April 26, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Did Not Abuse Discretion by Declining to Reveal Juror’s Contact Information Absent Evidence of Misconduct

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Bohl on Thursday, November 1, 2018.

Criminal Procedure—Jury Contact Information—Jury Misconduct.

A jury convicted Bohl of one count of first degree murder for killing his girlfriend. After the verdict, a deputy district attorney who was not involved in prosecuting the case sent a text message to Mrs. Hillesheim, the wife of the jury foreman. Mrs. Hillesheim and the deputy district attorney knew each other, and the deputy district attorney asked her if Mr. Hillesheim would provide feedback on the trial and the prosecutors’ performance during the case. Mrs. Hillesheim informed the deputy district attorney that Mr. Hillesheim had researched various scientific items that were presented during the trial. Following this communication, the People filed a Notice of Juror Contact. In response, Bohl’s counsel filed a motion for a new trial, and alternatively, Bohl requested that the court hold a hearing on the incident and release the jurors’ contact information. Following a hearing at which the Hillesheims testified, the trial court determined that no jury misconduct had occurred and any extraneous information that Mr. Hillesheim obtained was not relevant to a key issue at trial. Based on the evidence presented, the trial court did not address Bohl’s request for juror information, but denied Bohl’s motion, and later sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request for juror contact information because it deprived him of the opportunity to gather evidence to support his juror misconduct claim. Here, the trial court’s factual and credibility determinations were supported by the record, and given the speculative evidence of juror misconduct, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Bohl access to juror contact information.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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