St. Mary's Law Journal


This Comment will assess the split in Texas courts over the issue of collateral estoppel’s application in different motion to suppress hearings. By placing collateral estoppel within the confines of the Double Jeopardy Clause, federal law essentially extinguished one form of collateral estoppel and invented another form of the doctrine. Remnants of both forms are still alive, however, and Texas is one state in which both forms of collateral estoppel may be invoked in a criminal proceeding. Part II provides a historical analysis of the exclusionary rule, Double Jeopardy Clause, and collateral estoppel’s rise in criminal court. Part III addresses Texas’s application of collateral estoppel to suppression motions and the split in authority over the issue. Part IV identifies various problems with collateral estoppel’s application to suppression hearings and attempts to reconcile differences between the appellate cases that caused the split. Finally, Part V offers concluding remarks regarding collateral estoppel’s future application to multiple suppression motions. Reconciliation of this issue will occur when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals gives an answer as to which form applies to suppression hearings when prosecutors bring two separate charges in two different courts. From this author’s perspective, the proper course would entail utilizing the common law version of collateral estoppel. If one judge determines an individual’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures has been violated, collateral estoppel should serve to protect that individual’s Fourth Amendment rights in other actions arising from the same illegality. Whether the common law or constitutional form of collateral estoppel will apply to suppression hearings involving separate charges in separate courts ultimately resides within the discretion of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.


St. Mary's University School of Law