June 18, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Underrepresentation of Asian Americans in Jury Pool Not Constitutionally Significant

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Luong on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

Man Hao Luong was convicted of several crimes based on acts occurring in 2005 and was sentenced to 96 years imprisonment. On direct appeal, the court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, and on remand his sentence was reduced to 64 years. Luong then filed a Crim. P. 35(c) motion for postconviction relief, arguing his counsel was ineffective because he had not investigated the underrepresentation of Asian Americans in the jury pool at Luong’s trial. The postconviction court denied his motion and Luong appealed.

Luong’s original trial took place in Jefferson County, where Asian Americans comprise 2.63% of the population. Of the 100 member jury pool at Luong’s trial, none were Asian American. Luong argued his counsel should have investigated whether jurors of Asian descent were systematically or intentionally underrepresented in his jury as well as other juries in the county. Luong also asserted that the state’s destruction of the master jury list (jury wheel) and jury panel violated his constitutional rights because the destruction prevented him from proving his counsel’s performance prejudiced him. After he filed his appeal but before the court of appeals issued its opinion, the state court administrator informed Luong that the records of the jury wheel and jury panel had been found, and provided a list of the 324 people who reported for jury service on the date of Luong’s trial. Luong moved to remand for reconsideration of that information, but the court of appeals denied his motion.

On appeal, the court of appeals first noted that to establish that the composition of a jury pool is a prima facie violation of the Sixth Amendment, the defendant must prove (1) the excluded group is distinctive, (2) the representation of the group is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community, and (3) the underrepresentation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury selection process. The court of appeals, acknowledging that Asian Americans are a distinctive group, evaluated whether the representation of Asian Americans in the jury pool was fair and reasonable in relation to the population within the community. The court noted that implicit in Luong’s argument was a presumption that his counsel should have known the percentage of Asians in Jefferson County and been surprised that there were not at least two people of Asian descent in the 100-person jury pool. The court initially noted that counsel’s performance was not grossly incompetent and a hearing on the Crim. P. 35 motion was unnecessary. Next, using statistical analyses, the court found no constitutional violation from having a 100-person jury pool with no Asian Americans. Because the population of Asians in Jefferson County was small, the absolute impact of the absence of Asians on the jury pool was insignificant.

The court of appeals affirmed the denial of Luong’s Crim. P. 35 motion for postconviction relief.

 

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Entitled to Hearing Under Crim. P. 35 if Facts Alleged Would Provide Basis for Relief

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Morones-Quinonez on Thursday, November 5, 2015.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Advising of Immigration Consequences.

Defendant was charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count of criminal impersonation after officers conducting a traffic stop discovered a false identification card in her possession. She hired a lawyer whose practice focused on immigration and criminal law to represent her in both the criminal case and the removal proceedings that had been subsequently initiated.

Defendant alleged in her Crim.P. 35(c) motion that she was adamantly opposed to accepting any plea offer that would make her ineligible for relief from deportation. Her lawyer recommended she plead guilty to criminal impersonation, assuring her that she would be “just fine” in immigration court because it was “minor felony” and would not affect her immigration case. Defendant pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation and was later order deported by an immigration law judge. She filed this Crim.P. 35(c) motion, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. She contended that if she had been properly advised, she would have rejected the plea and proceeded to trial. The district court denied the motion without a hearing.

Defendant was entitled to a hearing so long as she asserted facts in her post-conviction motion that, if true, would provide a basis for relief. Applying the two-prong test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the Court of Appeals examined whether defendant showed that (1) counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) a reasonable probability exists that counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced the defendant.

The Court found that defendant had sufficiently pleaded deficient performance by her counsel. The Court disagreed that the district court could find as a matter of law that defendant’s allegation of prejudice was insufficient. It also found that the district court’s advisement did not cure any potential prejudice from the lawyer’s advice. Accordingly, the order was reversed and the case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Retrospective Competency Evaluation Showed Defendant’s Plea Knowing, Intelligent, and Voluntary

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

Retrospective Competency Determination—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.

Defendant gave birth in a public restroom and discarded her newborn son in the trash, where he was later found dead. In exchange for accepting a plea to the child abuse charge, the prosecution dismissed the murder charge and agreed to a sentencing range of between 16 and 40 years in prison. The trial court accepted the agreement and sentenced defendant to 40 years in prison. Almost three years later, defendant filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Crim.P.35(c), seeking to withdraw her plea. The motion was denied.

