August 27, 2010

Colorado Court of Appeals decisions 8-5-10

People v. Medina            Felony Murder, Complicity, Burglary / Statutory Construction / Instructions           
Synopsis: Mr. Medina’s girlfriend claims the deceased raped her friend.  Mr. Medina and friends go over to deceased’s apartment to settle the score. When the deceased identifies himself, snitch witness claims Mr. Medina shoots the deceased. An independent witness describes someone like snitch not Mr. Medina to be the shooter. The jury did not convict of 1st Degree Murder After Deliberation, and according to the Court of Appeals, the jury found Mr. Medina did not shoot the deceased.
Issue: Whether burglary with the predicate crime of assault can qualify as predicate burglary for felony murder.
Held: Yes. The Court reasoned ANY burglary may serve as the predicate offense for felony murder.
Issue: Whether the stock Colorado jury instruction on complicity created reversible error?
Held: No. The Court held the complicity instruction, although error, did not require a new trial. See Bogdanov v. People, 941 P.2d 247 (Colo. 1997).
Issue: Can the prosecution pursue inconsistent theories of prosecution?
Held: Yes. The Court wrote, “Due process does not preclude a prosecutor from advancing alternative theories upon which a jury properly could convict one defendant in one trial. See Anne Bowen Poulin, Prosecutorial Inconsistency, Estoppel and Due Process: Making the Prosecution Get Its Story Straight, 89 Cal. L.Rev. 1423, 1429 (2001)(“[i]ssues of inconsistency [that] arise within a single trial ... do not threaten the basic fairness of the process” because “the fact finder can weigh inconsistent alternatives in the context of the whole case”).”
The CofA also quoted from Bradshaw v. Stumpf, 545 U.S. 175 (2005), where the U.S. Supreme Court held, “prosecutorial inconsistencies” as to which of two men shot the victim did not warrant vacating the first defendant's guilty plea, because “the precise identity of the triggerman was immaterial to [his] conviction for aggravated murder,” but did warrant further review of defendant's challenge to his death sentence. Id. at 186-88; compare id. at 189-90 (Souter, J., with Ginsburg, J., concurring) (discussing possible due process limits on inconsistent positions in different cases) with id. At 190 (Thomas, J., with Scalia, J., concurring) (“This Court has never hinted, much less held, that the Due Process Clause prevents a State from prosecuting defendants based on inconsistent theories.”).
Issue: Whether the prosecution presented perjured testimony?
Held: No. The Court reasoned that because all it had was the cold transcript of the trial, it cold not determine whether any testimony was in fact perjured, and hinted the claim sounds like a 35(c) issue.

People v. Perry            Removal from Sex Offender Registry
The CofA held, if a person successfully completed a deferred sentence or adjudication, then the person can apply to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry.

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