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Aug 24

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Sexual Assault Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney

Alleged Sexual Crime Witnesses’s Prior Juvenile Adjudications

Alleged Sexual Crime Witnesses’s Prior Juvenile Adjudications

Alleged Sexual Crime Witnesses’s Prior Juvenile Adjudications – In the case of  People v. Corson announced on  January 17, 2013 by the Colorado Court of Appeals, the non disclosure of a prior juvenile adjudication (conviction) by the State of Colorado lead to the Court sending a plea agreement back to the lower court for reconsideration of the lower Court’s decision to deny a Colorado Rule 35 C motion.

Facts: David Corson filed a Colorado Crim take a look at the site here.Rule 35(c) motion for post-conviction relief.

He claimed his guilty plea was not validly entered because the primary witness against him in an alleged sexual assault had a prior juvenile adjudication that would have made that person’s credibility attackable (impeachable) at trial.

Corson was employed at a juvenile jail facility. The alleged victim – a 17-year-old inmate alleged that the two had a sexual relationship. It was never disclosed to Corson or his lawyer that the girl had made other false allegations of sexuual assault AND she had juvenile adjudications for the all important crime of False Reporting.

The Issue for the Court was whether that nondisclosure in discovery rendered Corson’s plea   plea invalid and his lawyer counsel ineffective.

There were two key issues in the case:

Was the guilty plea unintelligent and involuntary because:

(1) The prosecution failed to comply with the Court’s discovery order? A violation of the DA’s discovery obligations under Crim. P. 16 and Brady v. Maryland.

and

(2) Did the nondisclosure to Corson’s lawyer of this information existence caused that lawyer to be “ineffective.”

The Result – The Ruling – Corson won.  He won a remand of the case at least. The lower Court’s order denying the 35 C Motion was reversed and the case remanded.

The Reasoning – The Key to this case – was the defense lawyer’s belief that the alleged had a “reputation for making untruthful statements as well as having a past criminal history.” The DA responded that it has ” provided all information pertaining to the victim, which [was] in the possession of the Office of the District Attorney” and, furthermore – any such demand for information about the alleged victim “nothing more than a fishing expedition.” The court ignored the issue.

The Alleged Sexual Crime Witnesses’s Prior Juvenile Adjudications – Valuable Quotations On The Court’s Reasoning In Corson:

“Evidence requested by the defense is discoverable, regardless of whether it contains information admissible at trial, as long as its contents are relevant to the conduct of the defense.

…a prosecutor has a constitutional obligation to disclose evidence favorable to an accused, even without a request, if that evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment.

…Crim. P. 16(I)(a)(1)(V) provides that a prosecutor shall disclose to defense counsel the criminal history of “any person the prosecuting attorney intends to call as a witness in the case.” While this disclosure provision does not enumerate “juvenile adjudications,” Crim. P. 16(I)(a)(2) additionally provides that the prosecuting attorney shall disclose to the defense “any material or information within his or her possession or control which tends to negate the guilt of the accused as to the offense charged or would tend to reduce the punishment therefor.”

A juvenile adjudication is part of a witness’s criminal history subject to disclosure because such evidence may tend to negate the guilt of the accused.

It may be used at trial to elicit a witness’s bias, prejudice, motivation for testifying, or hope for leniency with respect to pending juvenile proceedings as consideration for testifying.

a prior juvenile adjudication for false reporting may be used to elicit character for untruthfulness.

What About The Important Issue Of Juvenile Criminal History Anonymity?

Juvenile criminal histories are presumptively secret in Colorado and have only limited public access under Section 19-1-304, C.R.S.  The Court held that this protection must give way to a defendant’s “constitutional right to the effective cross-examination of an adverse witness with information that tends to negate the guilt of the accused as to the offense charged.”

Conclusion – The DA in this case not only did not turn over the prior adjudications – he represented they did NOT EXIST therefore any plea made by Corson could not represent what the law requires – “a voluntary and intelligent choice among the alternative courses of action open to the defendant,” and could not be the product of “a free and rational choice.” The plea must have been involuntary because it was “induced by misrepresentation, fraud, or coercion.”

On remand – the lower court was ordered to determine whether the misrepresentation is enough to make his lawyer “ineffective” and therefore render the plea a nullity allowing Corson to withdraw his guilty plea – thus restoring Corson to his right to a new trial.  We will see.

Alleged Sexual Crime Witnesses’s Prior Juvenile Adjudications

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg

Email The Author at hmichaelsteinberg@colorado-sex-crimes-lawyer.comor call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-227-7777.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about Colorado Sex Crimes – False Allegations, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue. This aoplies to the subject of this article – The Alleged Sexual Crime Witnesses’s Prior Juvenile Adjudications. 

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