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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
May 26, 2009

No. 07SC983. Farrar v. People.
Motion for New Trial—Newly Discovered Evidence—Sexual Assault—Child Victim Recantation.

Defendant petitioned for review of the Court of Appeals’ judgment partially affirming his multiple sexual assault and child abuse convictions, and affirming the denial of his motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. While defendant’s direct appeal of his convictions was proceeding in the Court of Appeals, the child victim indicated that her testimony of sexual abuse by defendant was fabricated. After a series of evidentiary hearings, the district court denied defendant’s motion for a new trial, and he was permitted to join an appeal of that ruling with the appeal of his convictions. The Court of Appeals reversed portions of the judgment of conviction, but found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s denial of his motion for new trial. The Supreme Court held that because the district court was not reasonably convinced that the victim’s testimony at trial was false, it did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion for new trial. The Court of Appeals’ decision was affirmed.

No. 08SA169. People v. Summers.
Statutory Construction—Ambiguous Language—Rule of Lenity.

In this original proceeding, the Supreme Court was asked to determine what statute of limitations applied to the crimes with which defendant was charged. The statute contains two contradictory limitations provisions, each compelling a different result in this case. Because of the conflicting statutory language, and because the Court was unable to discern the legislative intent behind the statute, the Court could not determine which limitations period applied. As a result, the Court applied the rule of lenity and held that the charges against defendant were barred by the ten-year statute of limitations in effect when the crimes allegedly were committed. The Court overruled the Court of Appeals’ recent decision in People v. Boston, ___ P.3d ___, No. 07CR2186, 2009 WL 400073 (Colo.App. Feb. 19, 2009), in which the Court of Appeals reached the opposite result the Supreme Court reached in this case. The rule to show cause was made absolute and the case was remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

No. 09SA5. Berry v. Keltner.
Pretrial Disclosures—Expert Witness.

Plaintiff brought this original proceeding to challenge a pretrial order precluding testimony from an expert witness she did not disclose by the applicable deadline. The Supreme Court found that the trial court erred when it barred the expert witness. The Court held that the untimely expert disclosure was substantially justified and harmless because the expert was a treating physician brought into the case at a late date through the natural course of plaintiff’s medical care. Plaintiff’s request to add this expert after the deadline also was justified by the critical nature of the testimony in question. Furthermore, the untimely disclosure was harmless because a trial date had not been set and because defendant’s opportunity to defend against the evidence had not been compromised. The rule to show cause was made absolute.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions