People v. Pronovost, No. 86CA0980

Docket NºNo. 86CA0980
Citation756 P.2d 387
Case DateNovember 25, 1987
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

Page 387

756 P.2d 387
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Charles Franklin PRONOVOST, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 86CA0980.
Colorado Court of Appeals,
Div. II.
Nov. 25, 1987.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 24, 1987.
Certiorari Granted (People) June 6, 1988.

Page 388

Duane Woodard, Atty. Gen., Charles B. Howe, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Richard H. Forman, Sol. Gen., Paul H. Chan, Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for plaintiff-appellee.

Fischer and Gerrard, Mark J. Fischer, Hayden, for defendant-appellant.

VAN CISE, Judge.

Defendant, Charles Pronovost, appeals from a judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of one count of sexual assault on an 11-year-old child allegedly committed in April 1985. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

I.

Defendant first contends that testimony by a psychiatrist called as an expert witness on behalf of the People was improper because it was the equivalent of a statement that the victim was telling the truth. Under the present state of the law, we disagree.

In child sexual abuse cases, an expert witness may not express an opinion that the victim was telling the truth. Tevlin v. People, 715 P.2d 338 (Colo.1986). Also, absent an attack on the complaining witness' credibility, expert testimony which has the sole purpose of bolstering that testimony is improper. People v. Snook, 745 P.2d 647 (Colo.1987). However, expert testimony is admissible to describe the pattern of reactions which abused children typically exhibit. People v. Koon, 724 P.2d 1367 (Colo.App.1986).

In this case, the psychiatrist was qualified, without objection, as an expert in child psychology and specifically in the responses of children who have sustained traumatic abuse. She testified that the victim's demeanor and the manner in which she gave her account of the incident were consistent with typical child abuse cases. At no time did the psychiatrist testify to the victim's truthfulness. Rather, in ruling on defendant's motion in limine and later at trial, the trial court recognized that the witness could not testify as to truthfulness.

Rulings upon admissibility of expert testimony are matters committed to the sound discretion of the trial court, and such rulings will not be disturbed absent a clear showing that its discretion has been abused. People v. Koon, supra. There was no abuse of discretion here.

II.

Defendant also contends that the trial court's refusal to allow the late endorsement of a psychologist offered as an expert witness for the defense denied him his right to a fair trial. We agree.

At the time of arraignment in October 1985, the trial court ordered that discovery be completed by February 14, 1986. Both parties filed certificates of compliance, together with witness lists, on or before that date. Then, on March 28, three days before the scheduled trial date, defendant filed a "motion to continue and waiver of speedy trial" in order to endorse an expert witness. The court was notified at the time it was filed, and it was set for hearing the morning of trial.

In the motion and at the hearing, defense counsel recited the unsuccessful efforts previously made to obtain an expert at a fee that his client could afford. On March 27, he and his client had been able to make affordable arrangements with an experienced, qualified psychologist who examined defendant and would testify to the patterns and profiles of child molesters and that defendant did not fit any of those patterns or profiles. Also, he wanted to and could interview the child victim.

Defense counsel asked for a continuance to enable the prosecutor to interview this...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. J.Q.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • November 14, 1991
    ...use of syndrome evidence in a child sex abuse case. [See e.g., U.S. v. Azure, 801 F.2d 336 (8th Cir.1986); People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 (Colo.Ct.App.1987), aff'd, 773 P.2d 555 (1989); Ward v. State, 519 So.2d 1082 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1988); Keri v. State, 179 Ga.App. 664, 347 S.E.2d 236 (......
  • People v. Eppens, No. 94CA2156
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • March 20, 1997
    ...The evidence was therefore not admissible. See People v. Gaffney, supra; Tevlin v. People, 715 P.2d 338 (Colo.1986); People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 Because defendant made no objection to the testimony at trial, our review is limited to determining whether admission of the evidence consti......
  • People v. Pronovost, No. 88SC31
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • May 15, 1989
    ...to allow the late endorsement of an expert witness for the defense denied the defendant his right to a fair trial. People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 (Colo.App.1987). We granted the prosecution's petition for certiorari to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion by excluding ......
  • People v. Mintz, No. 04CA1024.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • January 25, 2007
    ...whether a victim is being truthful or untruthful on a specific occasion. Tevlin v. People, 715 P.2d 338 (Colo.1986); People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 (Colo.App.1987), aff'd, 773 P.2d 555 An expert may testify as to the typical demeanor and behavioral traits displayed by a sexually abused c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. J.Q.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • November 14, 1991
    ...use of syndrome evidence in a child sex abuse case. [See e.g., U.S. v. Azure, 801 F.2d 336 (8th Cir.1986); People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 (Colo.Ct.App.1987), aff'd, 773 P.2d 555 (1989); Ward v. State, 519 So.2d 1082 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1988); Keri v. State, 179 Ga.App. 664, 347 S.E.2d 236 (......
  • People v. Eppens, No. 94CA2156
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • March 20, 1997
    ...The evidence was therefore not admissible. See People v. Gaffney, supra; Tevlin v. People, 715 P.2d 338 (Colo.1986); People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 Because defendant made no objection to the testimony at trial, our review is limited to determining whether admission of the evidence consti......
  • People v. Pronovost, No. 88SC31
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • May 15, 1989
    ...to allow the late endorsement of an expert witness for the defense denied the defendant his right to a fair trial. People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 (Colo.App.1987). We granted the prosecution's petition for certiorari to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion by excluding ......
  • People v. Mintz, No. 04CA1024.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • January 25, 2007
    ...whether a victim is being truthful or untruthful on a specific occasion. Tevlin v. People, 715 P.2d 338 (Colo.1986); People v. Pronovost, 756 P.2d 387 (Colo.App.1987), aff'd, 773 P.2d 555 An expert may testify as to the typical demeanor and behavioral traits displayed by a sexually abused c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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