June 25, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: DeBella v. People

on June 7, 2010.

Testimonial Evidence — Videotapes — Jury Deliberations — Failure to Exercise Discretion.

The Colorado Supreme Court reviews a court of appeals opinion affirming a trial court’s order, which allowed a jury unfettered access to a videotape of a child sexual assault victim’s interview with a detective and counselor during its deliberations. The court reiterates that, under People v. Frasco, 165 P.3d 701 (Colo. 2007), a trial court has discretionary power to limit a jury’s access to such testimonial evidence during deliberations in order to ensure that juries do not use exhibits in a manner that is unfairly prejudicial to a party. The court concludes that, in this case, the trial court’s failure to exercise its discretion constituted reversible error because the mostly empty record left it with grave doubts as to the error’s effect on the verdict and the fairness of the trial proceedings. As such, the court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment.

Summary and full case also available here.

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