October 2, 2011

Colorado Court of Appeals 9-15-11 Criminal Law Decision

People v. Gibbons           Modified Allen Instruction /  Time Fuse Instruction
Facts: The jury came back and said it was deadlocked. The trial court read the modified Allen instruction to the jury and told them to deliberate for another hour. The trial court stated in an hour it would check and see where the jury was at at that time. The jury then convicted Mr. Gibbons of theft by receiving and second-degree perjury.
Issue: Whether the hour time check stated by the trial court amounted to an impermissible ‘time-fuse’ instruction?
Held: No.
Reasoning: The Court of Appeals reasoned that by telling the jurors that it would check back with them in an hour, the trial court did not coerce the jury into its verdict. Unlike Allen v. People (where the trial court told the jury 15 more minutes and it was going to declare a mistrial), that the trial court did not give the jury a coercive time fuse instruction.

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