Clark v. StateAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting partial summary judgment on Donald Clark's legal malpractice claim, holding that Clark may not use his prior successful ineffective assistance of counsel claims to establish preclusively the breach elements of his malpractice claims.
Clark, who was represented at his criminal trial by a state public defender, was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse. Clark filed a postconviction relief (PCR) action seeking a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The PCR court concluded that Clark was entitled to a new trial, and the charges against Clark were eventually dismissed. Clark then brought this malpractice action against the State. In his motion for partial summary judgment, Clark asserted that the breach-of-duty element of his malpractice claim was conclusively established by the ruling of the PCR court under the doctrine of issue preclusion. The district court agreed and granted partial summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State as a defendant in the malpractice action was not the same party or in privity with a party in the PCR action; and (2) therefore, the elements of issue preclusion were not met.