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Name: People v. Gordon
Case #: B209075
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/02/2009

Under principles of collateral estoppel, acquittal of defendant by the jury bars a subsequent trial on any issue of ultimate fact determined by the jury verdict. Appellant was charged with felony murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and felon in possession of a firearm. Prior to trial, the court granted the defense motion to bifurcate the felon in possession charge and appellant agreed that it could be heard by the trial court following the jury verdict. At trial, both parties argued identification and the jury returned verdicts of acquittal on the felony murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping charges. The trial court, trying the felon in possession of a firearm charge on the evidence presented at jury trial, disagreed with the jury’s factual determination and convicted appellant of the offense. The appellate court reversed, noting that collateral estoppel applies to criminal as well as civil proceedings. Where a judgment of general acquittal is based on a general verdict, the court must examine the record of the prior proceeding and conclude whether the verdict could have been based on an issue other than the one “defendant seeks to foreclose from consideration.” (Ashe v. Swensen (1970) 397 U.S. 436, 443-444.) Here, with the acquittals, the jury rejected the identification of appellant as the man who committed the murder and attempted robbery and kidnap with a firearm and the court could not relitigate the question of appellant’s presence with a gun at the crime scene.