UC Law Journal


Should an administrative adjudication by an agency not afforded judicial powers under the California Constitution be accorded preclusive effect in a related judicial proceeding? This Article suggests there should be no such effect, or that the legislature should create specific rules to govern its application. If neither, the author suggests that the legislature should simply limit its reach to less serious cases. The author critically examines a decision of the California Supreme Court allowing broad use of administrative collateral estoppel, a felony prosecution barred by the outcome of a welfare "fair hearing," and concludes it was wrongly decided and misapplied or misunderstood much of the precedent and legal literature on point. Backing the discussion is a tour of virtually the entire field of issue preclusion, from double jeopardy to full faith and credit, "law of the case," res judicata, collateral estoppel, and section 654 of the California Penal Code. The Article exposes the courts' difficulties in identifying them and the problems encountered in their application. It warns that some of these devices, all of which are designed to put a finality to litigation, can pose a dangerous trap for the unwary practitioner representing a client in parallel or successive administrative and judicial proceedings.

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