On appeal, defendant claimed that the post-conviction court erred when it retrospectively determined that she was competent at the time she entered her guilty plea. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that (1) the nature of defendant’s post-conviction claims made it necessary for the post-conviction court to evaluate defendant’s competency at the time of her plea; (2) the court had enough information to make a retrospective competency determination; and (3) the record supported the finding that defendant was competent. The Court also rejected defendant’s argument that her guilty plea was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent, because this claim hinged on defendant’s contention that she was not competent when she entered her plea.

Defendant also argued that the post-conviction court erred when it denied her motion for post-conviction relief on the ground that her plea counsel was ineffective. Defendant’s claim failed because she did not show both deficient performance and prejudice. Counsel’s advice to defendant to abandon her insanity defense in favor of the plea offer, as well as decisions counsel made regarding investigation of the case and defenses, did not fall outside the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. Further, counsel argued effectively on defendant’s behalf at the sentencing hearing. The order was affirmed.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Appeals Court Must Assume Omitted Trial Transcripts Would Support Lower Court’s Order

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Duran on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

Adequate Record on Appeal—Trial Transcripts—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.

Duran was convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault, menacing, stalking, and violation of a protective order. He filed a post-conviction motion, arguing that he had received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The motion was denied without a hearing. Duran then filed a timely notice of appeal but did not include transcripts in the appellate record.

The People argued that because the trial transcripts were not included in the appellate record, the Court of Appeals must assume they would support the trial court’s order and affirm. To prove ineffective assistance of counsel, Duran needed to show that counsel’s performance was deficient and that he was prejudiced by counsel’s errors. In ruling on Duran’s motion, the trial court properly relied on its review of the trial record. Therefore, without an adequate record on appeal, it must be presumed that the court’s order was correct. The trial court’s order rejecting these claims was affirmed.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Error in Denial of Presentence Confinement Credit for Nonresidential Corrections Program

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Pimble on Thursday, August 13, 2015.

Sentence—Presentence Confinement Credit—Nonresidential Community Corrections Program.

Defendant pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance and attempted first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft. The court initially sentenced her to twelve years in community corrections and later reduced this sentence to six years. Her community corrections placement was subsequently terminated. The court then resentenced defendant to six years in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) and granted defendant credit for time served. However, the court did not give credit for her time served in the nonresidential program.

On appeal, defendant contended that she was entitled to presentence confinement credit (PSCC) for time spent in a nonresidential community corrections program, and the court erred by refusing to amend the mittimus to include this as time served. A defendant resentenced to DOC custody is entitled to PSCC for any time served in a residential community corrections facility. However, a defendant must be confined to receive PSCC. Because defendant was not confined in the nonresidential program, she was not entitled to PSCC for this period of time. The order was affirmed.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Counsel Not Ineffective for Failing to Appeal POWPO Conviction to Supreme Court

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Ray on Thursday, July 16, 2015.

Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Certiorari Petition—U.S. Supreme Court—Investigation—Affirmative Defense.

After police officers observed Ray driving his vehicle straight through an intersection while in a left turn lane, exceeding the speed limit, playing loud music, and driving recklessly, they stopped and searched his car, discovering a BB gun and a firearm. Ray was on probation after having been adjudicated a delinquent on controlled substances and motor vehicle theft charges. Ray was charged with and convicted of Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender (POWPO). Ray is on death row after having been convicted of first-degree murder in a separate case, and his POWPO conviction was used as an aggravating factor in determining his death sentence. Ray filed a Crim.P. 35(c) motion for post-conviction relief, which was denied.

On appeal, Ray contended that appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a certiorari petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. Ray had no right to counsel to pursue a petition for certiorari review in the Supreme Court. Further, he did not establish any resulting prejudice from failure to file a petition, because (1) he failed to show that it was likely the petition would be granted, (2) the exclusionary rule would not have precluded suppression of the firearm found in his car, and (3) the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule would have ultimately precluded suppression of the firearm.

Ray also contended that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate whether others had driven his car before the POWPO arrest. Because there was no reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have changed if evidence that others had driven the car had been admitted, the court did not err in determining this claim was raised and resolved on direct appeal.

Finally, Ray contended that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate a potential affirmative defense based on his Second Amendment right to possess firearms for self-defense. However, such a defense was not supported by the evidence and would have conflicted with Ray’s theory of defense that he did not know the firearm was in his car. The order was affirmed.

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

Colorado Supreme Court: Aggravated Range Sentence Supported by Mandatory Sentencing Statute

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

Mandatory Sentencing—Crim.P. 35(a) and (b)—Prosecutorial Appeal—Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act.

