims of alleged negligence by defense counsel as having been 'harmed,' for the purpose of maintaining a legal malpractice action . . . unless they show that their counsel failed to meet the established standards in a way that would make post-conviction relief appropriate." (Stevens v. Bispham, supra, 851 P.2d at p. 562.)
In Peeler v. Hughes & Luce (Tex. 1995) 909 S.W.2d 494, 497-498, the Texas Supreme Court held a standing guilty plea is a "sole proximate cause bar" to a criminal malpractice claim. (Id. at pp. 497-498.)
"Public policy prohibits convicts from profiting from their illegal conduct, and allowing civil recovery for convicts impermissibly shifts responsibility for the crime away from the convict.
This opportunity to shift much, if not all, of the punishment assessed against convicts for their criminal acts to their former attorneys, drastically diminishes the consequences of the convicts' criminal conduct and seriously undermines our system of criminal justice." (Id. at p. 498);
Labovitz v. Feinberg (Mass. App. 1999) 47 Mass. App. Ct. 306, 713 N.E.2d 379 guilty plea;
Shaw v. State, Dept. of Admin., PDA (Ala. 1991) 816 P.2d 1358 jury trial;
Carmel v. Lunney (N.Y. App. 1987) 70 N.Y.2d 169, 511 N.E.2d 1126, 1128, 518 N.Y.S.2d 605 guilty plea;
State ex. rel. O'Blennis v. Adolf (Mo. App. 1985) 691 S.W.2d 498 guilty plea;
Krahn v. Kinney (Ohio 1989) 43 Ohio St. 3d 103, 538 N.E.2d 1058; Jepson v. Stubbs (Mo. 1977) 555 S.W.2d 307.)
Notably, jurisdictions holding that post-conviction exoneration is a prerequisite to a criminal malpractice action also hold "that the statute of limitations does not begin to run, and an action for legal malpractice does not accrue, until a criminal defendant receives relief from his conviction." (Silvers v. Brodeur (Ind. App. 1997) 682 N.E.2d 811, 815;
See also Stevens v. Bispham, supra, 851 P.2d at p. 565 plaintiff did not suffer legally cognizable harm until exonerated of the underlying criminal offense; Shaw v. State, Dept. of Admin., PDA, supra, 816 P.2d at p. 1360 "Given that obtaining post-conviction relief will remain uncertain until actually granted, the statute of limitations for filing legal malpractice claims must be tolled until such relief is granted".)