Byrd v. People, No. 01SC850.

Docket NºNo. 01SC850.
Citation58 P.3d 50
Case DateNovember 18, 2002
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

58 P.3d 50

Todd BYRD, Petitioner,
v.
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Respondent

No. 01SC850.

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc.

November 18, 2002.


58 P.3d 52
Fife & McCullough, P.C., Michael A. McCullough, Kirsten E. Tucker, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner

Mark M. Myers, District Attorney, Ninth Judicial District, Katharine T. Sullivan, Deputy District Attorney, Aspen, Colorado, for Respondent.

58 P.3d 51
Justice BENDER delivered the Opinion of the Court

I. Introduction

In this case we consider whether a court may apply the doctrine of issue preclusion to bar a defendant's right to trial on a criminal charge when the same factual issue was previously determined in the prosecution's favor in a probation revocation hearing. Because probation revocation hearings are held for different purposes than criminal trials, use different procedures, and do not protect a defendant's rights as required by the Federal and Colorado Constitutions for a criminal trial, we hold that issue preclusion does not apply for two reasons. First, a threshold requirement of issue preclusion was not met because the defendant did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the revocation hearing. Second, a determination of guilt or innocence in a probation revocation hearing would undermine the function of the criminal trial process. In other words, a finding in a probation revocation hearing that a new crime occurred does not operate to preclude the right of an accused to a trial on the newly charged crime. Hence, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand this case to the district court with directions to return the case to the county court for trial.

II. Facts and Proceedings Below

Defendant Todd Byrd was placed on felony probation for crimes not connected to these proceedings. During his probationary term, he was charged with the crime of driving with a revoked license, which constituted both a violation of his probation and a new criminal act. Thereafter, the prosecution sought to revoke the defendant's probation on the basis of this new criminal charge. The prosecution also charged him with driving under revocation pursuant to section 42-2-138(1)(a), 11 C.R.S. (2002). Before trial on the criminal charge occurred in county court,1 the district court found that the defendant

58 P.3d 53
had violated the terms of his probation because he drove while his license was revoked.2

After this hearing, the defendant, who waived his right to a jury trial, appeared before the county court ready for trial on the new criminal charge. The prosecution moved for an immediate finding of guilt under a "res judicata or claim preclusion theory."3 The prosecution argued that at the defendant's probation revocation hearing, the district court entered a final judgment finding the defendant had driven while his license was revoked and therefore, the district court had already decided the issue to be litigated in the trial. The trial court, relying upon O'Neill v. Simpson, 958 P.2d 1121, 1123 n. 5 (Colo.1998), concluded that the prosecution satisfied all of the requirements of the doctrine of issue preclusion and entered a judgment of conviction against Byrd without holding a trial.

The defendant appealed to the district court, which affirmed the conviction. The district court reasoned that the issue in the probation revocation hearing and trial was the same, that the parties were the same, and that the district court had previously entered a final judgment on the merits at the revocation hearing and accordingly, the doctrine applied.

The defendant petitioned this court for certiorari pursuant to C.A.R. 52(a) and section 13-6-310(4), 5 C.R.S. (2002). We granted certiorari on the issue of "whether the district court violated the defendant's constitutional rights when it estopped him from adjudicating the criminal charge against him and entered a judgment of guilty without a trial based upon the outcome of a probation revocation hearing."

III. Analysis

1. Issue Preclusion

We begin by briefly discussing the principles of issue preclusion, or collateral estoppel.4 This doctrine generally bars relitigation of an issue that was actually determined in a prior action between the same parties. See, e.g., Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 443, 90 S.Ct. 1189, 25 L.Ed.2d 469 (1970). Its purpose is to promote judicial economy, to conserve private resources, and to protect parties from unnecessary or vexatious litigation. People v. Allee, 740 P.2d 1, 4 (Colo.1987). Initially developed in the context of civil litigation, most courts have applied issue preclusion in criminal cases as well, at least when its application benefits the defendant.5 As we stated in People v. Smith, 938 P.2d 111, 113 (Colo.1997), "The fundamental principal of collateral estoppel [in a criminal case] is that the defendant should be protected from having to relitigate an issue of ultimate fact once that issue has been

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determined by a valid and final judgment." When used to benefit a defendant, the doctrine has been viewed as being embodied in the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against double jeopardy. People v. Kernanen, 178 Colo. 234, 237, 497 P.2d 8, 10 (1972); Ashe, 397 U.S. at 445, 90 S.Ct. 1189

Although courts in other jurisdictions have held that the government may not invoke issue preclusion in a criminal case against a defendant,6 we have not decided this issue, and we do not reach that issue here.

We have, however, previously determined that this doctrine may be invoked by the accused in a criminal case. In Williamsen v. People, 735 P.2d 176, 182 (Colo.1987), a criminal case in which a defendant sought in part to use issue preclusion in his favor, we set forth the elements required to satisfy the doctrine: (1) the issue sought to be precluded must be identical to an issue actually and necessarily decided in a prior proceeding; (2) there must have been a final judgment on the merits in the first proceeding; (3) there must be identity of parties or privity between the parties against whom the doctrine is asserted; and (4) the party against whom issue preclusion is asserted must have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior proceeding. Later, in Allee, we stated that while courts may apply the doctrine liberally in a civil context, issue preclusion should be applied more conservatively in criminal cases because "it is the correctness of the result which is of pre-eminent concern in a criminal prosecution," rather than conserving time and resources. 740 P.2d at 9 (citing People v. Berkowitz, 50 N.Y.2d 333, 428 N.Y.S.2d 927, 406 N.E.2d 783, 789-90 (1980).) We further note here that the public policies underlying the doctrine of issue preclusion — preservation of the integrity of the judicial system, promotion of judicial economy, and protection of litigants from harassment from vexatious litigation — will influence our determination of whether its application would be fair to the parties and constitute sound judicial decision making. See Salida Sch. Dist. R-32-J v. Morrison, 732 P.2d 1160, 1163 (Colo.1987); Lucido v. Superior Court, 51 Cal.3d 335, 272 Cal.Rptr. 767, 795 P.2d 1223, 1227 (1990).

