January 16, 2018

Colorado Supreme Court: Special Circumstances Are Required to Disqualify District Attorney’s Office

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Epps on Monday, December 18, 2017.

Disqualification—Request for Disqualification—Special Circumstances.

In this interlocutory appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court reviewed the district court’s order disqualifying the District Attorney’s Office for the Fifth Judicial District from re-prosecuting defendant’s case after a mistrial. The district court issued its order after defendant had endorsed the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case as a witness for the retrial. Defendant proposed calling the deputy district attorney to testify regarding a courtroom altercation between defendant and the alleged victim’s husband after the district court declared the mistrial.

The court reversed the district court’s order. In disqualifying the District Attorney’s Office, the district court relied on its erroneous understanding that the People had not objected to the disqualification. Moreover, the court concluded that the deputy district attorney’s proffered testimony would not be of sufficient consequence to deny defendant a fair trial. Accordingly, this case lacks the special circumstances required by C.R.S. § 20-1-107(2) to justify the district attorney’s disqualification, and therefore the district court abused its discretion in entering the disqualification order.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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