Knight v. State, F-2001-817.

Decision Date24 April 2002
Docket NumberNo. F-2001-817.,F-2001-817.
Citation46 P.3d 158,2002 OK CR 19
PartiesC.J. KNIGHT, Appellant, v. The STATE of Oklahoma, Appellee.
CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

David Slane, Oklahoma City, OK, for appellant at trial.

Grace Shelton, Assistant District Attorney, Oklahoma City, OK, for the State at trial.

Edward D. Hasbrook, Assistant Municipal Counselor, Oklahoma City, OK, for appellant at trial.

Ronald L. Wallace, Oklahoma City, OK, for appellant on appeal.

W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General of Oklahoma, Jennifer A. Blakeney, Assistant Attorney General, Oklahoma City, OK, for the State on appeal.


LUMPKIN, Presiding Judge.

¶ 1 Appellant, C.J. Knight, was tried by jury in the District Court of Oklahoma County, Case Number CF-93-6078, and convicted of First Degree Manslaughter. The jury set punishment at twenty-five years imprisonment. Appellant was then granted a new trial and acquitted of all charges.

¶ 2 On May 6, 1996, Appellant filed a Motion for Expungement in the District Court, seeking to seal the records in CF-93-6078. The parties agree this motion was denied, after objections were filed and a hearing was held. However, we have no documents relating to this matter, except one brief docket entry indicating the motion was denied by Judge Dan Owens in July of 1996.

¶ 3 Appellant admits he did not file an appeal to the denial of his motion for expungement. He claims the trial judge told him he could file a new motion if he was ever harmed. We have no document to support that bare claim, however, and Appellant admits he was represented by counsel at the time.1

¶ 4 Four years later, Appellant filed a new application for expungement, but made no allegation of a change of circumstances or harm to his privacy interests. The State objected on the basis of res judicata, i.e., that a court had already decided this issue and the facts and law relating to it. See Miller v. Miller, 956 P.2d 887, 896 (Okl.1998) (discussing meaning of res judicata).

¶ 5 The trial court decided the matter on that pure legal issue, finding Appellant's application for expungement was barred by res judicata. The parties were not given an opportunity to introduce evidence into the record on the underlying application. Appellant now appeals from the trial judge's ruling.

¶ 6 Appellant raises one proposition in this appeal, that the district court erred when it found Appellant's action was barred by res judicata. We find, however, that after thoroughly considering this proposition and the meager record before us, the district court's ruling, under the unique facts of this case, was not error, as further explained below.

¶ 7 The law concerning expungement petitions is found at 22 O.S.Supp.2000, § 18 and 22 O.S.Supp.1999, § 19. Section 19(C) specifically provides "[a]ny order entered" pursuant to section nineteen may be appealed. This language arguably suggests a person could file more than one expungement request and appeal each time he or she did.

¶ 8 However, the very nature of an appeal suggests at least some degree of finality. It does not seem to us the Legislature would desire an applicant whose petition for expungement has been denied to have the ability to simply re-file again and again until he ultimately wins. Indeed, the fact that one must appeal within a certain time after such an order surely suggests there is some penalty when you do not appeal within the time given.

¶ 9 In order to resolve these two competing principles, i.e., finality versus non-finality, we find as follows. A person who has lost on his or her first petition for expungement, having followed the procedures outlined in the statutes and in our only case addressing this issue, Hoover v. State, 2001 OK CR 16, 29 P.3d 591,2 must allege and support by affidavit or similar proof a change of circumstances in his second or subsequent expungement petition in order to make a prima facie showing of harm, which may then be rebutted by the State. That change of circumstances must address some new "harm to privacy of the person in interest or dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences" not previously litigated. 22 O.S.Supp.1999, § 19 (C).3

¶ 10 The problem here is we have none of the underlying records to Appellant's first expungement proceeding, i.e., no petition, objections, transcripts, or order. Without those records, we must presume the underlying proceedings were in order and that the trial court followed the statutory guidelines.4


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2 cases
  • State v. Hall
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 23, 2008
  • Buechler v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • December 7, 2007
    ...appeals the trial court's denial of his petition to seal and/or expunge his arrest record. In view of the decision in Knight v. State, 2002 OK CR 19, 46 P.3d 158, the trial court ruled Buechler's petition for expungement barred by res judicator We disagree. We find Buechler's allegations an......

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