August 22, 2019

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.

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