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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
October 1, 2012

2012 CO 59. No. 12SA80. People v. Guthrie.
Criminal Law—Fourth Amendment—Suppression of Evidence—Inventory Search Subsequent to a Summary Contempt Conviction.

In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court considered whether the trial court erred in applying the exclusionary rule to suppress evidence of an illegal narcotic discovered during a routine inventory search of defendant’s personal effects. The search was performed after a judge of the El Paso County Court, in a previous proceeding, ordered a deputy sheriff to jail her for direct contempt of court. The district court used suppression as an ad hoc remedy for the due process violation it deemed the judge to have committed when conducting the contempt proceeding. 

The Court held that no violation of the Fourth Amendment occurred here. The inventory search the police carried out resulted directly from the county court’s order to the deputy sheriff, based on a finding of criminal contempt of court, to jail defendant. Appeal of the summary contempt conviction, which might or might not result in reversal, would be the proper recourse for the county court’s alleged due process violation. Suppressing evidence of the illegal narcotic discovered as a result of the valid inventory search would not be an appropriate remedy even if the county court erred in convicting defendant of direct contempt of court. Accordingly, the district court’s suppression order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

2012 CO 60. No. 10SC617. People v. Gross.
Invited Error Doctrine—Attorney Incompetence—Exception—Review of Defense—Tendered Instructions.

The Supreme Court held that the invited error doctrine precludes a defendant from appealing a jury instruction tendered by his or her own counsel. The attorney incompetence exception to the invited error doctrine, which was enunciated in People v. Stewart, 55 P.3d 107, 119 (Colo. 2002), does not apply to deliberate, strategic acts of defense counsel, but rather to inadvertent errors or oversights. The Court also found that, although the trial court should have instructed the jury on self-defense with respect to the crime of extreme indifference murder, the omission of this instruction did not amount to plain error in this case.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions