The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in People v. Munoz-Casteneda on July 5, 2012.
Intent to Distribute a Schedule II Controlled Substance—Possession of Drug Paraphernalia—Fact Witness—Interpreter—Prosecutorial Misconduct.
Defendant appealed from the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of possession with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance (cocaine) and possession of drug paraphernalia. The judgment was affirmed.
Defendant contended that the trial court erred by allowing the detective who interrogated him in Spanish to translate that recorded interrogation during his trial testimony without meeting the requirements for interpreters set forth in CRE 604 and 702. The detective had personal knowledge of the relevant conversation. Therefore, he was a fact witness and was permitted to testify without first being certified as an interpreter.
Defendant also contended that the prosecutor impermissibly introduced the issue of Mexican drug trafficking organizations into the trial through his voir dire questioning of prospective jurors and his direct examination of his expert witness. Although the prosecution’s comments were improper (because this case did not involve drug trafficking organizations or allegations of complicity), the misconduct does not warrant reversal in light of the overwhelming evidence of defendant’s guilt.
Summary and full case available here.