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Name: Wilkinson v. Gingrich
Case #: 13-56952
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/03/2015

Defendant’s acquittal in traffic court case precluded the state from charging him with perjury based on testimony he gave during the proceedings in the traffic case. In traffic court proceedings for a speeding ticket, Wilkinson testified that he was not the driver who was caught speeding. He was acquitted. After discovering new evidence that Wilkinson had lied in traffic court, the state charged him with perjury. He was convicted and appealed. The state courts affirmed. The federal district court granted Wilkinson’s habeas petition, finding the state court unreasonably applied Ashe v. Swenson (1970) 397 U.S. 436 when it concluded the perjury prosecution was not barred by double jeopardy. The state appealed. Held: Affirmed. Under principles of collateral estoppel, an issue of fact that has been determined by a valid and final judgment may not be litigated between the same parties in the future. In Ashe, the Supreme Court imported into the double jeopardy clause the doctrine of criminal collateral estoppel. The analysis has three steps: (1) identify the issues in the two actions to determine whether they are sufficiently similar and material to invoke the doctrine; (2) examine the record in the prior case to determine whether the similar issue was litigated and (3) examine the record in the prior case to determine whether the similar issue was necessarily decided. Applying AEDPA’s standard of review (see 28 U.S.C. §2254(d)(1)), the Ninth Circuit concluded that the state court unreasonably applied Ashe. The issue in the traffic case (whether Wilkinson was the driver) and the issue in the perjury case (whether Wilkinson was telling the truth when he denied being the driver) were sufficiently similar and material for collateral estoppel and double jeopardy to apply. The traffic court judge in the first case necessarily decided that Wilkinson was not the driver, and that he was telling the truth when he stated this.