August 21, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Booking Reports Properly Certified, Not Hearsay, and Not Testimonial

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Warrick on October 27, 2011.

Possession of Weapon by Previous Offender—Booking Reports—Mittimus—Authentication—Hearsay—Confrontation Rights—Opinion Testimony—Identification.

Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of possession of a weapon by a previous offender (POWPO) and harassment. The judgment was affirmed.

Defendant contended that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the booking reports and the mittimus, both of which were used by the prosecution to convict defendant of the POWPO charge, because they were not sufficiently authenticated. The booking reports contained a certification from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office that was signed by the custodian of records. This certification was sufficient evidence to authenticate the booking reports as public records under C.R.E. 901(b)(7). Further, the mittimus was self-authenticating under C.R.E. 902(4), because it was certified and signed, and contained the seal of the Arapahoe County District Court. Accordingly, there was no abuse of discretion in admitting these documents over defendant’s objection.

Defendant also contended that the booking reports and the mittimus were hearsay and that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting them under the public records exception. However, the trial court was appropriate in admitting the booking reports and mittimus under C.R.E. 803(8)(A) and (B).

Defendant contended that admission of the booking reports and the mittimus violated his confrontation rights under the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions. The booking reports and mittimus were not created to establish a material fact at any future criminal proceeding. Rather, they were created for routine administrative purposes. Therefore, the booking reports and the mittimus were not testimonial and did not trigger defendant’s confrontation rights.

Defendant contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it permitted the police officer to testify that conspiracy to commit robbery is a class 5 felony and that “F5” stands for class 5 felony. The officer’s testimony that conspiracy to commit a robbery is a class 5 felony “could be reached by any ordinary person” capable of looking up the applicable provision in the Colorado Revised Statutes. Therefore, the police officer’s testimony, even if it was an opinion, was not expert testimony within the meaning of C.R.E. 702.

Defendant further contended that the trial court abused its discretion and committed plain error requiring reversal of his conviction by admitting the police officer’s testimony identifying him from his booking photos. The police officer testified that he had come into contact with defendant during his investigation and stated that he had gotten a good look at him during that period. Therefore, the officer was personally familiar with defendant and did not err in identifying him.

This summary is published here courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer. Other summaries for the Colorado Court of Appeals on October 27, 2011, can be found here.

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