May 25, 2016

Colorado Court of Appeals: Reversal Required if Alternate Juror Present During Deliberations

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Riley on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

D.M. saw a man masturbating in the alley behind her house. She saw him again in a different location when she went to pick up her daughter from preschool, and stopped at the Weld County Sheriff’s Office to report the incident. When she returned home, he was still masturbating outside her house, so she called 911. Defendant was arrested and put in the back of the patrol car with handcuffs fastened in front of him. While transporting him, the deputy heard the sound of clanking metal and pulled over. She lifted up defendant’s shirt and saw flesh in the open V in the crotch of his pants.

Defendant was charged with and convicted of indecent exposure (third or subsequent offense) and two counts of public indecency. He appealed, asserting numerous contentions of error. The court of appeals first found that by requesting the lesser non-included offense of public indecency, defense counsel invited error and could not complain that the evidence was insufficient to support the charge. The court of appeals found that defense counsel’s strategic request precluded a contrary argument on appeal.

Next, defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the definition of “public place.” The court of appeals found that defense counsel waived any objection by agreeing to the jury instructions. The court also disagreed with defendant’s argument that the prosecutor committed misconduct by referring to the victim’s honesty. The court did not find the prosecutor’s remarks improper.

Defendant next contended that the alternate juror was present for deliberations and therefore he was entitled to a new trial. The court of appeals found the record inconclusive as to whether the alternate was present during deliberations, and remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the alternate was present. If the alternate was present, the court of appeals instructed the trial court to vacate the convictions and hold a new trial. If the alternate was not present, there was no error.

Bills Regarding Residential Drug Treatment for Probationers, Enhancing Cybersecurity, and More Signed

On Friday, May 20, 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed seven bills into law. To date, he has signed 199 bills this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Friday include a bill to extend the transitional jobs program, a bill to allow persons on probation for any offense to engage in residential drug treatment, and a bill to increase state cybersecurity. The bills signed Friday are summarized here.

  • HB 16-1097 – Concerning Regulation of Medicaid Nonemergency Transportation Providers, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation, by Reps. Don Coram & Dominick Moreno and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill allows providers of non-emergency transportation to Medicaid clients to operate under a limited regulation permit from the Public Utilities Commission.
  • HB 16-1197 – Concerning a Requirement that State Agencies Implement a Program to Streamline the Granting of Occupational Credentials to Veterans Based on Military Training, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Terri Carver & Jovan Melton and Sens. Nancy Todd & Larry Crowder. The bill requires each state agency that certifies, licenses, or registers an occupation to publish a summary of pathways available to military veterans by evaluating the extent to which military training meets state requirements, identifying reciprocity mechanisms in other states, and determining if occupational examinations are available that authorize a veteran to practice; consult with community colleges and other post-secondary education institutions about courses or programs that fill the gap between military and civilian occupational training, and refresher courses for lapsed occupational training; and consider adopting a national credentialing examination.
  • HB 16-1267 – Concerning the “Colorado Veterans’ Service-to-Career Pilot Program”, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating a Grant Program Through the Department of Labor and Employment to Aid Work Force Centers in Supporting Veterans and their Spouses Seeking New Employment and Careers, and Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Pete Lee & Rhonda Fields and Sens. Laura Woods & Morgan Carroll. The bill creates the Colorado Veterans’ Service-to-Career Pilot Program. Through CDLE and in partnership with nonprofit agencies, workforce centers throughout the state may apply for grants to develop and expand career services for veterans, spouses, and eligible participants. Eligible participants include a veteran’s dependent child under age 27 and a veteran’s caregiver over age 18.
  • HB 16-1278 – Concerning Residential Drug Treatment for Persons on Probation, by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. John Cooke. The bill allows the court to require a defendant to participate in drug treatment when sentenced to probation for any offense, rather than just drug offenses.
  • HB 16-1288 – Concerning the Creation of an Industry Infrastructure Grant Program Within the State Work Force Development Council, by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Cole Wist and Sens. Jack Tate & Michael Merrifield. The bill creates the Industry Infrastructure Grant Program within the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC). The purpose of the program is for the CWDC to partner with eligible nonprofit entities to develop industry competency standards to support businesses in their implementation of work site training programs.
  • HB 16-1290 – Concerning an Extension of the Transitional Jobs Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Sens. Andy Kerr & Owen Hill. The bill extends the sunset of the transitional jobs program until June 30, 2022, and requires the Department of Human Services to stop offering transitional jobs after December 31, 2021.
  • HB 16-1453 – Concerning Measures to Enhance Cybersecurity, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill creates the Colorado Cybersecurity Council in the Department of Public Safety, which is to operate as a steering group to develop cybersecurity policy guidance for the Governor; develop comprehensive goals, requirements, initiatives, and milestones; and to coordinate with the General Assembly and the Judicial Department regarding cybersecurity.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2016 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Confrontation Rights Violated when Defendant Not Allowed to Ask Victim About Impairment

