June 15, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Opened the Door to Hearsay Testimony and Therefore Waived His Confrontation Right

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Rogers on Thursday, November 8, 2012.

Hearsay—Constitutional Right of Confrontation—Waiver.

Defendant appealed his jury conviction for possession of a weapon by a prior offender. The judgment was affirmed.

A man picked up defendant at a local motel. A police officer pulled over the driver for failing to use his signal device when making a turn. The officers on scene discovered defendant had three active warrants and placed him under arrest. Relying on the driver’s statements that defendant threw a gun in the back seat, the People charged defendant with possession of a weapon by a prior offender.

On appeal, defendant contended that his conviction should be reversed because the trial court’s admission of testimonial hearsay statements by the driver, who did not appear at trial, violated his constitutional right of confrontation. Defendant’s counsel introduced the driver’s hearsay statement during the cross-examination of the arresting officer to elicit evidence that the driver knew of the gun and had tried to conceal it. This opened the door to the prosecution’s redirect examination and the admission of statements implicating defendant. Therefore, because defendant opened the door by questioning the officer about the information he received from the driver, defendant waived his right to confrontation.

Summary and full case available here.

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