What Does ''Collateral Estoppel'' Mean ?

In general, the doctrine of collateral estoppel "means that when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by a valid and final judgment, the issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuits." Ex parte Culver, 932 S.W.2d 207, 212 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1996, pet. ref'd) (citing Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 443, 90 S. Ct. 1189, 1194, 25 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1970)). The court of criminal appeals has noted the distinction between collateral estoppel and double jeopardy: To state the distinction in more prosaic terms, the traditional bar of double jeopardy prohibits prosecution of the crime itself, whereas collateral estoppel, in a more modest fashion, simply forbids the government from relitigating certain facts in order to establish the fact of the crime. Tarver, 725 S.W.2d 195, 198 (quoting Dedrick v. State, 623 S.W.2d 332, 336 (Tex. Crim. App. 1981)). In State v. Aguilar, 947 S.W.2d 257, 259 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997), the court listed the elements necessary to support collateral estoppel: (1). "there must be a 'full hearing' at which the parties had an opportunity to thoroughly and fairly litigate the relevant fact issue"; (2) "the fact issue must be the same in both proceedings"; (3) "the fact finder must have acted in a judicial capacity" in each of the proceedings. Id. at 259. The court of criminal appeals has suggested that "the constitutional protections of collateral estoppel are coterminous with the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause." Reynolds v. State, 4 S.W.3d 13, 24 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999) (Dissenting Opinion). However, the court has also recognized the potential for common-law application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel beyond the double jeopardy context. State v. Aguilar, 947 S.W.2d 257, 259-60 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). This concept has been recognized by many of the courts of appeal as well. See: State v. Ayala, 981 S.W.2d 474, 477 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1998, pet. ref'd); Ex Parte Gregerman, 974 S.W.2d 800, 803 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1998, no pet.); Ex Parte Serna, 957 S.W.2d 598, 601-02 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 1997, no pet.); Ex Parte Pipkin, 935 S.W.2d 213, 215-16 (Tex. App.--Amarillo 1996, no pet.); 5. Manning v. State, 870 S.W.2d 200, 203 (Tex. App.--Eastland 1994, pet. ref'd).