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Dunham on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

The victim and his friend were involved in a confrontation in an apartment complex parking lot in the early morning hours of July 8, 2012. At some point, Defendant pointed a gun at the victim and his friend. The confrontation ended when Defendant pointed his gun into the air and fired. After leaving the parking lot, the victim was shot several times at a nearby intersection. The only witnesses besides Victim and Defendant were a husband and wife who saw a man running from the scene of the shooting but could not identify the shooter.

Defendant was charged with attempted first degree murder after deliberation, attempted second degree murder, first degree assault, and a crime of violence sentence enhancer. At trial, defense counsel sought to admit evidence that Victim had consumed methamphetamine the night of the shooting as res gestae evidence under CRE 404(b). The issue arose several times during trial and each time the trial court denied the defense’s request. Defendant was acquitted of the first degree murder charge but convicted on the other charges and sentence enhancer. He appealed, contending the trial court committed constitutional error by denying his requests to question the victim about his methamphetamine use.

The Colorado Court of Appeals found that the trial court erred in finding the evidence was insufficient to allow the jury to consider the matter, and further found that CRE 104(a) governed the relevance of the evidence. The court of appeals found that the evidence was sufficient to allow a jury to consider the statements made by Victim to police and hospital staff regarding his methamphetamine use. The court further found that the error was constitutional because Defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were violated.

The court reversed and remanded for a new trial on the charges on which Defendant was convicted.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Amendment of Restitution Award Not “Ministerial” Because it Affects Sentence

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. McLain on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of theft and was sentenced to five years in community corrections. The prosecution requested restitution in the amount of $1,000 for the victim and $2,852.98 for the victim’s insurance company, to which the defendant did not object. The court granted the prosecution’s restitution request. Ten months later, the prosecution filed a Crim. P. 36 amended motion to impose restitution, maintaining she had made a clerical error and had neglected to request the $8,159.91 in losses sustained by the victim. The court granted the prosecution’s motion without waiting for a response from defendant. Five days later, Defendant filed an objection to the prosecutor’s request for additional restitution, arguing the request was untimely under the restitution statute and Crim. P. 36 did not apply. After a short hearing, the court determined it could correct the prosecution’s “ministerial error” and amended the restitution order.

On appeal, Defendant argued the court could not amend a final order of restitution to increase his obligation. The court of appeals agreed. The court noted that restitution is part of a sentence, and once a sentence is imposed and the defendant begins serving it, an increase in restitution violates the prohibition against double jeopardy. Although the prosecution argued that it had reserved the right to increase the restitution amount, the court of appeals disagreed, finding instead that the prosecution had proposed a concrete figure without any reservation and the figure was accepted by the district court. The court of appeals further found that Crim. P. 36 could not be applied in this case since the restitution increase amended the sentence itself.

The court vacated the judgment and remanded with directions to reinstate the original restitution award.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Has No Right to Access Witness’s Competency Evaluation

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Zapata on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Defendant’s ex-girlfriend claimed the owner of the convenience store at which she worked had sexually harassed her, including grabbing her crotch, buttocks, and breasts. Defendant and his friend of six months, Murillo, went to the convenience store late one night, and Murillo quickly walked behind the counter and stabbed the owner’s son with a knife. A high-quality surveillance video showed the ensuing struggle, with Defendant watching from the other side of the counter. When the owner’s son began hitting Murillo on the head with a hammer, he pleaded with Defendant for help, and Defendant turned and ran.

Defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and first degree assault. Murillo, who suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the incident, was charged separately. He pleaded guilty in his case and testified at Defendant’s trial, remarking that he was testifying against Defendant because Defendant had left him at the store to die. The jury found Defendant guilty of attempted second degree murder and first degree assault.

He appealed, contending the district court erred by not requiring the prosecution to disclose statements Murillo made during competency evaluations in his separate trial and by admitting res gestae evidence of defendant’s controlling and threatening behavior with his ex-girlfriend. The court of appeals found no error. As to the competency evaluations, the district court ruled that Defendant was not entitled to them as a matter of law, and the court of appeals agreed. The court noted that Murillo had a valid privilege that he did not waive. The court further found that Defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights did not trump Murillo’s privilege.

The court of appeals also found that if there was error in admitting the res gestae evidence regarding Defendant’s controlling behavior, it was harmless. The court noted that even without the res gestae evidence, the prosecution’s evidence in the case was strong and the defense theory was weak, therefore even if the evidence was erroneously admitted, any error was harmless.

The judgment of conviction was affirmed.

Bills Concerning Depositions for At-Risk Persons, Immunity for Reported Overdoses, and More Signed

On Thursday, May 19, 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed six bills into law. To date, he has signed 192 bills this legislative session. The bills signed Thursday include a bill to allow depositions of at-risk persons in criminal trials in which the at risk persons may not be available to testify, a bill repealing certain mandatory terms of incarceration, and more. The bills signed Thursday are summarized here.

  • HB 16-1027 – Concerning Depositions in Criminal Cases in Which an At-Risk Person May Not Be Available for Trial, by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sens. Nancy Todd & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill expands and streamlines the allowable use of recorded depositions for at-risk elders. Under the bill, upon receipt of a motion the court must schedule a recorded deposition within 14 days without further findings if the victim is an at-risk elder, defined as any person 70 years of age or older; however, the bill allows the defense to challenge the motion for recorded depositions of other at-risk adults.
  • HB 16-1227 – Concerning Exemptions from Child Support Enforcement Requirements as a Condition of Receipt of Child Care Assistance Under the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Daniel Kagan & Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Owen Hill & Larry Crowder. The bill specifies that a teen parent is not required to submit an application for child support establishment as a condition of receiving child care assistance. However, the county can require the parent to submit an application for child support establishment in order to receive child care assistance once they no longer qualify as a teen parent.
  • HB 16-1302 – Concerning the Alignment of the Colorado Statutes with the Federal “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” Through the “Colorado Career Advancement Act,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Brian DelGrosso and Sen. Linda Newell. The bill changes the title of the “Colorado Workforce Investment Act” to the “Colorado Career Advancement Act.” It also clarifies the roles of specific entities in workforce development programs and removes statutory requirements made inapplicable by the federal act.
  • HB 16-1390 – Concerning Immunity for Certain Persons who Are Involved with a Reported Overdose Event, by Rep. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill provides immunity from arrest for underage persons reporting alcohol or marijuana overdoses and extends immunity from arrest and prosecution to the underage person requiring medical assistance.
  • SB 16-072 – Concerning an Increase in the Maximum Total Amount of Annual Lease Payments Authorized for Lease-Purchase Agreements Entered into Under the “Building Excellent Schools Today Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Andy Kerr and Reps. Alec Garnett & Jim Wilson. Currently under the Building Excellent Schools Today Act (BEST), the state may enter into lease-purchase agreements for public school facility capital construction projects, subject to the limitation that the maximum total annual amount of lease payments payable under these agreements does not exceed $80 million in a fiscal year. This bill establishes incremental caps on these lease payments.
  • SB 16-102 Concerning the Elimination of Mandatory Sentences to Incarceration for Certain Crimes, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation, by Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Dominick Moreno. The bill  removes the mandatory term of incarceration that must accompany convictions of certain types of second degree assault or violations of bail bond conditions.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2016 legislative decisions, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Article III “In Custody” Requirement Treats Consecutive Sentences as One Continuous Stream

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hagos v. Raemisch on Tuesday, December 29, 2015.