In addition to outlining the elements of the doctrine in Williamsen, we stated that the Restatement (Second) of Judgments (1980) includes exceptions to the general rule of issue preclusion, and in certain circumstances, even if the elements are satisfied, courts should not preclude the relitigation of an issue. 735 P.2d at 182. Section 28(3) of the Restatement states that relitigation of an issue is not precluded when "[a] new determination of the issue is warranted by differences in the quality or extensiveness of the procedures followed in the two courts ...." Comment d to section 28 further states that a compelling reason may exist not to apply issue preclusion when "the procedures available in the first court ... have been tailored to the prompt, inexpensive determination of small claims ...." Thus, the procedures of the first proceeding "may be wholly inappropriate to the determination of the same issues when presented in the context of a much larger claim." See also Salida School Dist. R-32-J, 732 P.2d at 1165; Sunny Acres Villa, Inc. v. Cooper, 25 P.3d 44, 48 (Colo. 2001). We read these exceptions and public

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policies that underlie issue preclusion as interrelated, and we consider both in our analysis.

In Williamsen, we considered in part whether a defendant could use an acquittal resulting from a hearing on a traffic infraction to invoke issue preclusion and prevent the introduction of that infraction in a subsequent criminal trial. We concluded that the prosecution was not barred from introducing evidence of the infraction even though the defendant had previously been acquitted on that charge. 735 P.2d at 183. We reasoned that "[t]he salutary purposes of informal traffic infraction hearings would be frustrated if collateral estoppel were to be applied so as to limit a full and fair consideration of the issue in a criminal trial." Id. (comparing Salida School District, 732 P.2d at 1165 (the purposes of an unemployment hearing would be frustrated if issue preclusion were applied to bind parties in a subsequent civil trial.)) Thus, Williamsen stands for the proposition that if the purposes and procedures are significantly different, then the fourth element of issue preclusion has not been satisfied because the party against whom the doctrine is asserted did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior proceeding.

2. Probation revocation hearings are held for different purposes, governed by different procedures, and do not protect a defendant's rights as does a criminal trial

Our precedent differentiates probation revocation hearings from criminal trials. While the prosecution must prove both a criminal violation of a probation condition and a criminal offense beyond...

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51 practice notes
  • Ex parte Doan, No. PD–1547–10.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • 20 Junio 2012
    ...that “violation of probation is not a crime, and a ruling that probation has been violated is not a new conviction”). 22.Byrd v. State, 58 P.3d 50, 57–59 (Colo.2002). 23.Thompson v. Commonwealth, 147 S.W.3d 22, 53–54 (Ky.2004); State v. Haagenson, 356 Mont. 177, 182–86, 232 P.3d 367, 371–74......
  • Villanueva v. People, No. 07SC954.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 15 Diciembre 2008
    ...court may consider his actions while on probation in determining the appropriate sentence after probation has been revoked. Byrd v. People, 58 P.3d 50, 55 (Colo. 2002). Convictions are a Blakely-exempt because they have been previously determined by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt or admit......
  • Louis Peoples v. Long, Civil Action 1:20-cv-02116-RBJ-NYW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • 13 Diciembre 2021
    ...whom claim preclusion is sought must have had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the first proceeding. Byrd v. People, 58 P.3d 50, 54 (Colo. 2002). Further, “Defendants have the burden of setting forth facts sufficient to satisfy the elements of res judicata.” Edmond v. Cl......
  • People v. Timoshchuk, Court of Appeals No. 17CA0259
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 1 Noviembre 2018
    ...the prosecution may call the probationer as a witness, and his refusal to answer questions may be used against him. Byrd v. People , 58 P.3d 50, 56-57 (Colo. 2002).¶ 17 To our knowledge, no Colorado appellate court has directly addressed whether the interplay of sections 16-11-206 and 16-7-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
51 cases
  • Ex parte Doan, No. PD–1547–10.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • 20 Junio 2012
    ...that “violation of probation is not a crime, and a ruling that probation has been violated is not a new conviction”). 22.Byrd v. State, 58 P.3d 50, 57–59 (Colo.2002). 23.Thompson v. Commonwealth, 147 S.W.3d 22, 53–54 (Ky.2004); State v. Haagenson, 356 Mont. 177, 182–86, 232 P.3d 367, 371–74......
  • Villanueva v. People, No. 07SC954.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 15 Diciembre 2008
    ...court may consider his actions while on probation in determining the appropriate sentence after probation has been revoked. Byrd v. People, 58 P.3d 50, 55 (Colo. 2002). Convictions are a Blakely-exempt because they have been previously determined by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt or admit......
  • Louis Peoples v. Long, Civil Action 1:20-cv-02116-RBJ-NYW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • 13 Diciembre 2021
    ...whom claim preclusion is sought must have had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the first proceeding. Byrd v. People, 58 P.3d 50, 54 (Colo. 2002). Further, “Defendants have the burden of setting forth facts sufficient to satisfy the elements of res judicata.” Edmond v. Cl......
  • People v. Timoshchuk, Court of Appeals No. 17CA0259
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 1 Noviembre 2018
    ...the prosecution may call the probationer as a witness, and his refusal to answer questions may be used against him. Byrd v. People , 58 P.3d 50, 56-57 (Colo. 2002).¶ 17 To our knowledge, no Colorado appellate court has directly addressed whether the interplay of sections 16-11-206 and 16-7-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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