Morrison v. People, No. 99SC306.

Docket NºNo. 99SC306.
Citation19 P.3d 668
Case DateJune 26, 2000
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

19 P.3d 668

Cory MORRISON, Petitioner,
v.
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Respondent

No. 99SC306.

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc.

June 26, 2000.

Rehearing Denied July 24, 2000.


19 P.3d 669
David S. Kaplan, Colorado State Public Defender, Alan M. Kratz, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Petitioner

Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Barbara McDonnell, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Alan J. Gilbert, Solicitor General, Steven O. Sims, First Assistant Attorney General, Laurie A. Booras, Assistant Attorney General, Appellate Division, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Respondent.

Justice MARTINEZ delivered the Opinion of the Court.

We are called upon to review the court of appeals' decision in People v. Morrison, 985

19 P.3d 670
P.2d 1 (Colo.App.1999). The court held that a defendant is not entitled to a new trial if he exhausts his peremptory challenges but does not exercise a peremptory challenge on a juror who he originally challenged for cause.1 We affirm the judgment of the court of appeals upholding the defendant's convictions but do so on different grounds

The central issue of this case is resolved under well-settled principles of law governing challenges for cause issued by a criminal defendant. We hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant's challenge for cause because the juror in question stated that she could fairly hear the evidence. Because the trial court did not commit any error concerning this juror, we need not base our decision on how the defendant responded to what he perceived to be an erroneous denial of a challenge for cause. We consequently find it unnecessary to determine whether a defendant suffers an impairment of his right to use peremptory challenges if he exhausts his peremptory challenges but does not use one of his challenges against a juror who he originally challenged for cause. In such a scenario, the controlling question is whether the defendant's constitutional right to an impartial jury was violated by the presence of a biased juror on his jury.

Therefore, the court of appeals incorrectly relied on this court's precedent to resolve the issues presented in this appeal. Our prior decisions do not require a defendant to cure a trial judge's error on a challenge for cause by using a peremptory strike against the objectionable juror in order to preserve a claim that his right to a fair trial was violated by the presence of a biased juror on his jury. In addition, our decisions establish that if the jury included a biased juror, then the defendant's right to a fair trial was violated and his convictions must therefore be reversed.2

I.

Petitioner Cory Morrison was convicted of two counts of sexual assault on a child (pattern of abuse), in violation of section 18-3-405(2)(d), 6 C.R.S. (1999); four counts of sexual assault on a child (position of trust), in violation of section 18-3-405.3, 6 C.R.S. (1999); and two counts of second degree sexual assault, in violation of section 18-3-403(1)(e), 6 C.R.S. (1999). Morrison also was found subject, under section 16-11-309, 6 C.R.S. (1999), to a mandatory sentence for violent crime.

During voir dire, Morrison challenged for cause Juror Hunt on the grounds that she was predisposed to find Morrison guilty before hearing any evidence and that this predisposition was not dislodged after she received instructions concerning the presumption of innocence. Morrison also argued that Juror Hunt stated that she would have to hear "both sides" before she would render her verdict. The trial court denied Morrison's challenge for cause, finding that Juror Hunt had indicated she would base her verdict on the evidence presented at trial and that she would follow the court's instruction concerning the presumption of innocence. Morrison eventually used all six of his statutorily allotted peremptory challenges, but did not strike Juror Hunt, who sat on the jury.

The court of appeals affirmed Morrison's convictions. See Morrison, 985 P.2d at 7. The court did not reach the question of

19 P.3d 671
whether the trial court erroneously denied the for cause challenge to Juror Hunt. Instead, the court of appeals held that, regardless of whether Juror Hunt should have been removed for cause, because Morrison "chose not to excuse [Juror Hunt] by use of a peremptory challenge, the court's denial of his challenge for cause did not have the effect of reducing the number of peremptory challenges that he could exercise." Id. at 3. Therefore, Morrison failed to demonstrate any prejudice. See id.

II.

As we have indicated, the focus of our inquiry in this case is whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's challenge for cause of Juror Hunt. In our judgment, the court of appeals incorrectly analyzed the defendant's claim. Therefore, we briefly examine the court of appeals' decision before considering whether the defendant's right to a fair trial was violated by the presence of a biased juror on his jury.

A.

The court of appeals held that Morrison suffered no prejudice because he failed to use one of his peremptory challenges against Juror Hunt. See Morrison, 985 P.2d at 3. The court of appeals drew this conclusion from our statements in People v. Prator, 856 P.2d 837 (Colo.1993) and People v. Macrander, 828 P.2d 234 (Colo.1992). We believe that the court of appeals incorrectly interpreted our decisions.