Abraham Hagos is incarcerated in Colorado state prison for multiple convictions stemming from two prosecutions. In the first case, he was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and two counts of retaliation against a witness (the murder case). In the second, he was convicted of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, felony menacing, and conspiracy (the kidnapping case). He is serving two consecutive life sentences, one from each case. Hagos appealed his convictions in the kidnapping case, which were affirmed on direct appeal by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The Colorado and United States supreme courts denied certiorari. Hagos then sought state post-conviction relief, which was denied by the district court, court of appeals, and supreme court. He then filed a federal § 2254 petition, which the district court dismissed, concluding it did not satisfy the Article III case or controversy requirement. The district court issued a COA on this issue.

Hagos also appealed his convictions in the murder case. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed on direct appeal, and the Colorado and United States supreme courts again denied certiorari. Hagos filed a § 2254 petition in the murder case, which the district court denied. The Tenth Circuit dismissed the matter after denying Hagos’ request for a COA. Hagos then filed a post-conviction motion in state court, which is still pending.

Hagos’ § 2254 petition was pending in the Tenth Circuit when he filed his § 2254 petition in the kidnapping case. The district court sua sponte ordered Hagos to show cause why the kidnapping case proceedings should not be stayed pending the outcome of the murder case proceedings. The court evaluated the “in custody” requirement for habeas relief and decided that even if it invalidated the kidnapping convictions, Hagos would remain incarcerated for life due to the murder convictions. The district court concluded that if granting habeas relief in Hagos’ kidnapping case would not reduce his confinement, the Article III case or controversy requirement was not satisfied. The district court disagreed with Hagos’ arguments against the stay and enforced it during the pendency of the proceedings in the murder case. After the Tenth Circuit dismissed Hagos’ petition and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari, the district court dismissed Hagos’ § 2254 petition in the kidnapping case for the same reasons it outlined in its stay order.

The Tenth Circuit conducted a de novo review of the district court’s dismissal of Hagos’ § 2254 petition. The Tenth Circuit first noted that Hagos is “in custody” for Article III purposes because his two life sentences run consecutively, following Supreme Court precedent that explains that consecutive sentences are to be treated as a continuous stream. The Tenth Circuit found the district court’s reliance on a different case misplaced, since that ruling only affected expired concurrent sentences. The Tenth Circuit further explained that Hagos’ petition satisfied the case or controversy requirement because even though providing habeas relief in the kidnapping case would not affect the duration of his sentence, it could affect his prisoner level and availability of certain prison programs.

The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded for consideration of Hagos’ § 2254 petition.

Colorado Supreme Court: Privilege Against Self-Incrimination Precludes Revocation of Probation

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Roberson on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Fifth Amendment—Probation Revocation.

The Supreme Court concluded that on the facts presented here, defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination precluded the district court from revoking his sex offender intensive supervision probation based on his refusal to answer a polygraph examiner’s question regarding his use or viewing of child pornography while he was on probation. On the record before the Court, however, the Court was unable to determine whether defendant’s privilege against self-incrimination precluded the district court from revoking defendant’s probation based on his refusal to answer questions concerning any post-trial sexual fantasies involving minors that he might have had within the six months immediately preceding the polygraph examination. Accordingly, the Court made its rule to show cause absolute and remanded the case to the district court with directions that the court conduct further proceedings as more fully set forth in this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Total Refusal of Sex Offender Treatment Based on Fifth Amendment is Prohibited

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Ruch on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Fifth Amendment—Probation Revocation.

This case required the Supreme Court to determine whether the trial court properly revoked defendant’s probation for, among other things, refusing to enroll or participate in sex offender treatment based on his concern that in the course of such treatment, he would have been compelled to incriminate himself in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Court perceived no Fifth Amendment violation here, where the trial court revoked defendant’s probation based on his total refusal to attend treatment. In these circumstances, defendant’s purported invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights was premature and amounted to a prohibited blanket assertion of the privilege. Accordingly, the Court held that the trial court properly revoked Ruch’s probation based on his refusal to attend treatment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Non-Disclosure of Victim’s Juvenile Adjudication Did Not Render Plea Ineffective

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Corson on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Guilty Pleas—Voluntariness—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Crim. P. 16.

