April 22, 2019

Archives for December 9, 2013

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Liberty Interest Violation for Juvenile Tried Under Former Direct File Statute

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Perez-Hernandez on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

Juvenile—Burglary—Theft—Direct File Statute—Jurisdiction—Information—Unanimous Verdict Instruction.

Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of burglary, theft, conspiracy, and possession of burglary tools. The judgment was affirmed.

The district attorney filed a delinquency petition in juvenile court against defendant, who was 17 years old. She later filed an information in district court, and the juvenile court dismissed the delinquency petition thereafter.

On appeal, defendant contended that the former direct file statute is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to him because it subjected him to adult criminal prosecution without notice and an opportunity to be heard, in violation of his state and federal rights to due process. Under the former direct file statute, the General Assembly established circumstances in which juvenile defendants did not have a liberty interest in being tried as juveniles. Accordingly, the former jurisdictional and direct file statutes did not vest defendant with a liberty interest in being tried as a juvenile. Therefore, due process did not require that defendant be notified and given an opportunity to be heard before the district attorney direct filed in district court.

Defendant also argued that the district court did not have jurisdiction because the information did not allege the basis on which defendant’s juvenile case was “triable” in district court. The information was sufficient to enable it to be understood that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of the Arapahoe County District Court. The information was not required to also allege that the offense was triable in the district court. Furthermore, the record demonstrates that the district court had jurisdiction based on defendant’s prior record.

Defendant contended that the district court erred when it did not require the prosecution to elect which act supported the charge of possession of burglary tools and did not give a unanimity instruction. Defendant was charged with possession of burglary tools on one occasion related to one burglary. The evidence included items that were in defendant’s possession during this single transaction. The prosecution is not required to specify which acts serve as the basis for the offense when the acts occurred in a single transaction. Similarly, a unanimity instruction is not required when a defendant is charged with a crime encompassing incidents occurring in a single transaction. Accordingly, neither an election nor a unanimity instruction was required here.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Court’s Determination that Y-STR Method of DNA Testing Reliable Affirmed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Tunis on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

Sexual Assault—Burglary—Reliability of DNA Evidence—First Impression—Expert Testimony—Jury—Sexually Violent Predator.

Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of sexual assault and second-degree burglary. The judgment was affirmed and the sentence was vacated in part.

Defendant challenged, as an issue of first impression in Colorado, the reliability of certain DNA evidence—specifically, the Y Chromosome-Short Tandem Repeat(Y-STR) analysis—and argued that the trial court erred by admitting it. The court acted within its discretion by determining that the scientific principles underlying the use of the Y-STR analysis, which only examines DNA types on the Y chromosome, were reliable. The statistical methods generally have been accepted by other laboratories, similar statistical methods have been used in other fields, and other jurisdictions have admitted similar evidence as reliable. In addition, the evidence was properly admitted through expert testimony.

Defendant also contended that the court erred by releasing a juror who repeatedly fell asleep and replacing him with an alternate juror. Defendant failed to prove bias in the replacement, so the trial court was well within its discretion to dismiss the sleeping juror and to replace him with the alternate juror.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari and remanded this case to the Court of Appeals to determine whether defendant is a sexually violent predator based on the criterion that he “promoted a relationship primarily for the purpose of sexual victimization.” Defendant’s actions of delivering a baby blanket to the victim a couple months before the assault at the request of his grandmother and asking the bartender the night of the assault if victim’s husband was home did not constitute “promoting a relationship primarily for the purpose of sexual victimization.” Therefore, the sexually violent predator portion of defendant’s sentence was vacated.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Improperly Denied Challenges to Potential Jurors Based on Silence During Rehabilitation

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Clemens on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

Assault—Jury—Challenge for Cause—Apparent Authority Doctrine—Warrant.

Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of second-degree assault of a female victim and third-degree assault of a male bystander. The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s challenges for cause to three prospective jurors. The initial statements by the three jurors that they would hold it against defendant if he did not testify established sufficient grounds to challenge them for cause. The trial court responded to the jurors’ statements with a lengthy admonishment and then asked the entire venire whether it could apply the law as explained. The three jurors remained silent. Because a juror’s silence following a question or questions to the entire panel does not constitute sufficient rehabilitation, the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s challenges for cause.

Defendant also contended that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Without obtaining a warrant, the officers immediately and forcefully entered defendant’s house, which he shared with the female victim. However, there was sufficient evidence admitted at the suppression hearing supporting the trial court’s finding that the officers reasonably believed the female victim had authority to consent to the entry. Under the apparent authority doctrine, the officers properly entered defendant’s house without a warrant. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to suppress.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 12/9/13

On Monday, December 9, 2013, the Colorado Supreme Court issued three published opinions.

People v. Ramadon

People v. Zadran

People v. Roggow

Summaries for these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 12/9/13

On Monday, December 9, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

Hagos v. Werholtz

Brotherhood of Locomotive v. BNSF Railway Co.

United States v. McBrayer

United States v. Thiel

Case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 12/6/13

On Friday, December 4, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and six unpublished opinions.

Cross Continent Development v. Town of Akron

Rosales-Rodriguez v. Holder

Rogers v. Alezopulos

Krchmar v. Colvin

Sherpa v. Holder

United States v. Forste

Case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 12/5/13

On Thursday, December 5, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

In re: Gary Lee Bryan

Tadlock v. LaHood

Case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.