May 25, 2019

Archives for February 27, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Students and Teachers in Youth Corrections Classroom “Members of the Public” for Purposes of Public Indecency Statute

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of D.C. on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

Juvenile Law—Delinquency—Public Indecency—Members of the Public.

D.C. and E.L. were committed to the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC). During their DYC science class, D.C. exposed one of his testicles to E.L. As a result, D.C. was adjudicated delinquent for committing an act that, if committed by an adult, would constitute public indecency.

On appeal, D.C. argued that insufficient evidence supported the adjudication because the prosecution failed to establish that the DYC classroom in which D.C. exposed his testicle was a “public place” under the public indecency statute.A person commits public indecency by knowingly exposing his genitals to the view of another under circumstances that are likely to cause affront or alarm “in a public place or [in a place] where the conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by members of the public.” Here, other students and a teacher were present when D.C. exposed himself. Therefore, sufficient evidence established that D.C. exposed his genitals in a public place under the indecency statute.

The adjudication was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Admission of Blind Expert Testimony Not Harmless Where Issues Irrelevant to Facts of Case

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Cooper on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

Criminal Law—Evidence—“Blind” Expert Testimony—Relevance—Prejudice—Unanimity.

Cooper and L.K. were in an intimate relationship and lived together. They had a physical altercation that resulted in Cooper being charged with, among other things, third degree assault and harassment. At trial, over Cooper’s repeated objections, the prosecution presented extensive testimony from a “blind” expert witness about the characteristics of domestic violence relationships and the “power and control wheel,” a tool developed purportedly to explain how an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship. A jury convicted Cooper of third degree assault and harassment.

On appeal, Cooper asserted that the trial court erred in admitting the blind expert witness testimony both on reliability and relevance grounds. Expert testimony should be admitted only when the expert’s opinions will help the factfinder. A blind or “cold” expert knows little or nothing about the facts of a particular case, often has not met the victim, and has not performed any forensic or psychological examination of the victim (or the defendant). Here, no evidence presented to the jury proved or suggested that before the charged incident Cooper had assaulted L.K., had physically or non-physically abused L.K., or had exercised improper control over L.K. physically, emotionally, or economically. The only way the jury could have found there was a pattern of abuse was from the testimony of the blind expert, who purportedly knew nothing about the facts of the case. There was no record evidence that related to the vast majority of the blind expert’s opinions, and the trial court abused its discretion in admitting this testimony. This error was not harmless.

Cooper also contended that the trial court erred in not instructing the jury on the requirement of unanimity. Here, the evidence “does not present a reasonable likelihood that jurors may disagree on which acts the defendant committed” regarding the third degree assault charge. Therefore, Cooper was not entitled to a unanimity instruction.
The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 2/26/2019

On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued three published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Spradley v. LeFlore County Detention Ctr

United States v. Stubbs

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