Respondent Corson pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child, position of trust. Corson sought to overturn his conviction because the prosecutor, who had previously obtained a juvenile adjudication against the victim for falsely reporting a sexual assault in another case, did not disclose the victim’s prior false-reporting adjudication. The Supreme Court held that the prosecution’s non-disclosure did not render Corson’s guilty plea involuntary or his plea counsel ineffective. The Court also held that juvenile adjudications are not criminal convictions and therefore are not subject to automatic disclosure under Crim. P. 16(I)(a)(1)(V).

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: District Court Judgment Not Final Where Petition for Rehearing Timely Filed

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Penn on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Petitions for Rehearing in the District Court—C.A.R. 52—Opinion Evidence—Comment on Witness’s Credibility.

The Supreme Court held that a party may file a petition for rehearing of a district court’s review of a county court judgment within 14 days of the district court’s ruling, unless that time is shortened or extended by order or unless the district court by express order disallows the filing of the petition. Where a petition for rehearing is timely filed in the district court, the district court judgment does not become final for purposes of the 42-day filing period for a writ of certiorari under C.A.R. 52(a) until the district court denies the petition for rehearing. Because the People filed their petition for writ of certiorari within this time frame, it was timely. The Supreme Court further held that it was not plain error for the trial court to admit an officer’s testimony that he had “reason to arrest” defendant for a crime that had been committed. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case for reinstatement of the judgment of conviction.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Defendant’s Testimony of Coercion Tells Only Half the Story so Polygraph Evidence Admissible in Rebuttal

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Tenorio on Tuesday, December 29, 2015.

Daniel Tenorio’s 16-year-old niece reported that he had touched her intimately, so the Bureau of Indian Affairs began investigating him. Special Agent Travis LeBeaux interviewed the niece and other family members about the abuse, and later interviewed Tenorio, who denied the allegations. Agent LeBeaux asked Tenorio to take a polygraph, and he agreed, stating he had nothing to hide. Tenorio read and signed the consent, and FBI Agent Jennifer Sullivan administered the polygraph. She suspected he was untruthful and followed up with confrontational questions. Tenorio eventually confessed and wrote an apology letter to the victim, which included such statements as “I should not have grabbed her breast it was wrong,” and “I should not have grabbed her ass.” He was indicted on two counts of knowingly engaging in sexual contact.

Tenorio moved to suppress his confession as involuntary, but the district court denied his motion. Prior to trial, the government filed a motion in limine seeking to introduce evidence of the polygraph. Tenorio responded by moving to prevent admission of the test and results. The district court reserved a final ruling on the motion, warning that testimony regarding the polygraph would likely be overly prejudicial but noting it may revisit the issue depending on Tenorio’s testimony. During trial, Tenorio’s attorney questioned him about the apology letter, and Tenorio repeatedly claimed he only wrote down what the FBI agent told him to write. He also claimed he could not understand why the agent didn’t believe him. In response to the testimony, the government requested to be allowed to question Tenorio about taking and failing the polygraph. The district court found that Tenorio had opened the door to such questioning and allowed limited questioning regarding the voluntariness of the test. The court gave a limiting instruction at the close of the trial. Tenorio was convicted on both counts and appealed.

Tenorio contended the district court erred by admitting prejudicial evidence in violation of FRE 403 because the court did not weigh the prejudicial effect of the evidence. The Tenth Circuit disagreed. The Tenth Circuit relayed the history of the admissibility of polygraph evidence, remarking that United States v. Hall, 805 F.2d 1410 (10th Cir. 1986), set forth a per se rule that polygraphs are not admissible to show truthfulness. The Tenth Circuit noted the evolution of the rule following Daubert, but found that the rule does not apply when polygraphs are not admitted as evidence of truthfulness. The Tenth Circuit held in Hall and has continued to hold that when a defendant opens the door, evidence regarding polygraphs can be admitted as rebuttal evidence: “When a defendant says he was coerced but only tells half the story, rebuttal evidence necessarily impacts the credibility of that defendant’s testimony.” In this case, Tenorio opened the door to the polygraph questioning by repeatedly expressing confusion as to why the FBI agent did not believe him. The government was allowed to admit the polygraph evidence to provide balance to Tenorio’s testimony. The Tenth Circuit found that the district court carefully considered the prejudicial effect of the evidence and limited the potential prejudice by allowing only testimony regarding the fact of the polygraph and not the results, and by giving a similar limiting instruction.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court.