In these cases, we reversed a defendant's conviction if he exhausted his peremptory challenges, the defendant used a peremptory against a juror challenged for cause, and the trial court improperly denied the challenge for cause. See Prator, 856 P.2d at 841; Macrander, 828 P.2d at 244. The prejudice suffered by the defendant related to his substantial right to use peremptory challenges. We had no occasion to consider whether the defendants were tried by impartial juries because they removed the biased jurors by peremptory challenge. Because the jurors did not serve, the defendants could not establish that their right to trial by an impartial jury was violated. Therefore, Prator and Macrander do not stand for the proposition that when a trial court erroneously rules on a challenge for cause, a defendant must utilize a peremptory challenge to remove that juror from the panel in order to preserve a claim that his right to a fair trial was violated by the presence of a biased juror on his jury.

We face a different situation in this case than the one presented in Prator and Macrander. Here, Morrison exhausted his allotment of peremptory challenges but he did not use one against Juror Hunt after the trial court denied his challenge for cause. Juror Hunt ultimately served on the jury. Regardless of whether the defendant chose to use a peremptory challenge on the allegedly objectionable juror, because he challenged Juror Hunt for cause and she served on the jury, his right to an impartial jury was violated if his challenge for cause was improperly denied.3 See United States v. Martinez-Salazar, 528 U.S. 304, 120 S.Ct. 774, 782, 145 L.Ed.2d 792 (2000) (stating that a defendant's right to a fair trial is implicated if the trial court's ruling on a challenge for cause results in the seating of a juror who should have been dismissed). Therefore, we must determine if the trial court properly denied Morrison's challenge for cause regarding Juror Hunt.

We hold that the trial court acted within its discretion in denying Morrison's for cause challenge to Juror Hunt. The record supports the trial court's finding that Hunt would base her decision on the evidence presented at trial and that she would follow the

19 P.3d 672
court's instructions concerning the presumption of innocence. Accordingly, we deny the defendant's claim

B.

The due process clauses of the United States and Colorado constitutions guarantee...

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76 practice notes
  • People v. Abu-Nantambu-El, Court of Appeals No. 14CA1234
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • December 14, 2017
    ...erroneous denial of a challenge for cause results in the seating of a juror who should have been stricken for cause); Morrison v. People , 19 P.3d 668, 671 (Colo. 2000) ("[O]ur decisions establish that if the jury included a biased juror, then the defendant's right to a fair trial was viola......
  • Dunlap v. People, No. 04SA218.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • May 14, 2007
    ...trial court's erroneous denial of a challenge for cause results in the seating of a juror who should have been struck. Morrison v. People, 19 P.3d 668, 671 (Colo.2000) ("[B]ecause [the defendant] challenged [the juror] for cause and she served on the jury, his right to an impartial jury was......
  • Morris v. State, NO. PD-0796-10
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • December 7, 2011
    ...(Los Angeles police detective who was an expert on child exploitation); People v. Morrison, 985 P.2d 1, 3 (Colo. App. 1999), aff'd, 19 P.3d 668 (Colo. 2000) (licensed marriage and family therapist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology); Clark v. State, 41 So. 3d 1052, 1055 (Fla App 3rd Dist 2......
  • Morris v. State, No. PD–0796–10.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • December 7, 2011
    ...(Los Angeles police detective who was an expert on child exploitation); People v. Morrison, 985 P.2d 1, 3 (Colo.App.1999), aff'd, 19 P.3d 668 (Colo.2000) (licensed marriage and family therapist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology); Clark v. State, 41 So.3d 1052, 1055 (Fla.App. 3rd Dist.2010......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
76 cases
  • People v. Abu-Nantambu-El, Court of Appeals No. 14CA1234
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • December 14, 2017
    ...erroneous denial of a challenge for cause results in the seating of a juror who should have been stricken for cause); Morrison v. People , 19 P.3d 668, 671 (Colo. 2000) ("[O]ur decisions establish that if the jury included a biased juror, then the defendant's right to a fair trial was viola......
  • Dunlap v. People, No. 04SA218.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • May 14, 2007
    ...trial court's erroneous denial of a challenge for cause results in the seating of a juror who should have been struck. Morrison v. People, 19 P.3d 668, 671 (Colo.2000) ("[B]ecause [the defendant] challenged [the juror] for cause and she served on the jury, his right to an impartial jury was......
  • Morris v. State, NO. PD-0796-10
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • December 7, 2011
    ...(Los Angeles police detective who was an expert on child exploitation); People v. Morrison, 985 P.2d 1, 3 (Colo. App. 1999), aff'd, 19 P.3d 668 (Colo. 2000) (licensed marriage and family therapist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology); Clark v. State, 41 So. 3d 1052, 1055 (Fla App 3rd Dist 2......
  • Morris v. State, No. PD–0796–10.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • December 7, 2011
    ...(Los Angeles police detective who was an expert on child exploitation); People v. Morrison, 985 P.2d 1, 3 (Colo.App.1999), aff'd, 19 P.3d 668 (Colo.2000) (licensed marriage and family therapist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology); Clark v. State, 41 So.3d 1052, 1055 (Fla.App. 3rd Dist.2010......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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