July 17, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Limited Admission of Other Bad Act Evidence Unfairly Prejudicial

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Perez v. People on Monday, June 15, 2015.

Prior Bad Acts Evidence—Limiting Instructions—Harmless Error Review.

Defendant sought review of the court of appeals’ decision affirming his sexual assault and kidnapping convictions. The trial court allowed CRE 404(b) evidence for the limited purpose of showing defendant’s intent to commit sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact on a child for the count of enticement of a child. The court of appeals found that the trial court abused its discretion when it allowed the evidence and that the error was not harmless. It then reversed the enticement conviction but affirmed the other two convictions.

The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and vacated defendant’s remaining convictions. When the trial court erred in admitting 404(b) evidence of defendant’s prior bad acts for a single count, the error was not harmless as to the convictions on the two remaining counts because (1) all of the counts for which defendant was convicted included a similar element regarding sexual conduct, and (2) the prosecutor’s statements and arguments urged the jury to consider the 404(b) evidence beyond its limited scope and implied that it was relevant to all counts.

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