September 19, 2014

Colorado Supreme Court: Proceedings Not Abated Ab Initio When Defendant Died During Pendency of Appeal

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Griffin on Monday, June 16, 2014.

Criminal Law—Death of Defendant—Abatement.

The Supreme Court granted the People’s petition for writ of certiorari after the court of appeals vacated defendant’s conviction for failure to register as a sex offender. After the court granted certiorari review, but before oral arguments, defendant died. Defense counsel filed a notice of death and motion to dismiss, arguing that because of defendant’s death, the court should dismiss the writ of certiorari and vacate the criminal proceedings ab initio. The Court reviewed additional briefing regarding the proper resolution of the matter in light of the defendant’s death, and heard oral arguments. The Court held that the doctrine of abatement ab initio in Colorado does not apply to cases pending on certiorari review. Accordingly, consistent with the practice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court vacated its order granting the writ of certiorari and dismissed the People’s petition, but did not abate the proceedings ab initio. The court of appeals’ judgment vacating defendant’s conviction stands undisturbed.

Summary and full case available here.

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