Collateral Estoppel Elements

Based upon the Supreme Court definition of collateral estoppel, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has established a three-part test for determining whether collateral estoppel applies. (1) An identification of the issues in the two actions for the purpose of determining whether the issues are sufficiently similar and sufficiently material in both actions to justify invoking the doctrine; (2) an examination of the record of the prior case to decide whether the issue was "litigated" in the first case; (3) an examination of the record of the prior proceeding to ascertain whether the issue was necessarily decided in the first case. United States v. Hernandez, 572 F.2d 218, 220 (9th Cir. 1978); United States v. McLaurin, 57 F.3d 823, 826 (9th Cir. 1995) quoting Pettaway v. Plummer, 943 F.2d 1041, 1043-44 (9th Cir. 1991) overruled Santamaria v. Horsley, 133 F.3d 1242 (9th Cir. 1998); United States v. Romeo, 114 F.3d 141, 143 (9th Cir. 1997). the burden of proof is on the defendant to establish that "the issue whose relitigation he seeks to foreclose was actually decided in the first proceeding." Dowling v. United States, 493 U.S. 342, 350, 107 L. Ed. 2d 708, 110 S. Ct. 668, 673 (1990). Whether an issue of ultimate fact has been decided and collateral estoppel may be invoked is a highly fact-specific determination which varies in conjunction with the evidence presented, the charges posed and a careful reading of the elements of those statutes under which the charges were brought. Therefore, case law varies on the application of collateral estoppel. However, the above Ninth Circuit test and U.S. Supreme Court and other case law examining collateral estoppel simply need be applied to the situation before us to determine the propriety of the lower court's ruling. In Ashe , 397 U.S. at 444, 90 S. Ct. at 1194, six men who were playing poker were robbed and Ashe was tried for the robbery of one of the six men. 397 U.S. at 437, 90 S. Ct. at 1191. Ashe's identity as one of the three or four armed robbers was the only disputed issue at trial. He was acquitted, but then subsequently tried and convicted for robbing one of the other poker players. Under a strict application of the double jeopardy clause, based on the "same-elements" or "same offence" test as set forth in the case of United States v. Blockburger, 10 the robbery of one victim would be considered to be a distinct offense from the robbery of another. See Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 167, n. 6, 97 S. Ct. 2221, 2226, n. 6, 53 L. Ed. 2d 187 (1977). However, the Court, in Ashe, held that the successive trial still violated the Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy clause in that the second trial was barred by collateral estoppel, which is "embodied in the Fifth Amendment guarantee against double jeopardy." Ashe, 397 U.S. 445, 90 S. Ct. at 1195; see also People v. Santamaria, 8 Cal. 4th 903, 912, 884 P.2d 81, 84, 35 Cal.Rptr.2d 624, 627 (1994).