Guajardo v. State

Decision Date02 July 2003
Docket NumberNo. 1647-00.,1647-00.
Citation109 S.W.3d 456
PartiesJose Fidel GUAJARDO, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas.
CourtTexas Court of Criminal Appeals

Charles Cecil Starcher, Corpus Christi, for Appellant.

James D. Rosenkild, Asst. DA, Corpus Christi, Matthew Paul, State's Atty., Austin, for State.

Before the court en banc.


COCHRAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by MEYERS, PRICE, WOMACK and HOLCOMB, JJ.

In this case we must decide whether a defendant may obtain appellate review of his collateral estoppel claim, when the trial court rejected that claim, if he fails to introduce a record of the first proceeding in the second proceeding and to include that record on appeal.1 He cannot. Without the complete record, no reviewing court can determine exactly what specific facts the first factfinder actually found. Without that complete record, no reviewing court can address whether collateral estoppel might apply in a particular context or whether a trial court erred in rejecting that claim in a specific case. Therefore, we reverse the court of appeals, which held that appellant had "shown the predicate elements for the employment of collateral estoppel in the district court prosecution."2


In 1994, appellant was charged with a felony offense of carrying an unlawful weapon. He pleaded guilty in a Nueces County district court and was placed on five years' community supervision. In February 1998, Corpus Christi police officers arrested appellant for possession of cocaine and marijuana. The county attorney filed a misdemeanor marijuana charge in county court; the district attorney filed a felony cocaine charge in district court, along with a motion to revoke probation in the carrying-an-unlawful-weapon case.

According to the officers' offense report,3 Corpus Christi Police Officers Leal and May were on routine nighttime patrol when they saw appellant's car. Officer Leal noticed that the license-plate light on the car was not working, so he made a Uturn and turned on his emergency equipment to initiate a traffic stop of appellant's car. Officer May saw appellant throw two small items out of the passenger side window before appellant stopped his car. While Officer Leal approached appellant, Officer May returned to the spot where he had seen appellant discard the items. Several people were standing around the spot, looking at a clear plastic bag containing a white powdery substance. One person said that she had seen this bag thrown out of a car, sail over the bed of a parked truck, and land on the sidewalk. Officer May retrieved the bag and then found a freshly burnt marijuana cigarette in the bed of the parked truck. After Officer May returned and told Officer Leal about the items that he had recovered, the officers arrested appellant. Officer Leal searched appellant at the jail and found an envelope containing $2,360 in cash. The items appellant had thrown out of his car window tested positive for marijuana and cocaine.

Appellant filed motions to suppress the evidence in both the county court and the district court, alleging that the police illegally arrested him and searched his car. After hearing testimony, the county court judge granted the motion to suppress. Apparently, the county attorney then dismissed the marijuana charges. The appellant returned to the district court and orally claimed that collateral estoppel barred any further litigation of the search and seizure issue in the district court. After being granted a continuance to have the record of the suppression hearing in the county court transcribed, appellant apparently provided the district court judge and felony prosecutor4 with that transcript. Appellant never offered that transcript into evidence and did not make it a part of the appellate record. During the district court hearing, the prosecutor stated:

Your Honor, I'm asking this Court not to suppress the evidence, and I understand, I think I understand the Court's reluctance to maybe make a different determination than a fellow judge, and after reading the transcript I will go on record [sic] your fellow judge, based on what she had before her, probably made a wise and informed decision, but I believe my fellow prosecutor in the County Court didn't pick up on a legal argument and I want to inform the Court that even if you assume that your fellow judge's factual determination was true, I'm not agreeing that it's true, but even if you assume that it's true, that this evidence should not have been suppressed ...