Defendant appealed his sentence on his conviction for sexual assault on a child–pattern of abuse, a class 3 felony. The Supreme Court held that (1) when a conviction is for a sex offense that requires sentencing in accordance with the mandatory sentencing statute, the prosecution is not required to prove aggravating circumstances to support a bottom-end sentence in the aggravated range; (2) the prosecution here is authorized to appeal the post-conviction court’s ruling on the defendant’s Crim.P. 35(a) motion because it challenges the legal basis for the range the post-conviction court used to impose the sentence; (3) under Crim.P. 35(a), the illegality of a sentence on one count does not entitle a defendant to resentencing on other counts with legal sentences; and (4) if a sentence is subject to correction on one count, Crim.P. 35(b) authorizes a resentencing court to reconsider and reduce the legal sentences as to all counts after it has corrected the entire sentence. The Court therefore affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment reversing and remanding the case to the post-conviction court to reinstate defendant’s sentence of sixteen years to life on his conviction for sexual assault on a child–pattern of abuse. The Court held that, on remand to the post-conviction court, defendant may seek reconsideration of his sentence under Crim.P. 35(b).

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Entitled to Crim. P. 35 Hearing on Justifiable Excuse or Excusable Neglect in Counsel’s Advice

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Martinez-Huerta on Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Crim.P. 35(c)—Immigration—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Affirmative Advice—Justifiable Excuse—Justifiable Neglect.

In April 2007, defendant, a citizen of Mexico and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, pleaded guilty to vehicular eluding, a class 5 felony. At that time, he also admitted to violating the terms of his deferred judgment and sentence on an unrelated 2006 felony. In July 2007, the court sentenced him in both cases. In August 2013, defendant was placed into removal proceedings pursuant to § 237(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as a noncitizen who, after admission, was convicted of two crimes involving moral turpitude not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct. He was ordered removed from the United States in December 2013. In 2014, defendant filed a Crim.P. 35(c) motion seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, alleged ineffective assistance of plea counsel because his defense attorney assured him that a conviction would not have any immigration consequences. The trial court summarily denied his Crim.P. 35(c) motion as time barred. Defendant appealed.

When a defendant alleges that the untimely filing of a Crim.P. 35(c) motion resulted from a reasonable reliance on plea counsel’s affirmative but erroneous advice about the immigration consequences of the plea, causing the defendant to neglect to pursue timely collateral relief, the defendant is entitled to ahearing on the issue of justifiable excuse or excusable neglect. Therefore, the order was reversed and the case was remanded for a hearing on the merits of defendant’s Crim.P. 35(c) motion.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Ineffective Assistance Claims Improperly Asserted in Crim. P. 33 Motion

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Lopez on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

Assault—Menacing—Obstructing a Peace Officer—Jury Instruction—Attempt—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Crim.P. 33.

Defendant assaulted his wife and broke her clavicle. A uniformed officer found defendant outside the hospital. When the officer attempted to speak to him about his wife’s injuries, defendant became aggressive and threatening toward the officer. A jury convicted defendant of second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, menacing by the use of a deadly weapon, and obstructing a peace officer.

On appeal, defendant contended that the evidence was insufficient to establish that he committed the crime of menacing against the police officer. Evidence showed that defendant made a threat and that he placed or attempted to place the first officer in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by telling her he had a knife and approaching her in an aggressive manner. This was sufficient to support a conviction for misdemeanor and felony menacing.

Defendant contended that the record did not contain sufficient evidence to support the conviction for obstructing a peace officer because the officer had not arrested nor intended to arrest defendant at the time. The obstructing statute is not limited to officers making arrests, and there was sufficient evidence that defendant’s conduct violated the obstructing statute even though the first officer did not arrest him.

Defendant also argued that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury on criminal attempt, even though the prosecution had not charged defendant with attempt. Because defendant was charged with menacing, and menacing includes the element of attempt, the court did not err in instructing the jury on the definition of attempt.

Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a new trial because his trial counsel had been ineffective. Because defendant raised this as a Crim.P. 33 motion instead of a Crim.P. 35(c) motion, the trial court’s decision to deny defendant’s Crim.P. 33 motion without a hearing was reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The Court of Appeals found that the trial court’s rulings were not manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, or unfair because defendant failed to prove prejudice based on any alleged errors. The judgment was affirmed.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Error in Denial of Crim. P. 35(c) Postconviction Relief Motion

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Romero on Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Crim.P. 35(c)—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Fifth Amendment—Sixth Amendment—Right to Counsel—Competency—Prosecutorial Misconduct.

Romero was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting A.S. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Crim.P. 35(c), which was denied without a hearing.

On appeal, Romero contended that attorney F.G. ineffectively assisted him during his police interview when he failed to advise Romero of the consequences of submitting to police interrogation and a polygraph test. Romero’s Fifth Amendment right to counsel had not attached because the police interview was not custodial. Romero’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel had also not attached because Romero had not yet been charged. Accordingly, Romero’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim with regard to F.G.’s pre-indictment representation failed.

Romero contended that F.G. ineffectively assisted him during trial because F.G. visited Romero in jail and improperly advised him. Because F.G. did not represent Romero during any critical stages of the case, did not help him prepare his defense, and did not otherwise appear on his behalf, the constitutional guarantee of effective assistance did not apply. Accordingly, Romero’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim with regard to F.G.’s post-indictment advice also failed.

Romero further contended that D.J. and R.C. ineffectively assisted him when they (1) allowed him to be tried while incompetent, and (2) failed to object contemporaneously to alleged prosecutorial misconduct at trial. The record reflects that defense counsel raised the issue of Romero’s competency numerous times, and the court made adequate rulings on the record each time. In regard to Romero’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct, even assuming that the prosecutor’s statements were improper and that counsel’s failure to object constituted deficient performance, Romero failed to allege facts demonstrating prejudice. Therefore, the post-conviction court did not err in dismissing these claims without an evidentiary hearing. The order was affirmed.

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

Tenth Circuit: Government’s Late Filing Bars District Court Jurisdiction for Sentence Reduction

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Baker on Tuesday, October 28, 2014.

Defendant Frederick Baker and co-defendant Mark Akins were indicted on a fraudulent investment scheme. The trials were separate, and Baker was eventually sentenced to 41 months’ imprisonment, the low end of the Guidelines range. Three weeks after sentencing, Baker met with prosecutors and provided them information about his and Akins’ role in the fraud and offered to testify against Akins. An assistant U.S. attorney told Baker he would recommend a sentence reduction to the court based on Baker’s proffered information. Twice during the year following his sentencing, Baker and his attorney asked the government to file a Crim. P. 35(b) motion for sentence reduction. The government did not do so, instead waiting until the completion of Akins’ restitution, which fell outside Rule 35(b)’s one year time limit for requests for sentence reduction. Eventually, the government did petition the district court for a sentence reduction under Rule 35(b)(2)(B), but the district court denied the motion as time-barred. Baker appealed.

The Tenth Circuit examined Rule 35(b), which allows the government to petition the court within one year of sentencing for a sentence reduction for defendants who provide information that materially assists the government. The government filed its motion under 35(b)(2)(B), which allows an exception for the one-year time bar for defendants whose information did not become useful until after the expiration of the one-year period. In its motion, the government said that Baker’s information was useful both before and after the expiration of the one-year period, but the district court found that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the motion due to Rule 35’s one-year time bar. The Tenth Circuit, though sympathetic to Baker, could find no reason to reverse the district court’s finding. The ruling was affirmed.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Withdrawn Plea Constitutes “Conviction” of Felony Under Federal Immigration Law

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Espino-Paez on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

Guilty Plea—Deferred Judgment—Federal Immigration Law—Residency—Crim.P. 32(d) and 35(c)—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Jurisdiction.

Defendant, a Mexican citizen, pleaded guilty to the use of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a deferred judgment for one year on the condition that he successfully complete drug and alcohol treatment. After he completed the treatment, the district court permitted him to withdraw the plea, and the court dismissed the case with prejudice. Defendant thereafter sought permanent residency in the United States, which was denied because a withdrawn plea in a Colorado state court constitutes “conviction” of a felony under federal immigration law. Defendant filed a post-conviction motion seeking to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim.P. 35(c) and Crim.P. 32(d) based on ineffective assistance of counsel, which was denied.

On appeal, defendant contended that the district court erred in summarily denying his Crim.P. 35(c) motion. However, a deferred judgment is not reviewable under Crim.P. 35(c) unless it is revoked and a judgment is entered.

Defendant further contended that the district court abused its discretion in failing to consider his Crim.P. 32(d) motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and requested that the case be remanded for that purpose. Because defendant had already successfully completed his deferred judgment, the district court did not have jurisdiction to rule on defendant’s motion. The appeal challenging the order denying relief was dismissed and the order denying relief was affirmed.

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