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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
April 7, 2014

2014 CO 22. No. 11SC100. People v. Roldan.
Criminal Law—Juror Bias and Removal—Automatic Reversal Requirement.

The People petitioned for review of the court of appeals’ judgment in People v. Roldan, ___ P.3d ___, ___, No. 08CA2487 (Colo.App. Jan. 20, 2011), in which the court reversed Roldan’s conviction for theft by receiving and his sentence to three years’ probation. The court of appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying a challenge for cause on the ground of juror bias, and that Roldan removed the prospective juror in question with a peremptory challenge and subsequently exhausted his remaining peremptory challenges. In its decision, the court of appeals relied on the Supreme Court’s bright-line, automatic reversal rule in People v. Macrander, 828 P.2d 234, 244 (Colo. 1992).

Because the court of appeals relied on Macrander, rather than evaluating the likely effect of the trial court’s error on the outcome of the specific case in which it occurred, and because the automatic reversal requirement of Macrander has since been overruled, the judgment of the court of appeals was reversed. The case was remanded for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in People v. Novotny, 2014 CO 18.

2014 CO 23. No. 11SC674. People v. Montero-Romero.
Criminal Law—Juror Bias and Removal—Automatic Reversal Rule.

The People petitioned for review of the court of appeals’ judgment in People v. Montero-Romero, No. 10CA833 (Colo.App. Aug. 25, 2011) (not published pursuant to CAR 35(f)), in which that court reversed Montero-Romero’s convictions for first-degree assault and first-degree burglary and his sentence to twenty-eight years in the Department of Corrections. After concluding that the trial court abused its discretion in denying a challenge for cause on the ground of juror bias, and that Montero-Romero removed the prospective juror in question with a peremptory challenge and subsequently exhausted his remaining peremptory challenges, the court of appeals reversed, noting the Supreme Court’s rule of automatic reversal in People v. Macrander, 828 P.2d 234, 244 (Colo. 1992).

The court of appeals’ judgment was reversed. The case was remanded for reconsideration in light of People v. Novotny, 2014 CO 18, in which the Court overruled the bright-line, automatic reversal rule of Macrander and mandated an outcome-specific harmless error analysis.

2014 CO 24. No. 13SA306. Hanlen v. Gessler, Secretary of State.
Election Law—Rulemaking Authority—Emergency Election Rules—School District Director Elections.

The Supreme Court considered whether the Colorado Secretary of State acted in excess of his rulemaking authority in promulgating Rule 10.7.5. The rule, which was promulgated as a temporary or emergency rule, permits designated election officials to determine, after ballots have been printed, that an individual appearing on the ballot is “not qualified for office,” and directs that votes cast for that individual are “invalid and must not be counted.”

The Court held that the rule is void. As a rule of general applicability, the rule conflicts with CRS § 1-4-1002(2.5)(a). It also contravenes the election code by permitting a designated election official to usurp the courts’ express authority to determine issues regarding a candidate’s eligibility that arise following certification to the ballot. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court on different grounds, and did not reach the question of whether the rule conflicts with CRS § 22-31-129, regarding school district director vacancies.

2014 CO 25. No. 11SC441. People v. Brown.
Motion to Continue—Right to Counsel of Choice.

The Supreme Court considered the balance between a defendant’s Sixth Amendment constitutional right to his or her counsel of choice and the public’s interest in the fairness and efficiency of the judicial system. The Court held that when deciding whether to grant a continuance to allow a defendant to change counsel, the trial court must conduct a multi-factor balancing test and determine whether the public’s interest in the efficiency and integrity of the judicial system outweighs the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice. Accordingly, the court of appeals’ judgment was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court for additional findings and conclusions.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

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