Colorado Supreme Court Grants Multiple Petitions July 17

The Colorado Supreme Court granted four petitions for writ of certiorari July 17.

According to a Colorado Court of Appeals September 2022 opinion, Justin Martinez shot and killed his best friend April 28, 2018, at about 2 a.m. Prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder. 

Martinez contended he acted in self-defense and before trial he moved to dismiss the charge arguing he was immune from prosecution under the force-against-intruders statute, Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-704.5. But the trial court disagreed and the case proceeded to trial. 

Martinez’s theory of defense was he grabbed the gun in self-defense and then, with no intent to hit the victim, accidentally shot him in the leg. The trial court agreed to instruct the jury on self-defense and gave it a series of instructions concerning Martinez’s right to use deadly force to defend himself.

The jury rejected the charge for second-degree murder and convicted Martinez of reckless manslaughter.

Martinez contended the trial court erred, instructing the jury on multiple aspects of his self-defense claims. The appeals court, in rejecting his contentions, concluded like ordinary self-defense, the “force-against-intruders” defense, known as the “make-my-day” defense isn’t an affirmative defense to a crime involving reckless conduct. The appeals court affirmed the conviction.

The question before the Colorado Supreme Court in this case is whether the prosecution is required to disprove a make-my-day defense beyond a reasonable doubt as to reckless conduct.

Other Petitions Granted

The Colorado Supreme Court granted petitions for writ of certiorari in three other cases. 

According to the October 2022 appeals court opinion in one of the petitions, Phillip Romero had appealed his conviction from a jury finding him guilty of various criminal offenses and the trial court’s determination he was guilty of five habitual criminal counts. 

The appeals court reversed and remanded for retrial, concluding the trial court erred by denying Romero’s Batson challenge to a prospective juror. 

The question before the Colorado Supreme Court in that case is whether the Colorado Court of Appeals erroneously heightened the clear error standard of review in violation of the Colorado Supreme Court’s precedent, which mandates reversal of a trial court’s factual finding only when they are so clearly erroneous as to find no support in the record.

For another case that got its petition for writ of certiorari granted, People v. Segura, the question is “whether a postconviction court violates Crim. P. 35(c)(3)(IV) and (V) by summarily denying some of the claims raised in a pro se motion and limiting the scope of appointed counsel’s representation to claims that survive summary denial.”

The final case that had a petition for certiorari granted is Salah v. People. The question in that case centers on whether a district court violated the petitioner’s constitutional rights to familial association when it revoked his probation because he lived with his sister and her infant son.

All of these petitions were granted en banc by the Colorado Supreme Court. The state high court also announced July 17 the denial of more than two dozen petitions for writ of certiorari.

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