January 11, 2011

Colorado Supreme Court decision 1-10-11


Hills v. Westminster Municipal Court            Speedy Trial / Waiver
Facts: City Attorney, tired of getting his ass kicked, attempts to kick Mr. Hills defense lawyer off of Mr. Hills case. Two day prior to trial, Mr. Hills lawyer withdraws, and new counsel enters. New counsel cannot re-set case within the speedy trial period. The trial court offered dates inside speedy, but new counsel could not accept those dates due to conflicts.  New counsel did not offer any dates within speedy in response, but only offered dates outside speedy.
Issue: Whether defense counsel’s scheduling conflicts can waive a client’s rights under the speedy trial statute?
Held: Yes.
Reasoning: All you need to know is the following paragraph:
“In this case, after offering several potential trial dates, the municipal court continued the trial for its own convenience but still offered a final trial date that satisfied the applicable speedy trial provision. Due to a scheduling conflict, however, defense counsel declined that date and offered alternate dates both
outside the speedy trial period. The municipal court then scheduled the trial for its next available trial date, only one week after the second of defense counsel's suggested dates, and which, like defense counsel's proffered dates, fell after
the expiration of the speedy trial period. In this case, the court made a reasonable effort to reschedule within the speedy trial period and the delay that pushed the trial date past the speedy trial deadline-defense counsel's scheduling conflict was
‘occasioned by the action or request of the defendant.’”

Lastly, the Court distinguished Yeager v. Tasset, because in Tasset, defense counsel objected to the trial setting outside speedy trial. Here in Mr. Hills’ case, the Court reasoned that defense counsel implicitly waived Mr. Hills’ right to speedy trial because defense counsel, did not object, rejected the dates offered by the trial court which fell within speedy, and offered no dates within the speedy trial period.

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