March 9, 2012
Colorado Supreme Court - criminal law decision - People v. Laeke
People v. Laeke Insanity / Right to Jury Trial
Facts: While in the psychiatric ward of Denver General, Mr. Laeke supposedly exposed himself and attempted to commit a sexual assault. At the arraignment, over his objection, Mr. Laeke’s attorney pled not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecution stipulated to the plea, and the trial court then sent Mr. Laeke to the State Hospital. However, Mr. Laeke appealed. The Court of Appeals held that Mr. Laeke had both a statutory and constitutional right to jury trial on the issue of insanity.
Issue: Whether a person still possesses a right to a jury trial when, over their objection, defense counsel pleads NGRI and the prosecution stipulates to insanity?
Reasoning: Simply the Court held at no point did the legislature create a substantive right to a jury trial when the prosecution does not contest insanity. Further, the Court held no constitutional violation occurred because the statute allowed an NGRI plea over the objection of the accused.