The prosecutor then argued that appellant had "abandoned" the drugs before he was detained by the police and thus appellant had no standing to complain about their recovery by police from the sidewalk and truck bed. The district court judge noted that appellant's written suppression motion was directed toward the search of appellant's car, but no drugs were recovered from his car.5

The district court judge asked appellant's attorney: "What is the law in the State of Texas where a person abandons contraband? Is that a search or is it not a search?" Counsel responded: "I believe it's a search. Reasonable suspicion to even come in contact with my client, Your Honor, started the search. The case has been litigated .... That's the case we're relying upon, Judge. It has been litigated once. To litigate it again would be collateral estoppel." The trial judge commented: "But that sounds to me as if the [county court] judge made the wrong [legal] decision," and he then denied appellant's motion to suppress and his oral plea of collateral estoppel.6

Appellant appealed the collateral estoppel issue to the court of appeals. The State contended that, as a threshold matter, the appellate record was not sufficient for the court of appeals even to address the district court's ruling. It noted that appellant failed to introduce any documents from the county court case, including the court reporter's record of the hearing, any written motion to suppress, any order granting the motion to suppress, any docket sheet or any dismissal order, as evidence or exhibits in the district court. Nor were any of these materials included in the appellate record.

The court of appeals, however, stated that: "there is nothing in the record to indicate that the hearing was anything other than a `full hearing' on the suppression issue."7 It concluded that "the district court erred in denying Guajardo's special pleas of collateral estoppel.8

The State filed a petition for discretionary review with this Court setting out ten different questions for review. We granted six of those questions, but, because we decide the case based on the State's first question for review, we dismiss the rest as unnecessary to the disposition of this case.


It is well-settled law that, in reviewing any collateral estoppel claim, both the trial and appellate courts must "examine the record of [the prior proceeding], taking into account the pleadings, evidence, charge, and other relevant matters,"9 to determine whether a rational factfinder could have grounded its decision on a fact other than the specific fact that the party now claims has been resolved in his favor. Collateral estoppel deals only with specific factual determinations, not legal claims or legal conclusions.10

The burden is "on the defendant to demonstrate, by examination of the record of the first proceeding, that the [factual] issue he seeks to foreclose was actually decided in the first proceeding."11 Here, as in Dowling v. United States,12 appellant has failed to present a record which could support his claim. The Supreme Court stated, in that case, that "[t]he only clue to the issues in the earlier case was a discussion between the prosecutor, Dowling's attorney, and the District Judge that took place during the hearing[,]" in which the defendant claimed that collateral estoppel barred the admission of evidence concerning a prior robbery for which he had been acquitted.13 Without a record of the first trial, the Court explained, "[t]here are any number of possible explanations for the jury's acquitta.... As the record stands, there is nothing 1at all that persuasively indicates that the question of identity was at issue and was determined in Dowling's favor at that prior trial[.]"14

In this case, the court of appeals stated that:

the relevant fact issue was the validity of the stop and search which resulted in the seizure of narcotics. It is undisputed that the marijuana at issue in the county court at law and the cocaine at issue in the district court were seized at the same time as a fruit of the same search. It stands to reason that the fact issues surrounding the lawfulness of the search in one case will be the same in the other. Accordingly, we conclude that the fact issue in each case was the same.15

Although it might "stand to reason" that fact issues decided in one suppression hearing would be the same as those presented in a second one, any such conclusion is simply a "possibility" and not a certainty.16 That type of speculation about the factual findings in a prior proceeding is precisely what the Supreme Court did not permit in Dowling. Under Ashe v. Swenson and its progeny, an appellate court must review the entire testimonial record in the first proceeding to determine precisely what specific facts were actually decided and whether the resolution of those facts necessarily forecloses further proceedings. Without that record, appellant cannot even reach first base.

Thus, neither we nor the court of appeals could fulfill Ashe v. Swenson's mandate that a reviewing court, in applying the doctrine of collateral estoppel, must examine the proceedings in the previous hearing. Because the trial court denied appellant's claim of collateral estoppel, and neither the court of appeals nor this Court has a transcript of the first suppression hearing, we hold that appellant failed to provide a sufficient appellate record to review the...

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