Colorado Supreme Court Rules Again in People v. Stackhouse

In latest decision, court rules on question of double jeopardy

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A wholly effective system with no transparency and no public confidence will not suffice,” said a recent report on judicial discipline from IAALS.

Ten years, one ruling from the Colorado Court of Appeals, two from the state Supreme Court and a petition to the nation’s highest court. The Colorado Supreme Court has decided an issue of double jeopardy in a case in which a defendant’s second trial is still pending, eight years after his first trial for the underlying charges. Since its beginning, the case has bounced back and forth through Colorado’s courts, and the state Supreme Court decided a different issue in the same case in 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the previous issue in 2016.

In Re People v. Stackhouse, the Colorado Supreme Court on June 18 reversed an order from a district court that allowed the state to retry defendant James Robert Stackhouse on only one of many instances of alleged sexual assault on a child for which the state charged him. The Supreme Court ruled the district court had erroneously concluded the jury in Stackhouse’s first trial had necessarily found he did not commit multiple acts of assault, and moreover could not be retried for more than a single assault. The only certain fact, the court said, is that the jury did not unanimously agree Stackhouse engaged in two or more of five types of sexual abuse specified to them on a form.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the June 25, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.