July 18, 2019

Archives for October 27, 2015

Colorado Court of Appeals: Insanity Defense Applies At the Time of Commission of the Act

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Eastwood on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity—Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds—Attempted Murder—Assault—Child Abuse Resulting in Injury.

Defendant took a loaded rifle to his former middle school, where he shot and injured two students. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity on 10 of 11 counts, but guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds.

On appeal, defendant contended that the evidence was not sufficient for a jury to conclude that he was sane when he unlawfully possessed a weapon on school grounds. Whereas the charged crimes of attempted murder, assault, and child abuse resulting in injury were limited to the few seconds in which defendant fired his rifle, the weapon possession charge spanned a longer time period. The jury could have viewed the evidence as demonstrating that, before the shooting, defendant was able to rationally interact with the clerk at the sporting goods store, the restaurant employee, and staff members and children at the school.

Further, some of the experts’ testimony supported the conclusion that although defendant was insane when he fired the shots at the children, he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at other times that day. Taken together, the lay person and expert testimony was sufficient for the jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was sane when he arrived at the school with a rifle, even if the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was sane when he actually fired the shots later that afternoon. The judgment, sentence, and order were affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Evidence of Flight Admissible as Res Gestae, Not Other Bad Act Evidence

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Gee on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

Evidence of Flight—CRE 404(b)—CRE 401—Habitual Criminal—Extended Proportionality Review—Motion for New Trial.

Gee, Wilson, and Ray went to the victim’s apartment with the intent to rob him. The victim was shot five times. When Gee and three others in his vehicle were located, the police retrieved evidence of the crime in the vehicle. Gee was convicted of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree burglary as a crime of violence, and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Shortly after sentencing, he filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied.

On appeal, Gee contended that the trial court erred in admitting evidence that he fled to Michigan while awaiting trial. Gee asserted that this evidence was subject to CRE 404(b) as evidence that he knowingly violated a bail bond conditions or knowingly failed to appear for trial or other proceedings, and that the prosecution failed to provide pretrial notice of its intent to introduce the evidence. However, evidence of Gee’s flight was relevant under CRE 401 because it was res gestaeevidence, relevant to show consciousness of guilt, and therefore it was not subject to CRE 404(b).

Gee also contended that the trial court erred in adjudging him a habitual criminal. Although Gee was a juvenile when he committed the prior offense of conspiracy, he pleaded guilty as an adult and was convicted within 10 years of the charged offense, which satisfied the habitual criminal statute. Therefore, the conspiracy conviction qualified as a predicate offense.

Gee further argued that the trial court erred in denying his request for an extended proportionality review of his sentence. Because none of the imposed sentences raised an inference of gross disproportionality, the trial court did not err in denying Gee’s request.

Finally, Gee argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial. As grounds, Gee stated that both Wilson and Ray had recently made statements that exculpated him. However, new testimony by a co-defendant is not newly discovered evidence, and even if it was found to be newly discovered evidence, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that this evidence probably would not result in an acquittal on retrial due to the overwhelming evidence against Gee. The judgment, sentence, and order were affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Mistake in Jury Instruction Resulted in Constructive Amendment of Charge

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Riley on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

Attempt to Influence a Public Servant—Tampering With Physical Evidence—Second-Degree Forgery—Jury Instructions—Constructive Amendment of Information—Jury Deliberations—Audio Recording.

The People charged defendant with third-degree assault and harassment for allegedly attacking his ex-wife. After the charges were filed, defendant gave his attorney a receipt from a hotel that purportedly showed that defendant was not in Colorado on the dates of the charged offenses. Because the receipt contained fraudulent information based on defendant’s alterations of it, the People charged defendant with attempt to influence a public servant, tampering with physical evidence, and second-degree forgery.

On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury on the uncharged offense of felony forgery rather than the charged offense of second-degree forgery (a misdemeanor). The trial court’s instruction constituted a constructive amendment of the information because it changed an essential element of the charged offense and allowed the jury to convict defendant of an uncharged crime. Further, second-degree forgery is not a lesser included offense of felony forgery. Because it is constitutionally prohibited to convict a defendant of a charge not contained in the information, defendant’s conviction for second-degree forgery was reversed.

Defendant also argued that because the trial court did not provide the jury with instructions defining the terms “attempt” and “official proceeding,” his convictions for attempt to influence a public servant and tampering with physical evidence must be reversed. The Court of Appeals disagreed. Defendant cited no authority for the proposition that the term “attempt” in CRS § 18-8-306 should be defined by reference to the entirely separate criminal attempt statute. In addition, although “official proceeding” is defined in the statute, any error was harmless because defendant failed to show that this error contributed to his conviction for tampering with physical evidence.

Defendant further argued that the trial court erred in allowing jurors unfettered access to an audio recording between the prosecutor and defendant’s ex-wife about a conversation she had with defendant. When defendant’s ex-wife testified at trial, she denied everything she had initially told the police about the attack and all the statements she had made during the recorded interview with the prosecutor. The audio recording of the interview was admitted as prior inconsistent statements, and the recording was played for the jury during her testimony. Although the trial court failed to exercise its discretion with respect to the jury’s access to the recording during deliberations, such failure did not substantially influence the verdict or affect the fairness of the trial such that reversal of defendant’s convictions was required.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Timiann Alanna Aguilar of Castle Pines Appointed to Eighteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission

On Monday, October 26, 2015, the governor’s office announced the appointment of Timiann Alanna Aguilar of Castle Pines to the Eighteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission. Ms. Aguilar was appointed as a non-attorney and a Democrat from Douglas County to serve a term expiring December 31, 2020.

Each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts has a judicial nominating commission to select and nominate judicial applicants for appointment to the bench. The judicial nominating commissions consist of four non-attorneys and three attorneys, no more than four of whom can be from the same political party and of whom at least one member must be from each county in the judicial district. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission consists of an attorney and a non-attorney from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts plus one at-large member.


Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/26/2015

On Monday, October 26, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and three unpublished opinions.

United States v. Delgado

United States v. Garcia-Jimenez

Gurley v. Clark

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.