Editor’s note: Summaries are pulled from court opinions and edited for style, clarity and space.
COLORADO SUPREME COURT
Opinions for April 13
Mosley v. People
After a jury found Victor Mosley guilty of sexually assaulting his youngest daughter, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed his convictions and remanded the case for a new trial.
With a request to the Colorado Supreme Court, Mosley argued that the trial court violated his statutory right to a speedy trial during retrial when the judge granted the prosecution’s request for a continuance and therefore the charges against him should be dismissed.
According to the Supreme Court, the case required an examination of how various subsections of Colorado’s speedy trial statute interplay with one another.
Specifically, the justices considered whether the exclusions listed in Subsection 6 of the statute apply to the six-month calculation for a new trial if a defendant’s convictions are reversed.
Subsection 1 requires the defendant be discharged from custody and the charges dropped if he or she is not brought to trial within six months of a “not guilty” plea.
Subsection 2 of the statute says “any new trial must be commenced within six months after the date of the receipt by the trial court of the mandate from the appellate court” if the conviction was reversed on appeal.
Subsection 6 lists exclusions the speedy trial calculation, including delay resulting from a continuance granted because material evidence is unavailable despite the prosecutor’s diligent efforts to obtain such evidence.
Subsection 6 also says these exclusions apply in “computing the time within which a defendant shall be brought to trial as provided in subsection 1.”
Mosley’s argument claims the language of Subsection 6 listing the exclusions only refers to Subsection 1 for an initial trial, not to a reversed verdict as outlined in Subsection 2. Under that reasoning, Mosley contended the trial court erred when it granted a prosecutorial request for a continuance because a complaining witness was unavailable.
Because of that, his retrial exceeded the six-month timeline in Subsection 2 and therefore violated his speedy trial right. Mosley also argued that the court’s granting of the continuance was unjustified, even if the court does not agree that the exclusions in Subsection 6 do not apply in his case, because the prosecution did not act with due diligence to locate the witness as required by the statute.
The Court of Appeals rejected Mosley’s arguments, and the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the judgment.
The justices ruled the speedy trial statute’s exclusions listed in Subsection 6 apply to calculations for retrials after a reversed conviction “to give consistent, harmonious and sensible effect to all its parts.”
The Supreme Court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding that the prosecution exercised due diligence in attempting to locate the complaining witness at issue.
Delacruz v. People
Like its companion case Mosley v. People, the Supreme Court in this case looked at the interplay of various subsections of Colorado’s speedy trial statute — specifically, whether the exclusions listed in subsection 6 apply to the six-month calculation for retrial after an appellate reversal.
Gerardo Delacruz was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and prohibited use of a weapon. The charges arose from an altercation at a bar in Denver.
Like Mosley, Delacruz appealed his convictions and won a reversal. Under the speedy trial statute, his retrial was set within a six-month deadline from the date of reversal from the Court of Appeals.
Four days before the second trial — 14 days before the deadline — the prosecution found a potential conflict of interest with Delacruz’s defense counsel and notified the court, which held a hearing.
The trial court decided that a continuance was necessary to allow an independent investigation to allow Delacruz to make a decision about his defense counsel regarding the potential conflict.
The trial court also granted a continuance under Subsection 6 of the statute for the prosecution, reasoning that it was entitled to additional time to get the witness in court who initially brought the potential conflict to light.
Delacruz objected to the continuance and claimed it was a violation of the speedy trial statute and later moved to dismiss his charges. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court judgment, finding it did not abuse its discretion and the Colorado Supreme Court upheld that decisions.
Delacruz, similar to Mosley, argued that the statute’s subsections did not apply in his case and the trial court therefore erred when it exceeded the six-month deadline. Additionally, the defendant argued the trial court committed an error when it found the potential conflict fit under the “exceptional circumstance” exception under Subsection 6 of the speedy trial statute and subsequently granted the continuance for an investigation of the potential conflict of interest.
Delacruz argued that he could have waived his right to counsel free of conflict at the hearing on the matter without an investigation.
Regarding his final contention, Delacruz also claimed the trial court erred when it granted the prosecution’s request for a continuance because the witness was not “unavailable” nor was her testimony “material,” as defined in Subsection 6.
The Supreme Court held, in upholding the Court of Appeals ruling, that the exclusions in the statute applied to Delacruz’s reversed conviction and retrial.
In applying the reasoning in Mosley, the Supreme Court also held the trial court did not err when it found the late disclosure of a possible conflict with defense counsel fell under the “exceptional circumstances” exclusion to the six-month deadline.
JPMorgan Chase Bank v. McClure
This case required the Colorado Supreme Court to decide the relative priority of competing charging orders filed by multiple judgment creditors against a foreign judgment debtor’s membership interests in several Colorado limited liability companies.
The court concluded first that for purposes of determining the enforceability of a charging order, a membership interest of a non-Colorado citizen in a Colorado limited liability company is located in Colorado.
The court further concluded that when, as in this case, a judgment creditor obtains a foreign charging order that compels certain action by a Colorado limited liability company, the charging order is ineffective against the limited liability company until the creditor has taken sufficient steps to obligate the company to comply with that order.
Although the authorities are not uniform as to the steps to be taken, under any of the applicable scenarios, the charging orders obtained by the petitioner, JPMorgan Chase Bank, did not become effective until after the respondents had obtained and served competing charging orders.
The high court concluded that the respondents’ charging orders are entitled to priority over Chase’s competing charging orders and affirmed an appellate ruling accordingly. •