July 17, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Instruction to Jury that It Could Discuss Case Prior to Deliberations was Harmless Error

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Flockhart on Monday, July 1, 2013.

Pre-Deliberation Jury Instruction—Challenges for Cause—Judicial Disqualification.

The Supreme Court held that the trial court erred by giving a pre-deliberation instruction in defendant’s criminal trial, because to do so was not authorized by rule or existing law. The Court found, however, that the erroneous instruction constituted non-constitutional trial error and was harmless. Accordingly, the Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remanded the case to the trial court to reinstate defendant’s convictions. The Court further held that a trial court retains discretion to conduct challenges for cause in open court, and that the trial court did not err by denying defendant’s motion to disqualify the trial judge.

Summary and full case available here.

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