Editor’s Note: Court opinions are summarized by Law Week Colorado
COLORADO SUPREME COURT
McCoy v. People
The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the decision of a division of the Court of Appeals affirming David McCoy’s convictions for two counts of unlawful sexual contact while engaged in the treatment or examination of a victim for other than bona fi de medical purposes, a class four felony.
The Supreme Court was required to determine the appropriate standard of review for unpreserved claims of insufficient evidence and to apply that standard to decide whether legally sufficient evidence supported McCoy’s convictions.
The court initially concluded that sufficiency of the evidence claims may be raised for the first time on appeal and are not subject to plain error review. Appellate courts should review unpreserved insufficiency claims de novo, and not under a plain error standard of review, the court wrote. Such a rule is consistent with criminal procedure rules, long-standing precedent and the nature of sufficiency claims, including the settled principle that a conviction that is based on legally insufficient evidence cannot stand.
On the merits of McCoy’s sufficiency claims, the court reviewed section 18-3-404(1)(g), of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which bars sexual contact committed during treatment or examination for other than bona fi de medical purposes or in a manner substantially inconsistent with reasonable medical practices.
After determining that provision is ambiguous, the court employed settled tools of statutory construction and concluded that the provision applies to a doctor or other individual who is, or holds himself or herself out to be, a health treatment provider of any kind, and who knowingly subjects the victim to sexual contact while examining, treating or purporting to examine or treat the victim for other than a bona fide medical purpose or in a manner substantially inconsistent with reasonable medical practices.
By applying that construction here, the court concluded that the provision is neither facially overbroad nor unconstitutionally vague and that the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to support McCoy’s convictions. The court affirmed the lower appellate court’s judgment. Justice Richard Gabriel delivered the opinion of the court with Justices Carlos Samour, Brian Boatright and Chief Justice Nathan Coats concurring in the judgment only.