October 22, 2014

Colorado Supreme Court: In Disciplinary Proceeding, PDJ Erred in Determining Issue Preclusion

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Matter of Greene on Monday, May 20, 2013.

Attorney Discipline—Claim Preclusion—Identity of Claims—Same Criminal Episode.

The Attorney Regulation Counsel sought review of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s (PDJ) order granting summary judgment in favor of respondent David Jerome Greene. The PDJ found that all of the claims in the complaint for attorney discipline should have been joined and adjudicated along with the claims raised in a previous complaint. Therefore, they were barred according to the doctrine of claim preclusion.

The Supreme Court held that although the doctrine of claim preclusion applies to complaints for attorney discipline, a single claim in that context is analogous to a single “criminal episode” for the purposes of barring sequential prosecutions of the same defendant. Because none of the claims alleged in the instant complaint was identical with any claim that had already been finally adjudicated, according to that standard, the PDJ erred. The Court therefore vacated the order granting summary judgment in favor of Greene and remanded the case for further proceedings on the claims as to which summary judgment was ordered.

Summary and full case available here.

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