State v. Johnson
In the 2003 case of State v. Knight, where proceedings before the jury and the court occurred simultaneously, the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected the defendant's claim, brought under the double jeopardy clause of the federal constitution, that the trial court was collaterally estopped from finding guilt as to a criminal possession count because the jury already had found the facts related to that count in his favor. Teejay Johnson appealed from the judgment of the trial court convicting him of criminal possession of a pistol or revolver and finding that he violated the terms of his probation. The defendant claimed that the court was collaterally estopped from finding him guilty on the criminal possession count because the jury found him not guilty of two charges arising from the same underlying facts. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The unpreserved constitutional issue was reviewed under the 1989 Supreme Court case of State v. Golding. But, in accordance with Knight, the defendant failed to demonstrate that a constitutional violation clearly existed and clearly deprived him of a fair trial. The Knight Court noted the principles of collateral estoppel enunciated in the 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case of Ashe v. Swenson that, "the doctrine of collateral estoppel does not apply to the procedurally unique situation in which several criminal charges against the same defendant have been allocated between two triers for current adjudication upon virtually identical evidence." Here, as in Knight, both the jury and court simultaneously were presented with the evidence and arguments of counsel, with the exception of evidence of the defendant's prior conviction and probation status. Both the jury and court deliberated simultaneously. Their decisions were rendered within the same proceeding, with the court's verdict immediately following that of the jury. The defendant was unable to distinguish his case from Knight.