The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in F.M. v. People on November 10, 2011.
Criminal Records—Claim Preclusion.
F.M. appealed the order dismissing his second action to seal the same arrest and criminal records that had been the subject of an earlier action by F.M. The order was affirmed.
F.M. was charged with four counts of felony menacing after he mailed an envelope to his supervisor containing flour. When it spilled, a coworker called the police, who summoned a hazmat team. F.M. was acquitted. In 2006, F.M. brought the previous action to seal the arrest and criminal records concerning these charges, based on his acquittal. The prosecution objected. Applying the statutory balancing test, the district court held that the public interest outweighed F.M.’s privacy interest, declined to seal the records, and dismissed the action. F.M. did not appeal. In 2009, F.M. commenced this action, again based on his acquittal, which was dismissed by the court based on claim preclusion.
F.M. contended that the district court erred in holding that this action was barred by claim preclusion. Claim preclusion bars a second action seeking to seal the same arrest and criminal records that had been the subject of an earlier action by the same petitioner. Here, the two actions involved the same parties, the same subject matter, and the same claims for relief and a final judgment was entered in the first action. Therefore, F.M.’s claims were properly barred by claim preclusion.