People v. Richards, No. 87CA1542

Docket NºNo. 87CA1542
Citation795 P.2d 1343
Case DateDecember 28, 1989
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

Page 1343

795 P.2d 1343
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Donald Joseph RICHARDS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 87CA1542.
Colorado Court of Appeals,
Div. II.
Dec. 28, 1989.
Rehearing Denied Feb. 1, 1990.
Certiorari Denied Aug. 27, 1990.

Page 1344

Duane Woodard, Atty. Gen., Charles B. Howe, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Richard H. Forman, Sol. Gen., John Milton Hutchins, First Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for plaintiff-appellee.

David F. Vela, State Public Defender, Douglas D. Barnes, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, for defendant-appellant.

Opinion by Judge TURSI.

Defendant, Donald Joseph Richards, appeals the judgment of conviction entered upon a jury verdict finding him guilty of theft. He argues the trial court abused its discretion by excluding his supplemental defense, and relevant evidence thereto, as a sanction for late compliance with its discovery order. We agree and, therefore, reverse.

On June 29, 1987, following a motion by the prosecution, the trial court entered an order directing the defendant to comply, not later than thirty days prior to the August 4, 1987, trial, with the prosecution's discovery request for disclosure by defendant of, inter alia, the theory of defense, witnesses, and expert reports. Defendant complied with this discovery order by filing an answer and disclosure statement.

Page 1345

On Monday, July 27, 1987, eight days before the scheduled trial, defendant's counsel filed a "Motion to Supplement the Disclosure Statement of the Defendant's Theory of Defense and Witnesses." The basis of this late motion was information newly discovered on July 22, 1987, which indicated that the defendant's illness and medications had certain psychological effects that precluded him from possessing the necessary culpable mental state.

On July 31, 1987, the prosecution filed a motion to bar defendant's supplemental defense as untimely, or in the alternative, for a continuance.

On August 4, 1987, the scheduled day of trial, the court held a brief hearing on the motions. Evidence before the trial court indicated that on July 8, 1987, defendant was taken on an emergency basis to the Aspen Valley Hospital, and on July 10, was admitted on an inpatient basis at the hospital where he was kept until discharge on July 22, 1987. At the time of discharge, counsel learned from the treating physician that defendant was, and had been for several years, suffering from Graves disease, and that both the disease itself and the medications for it could result in substantial psychological disorders, including unusual, bizarre, and antisocial disorders. Counsel explained to the court that, under the circumstances, this supplemental defense could not have been filed sooner.

Nevertheless, the trial court ruled that defendant failed to show good cause for the late supplementation of discovery. It noted that defendant's chronic lupus condition and medications therefor had been presented to the court years earlier in a different matter. On this basis, and the perceived flagrant failure to comply with the court's procedures, the trial court granted the prosecution's motion to bar defendant's supplemental theory of defense and pertinent witness testimony.

Defendant was subsequently convicted by a jury of theft and sentenced by the court to four years probation with total costs and restitution of $8,652.95.

I.

Defendant argues that the right to present his defense is constitutionally protected and the trial court abused its discretion by excluding his supplemental defense, and relevant evidence thereto, as a sanction for late compliance with its discovery order. We agree.

Few rights are more fundamental than that of the accused to present witnesses in his own defense, Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 93 S.Ct. 1038, 35 L.Ed.2d 297 (1973), and to put before the jury evidence that might influence the determination of guilt. Pennsylvania v. Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39, 107 S.Ct. 989, 94 L.Ed.2d 40 (1987).

A trial court sanction which precludes a defendant from presenting the theory of his defense and the testimony of his witnesses directly implicates these fundamental rights. It is among the severest and most drastic sanctions available. See Taylor v. Illinois, 484 U.S. 400, 108 S.Ct. 646, 98 L.Ed.2d 798 (1988); People v. Hampton, 696 P.2d 765 (Colo.1985).

These rights, however, are not an absolute and unqualified guarantee that the exclusion sanction will never be imposed. Rather, such rights are subject to prudential considerations necessary to prevent unwarranted prejudice, to protect the adversary system, and to accommodate other legitimate...

To continue reading

Request your trial
19 practice notes
  • Com. v. Reynolds
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 15, 1999
    ...257, 259, 848 P.2d 337 (Ct.App.1993); McGinty v. Superior Court, 26 Cal.App.4th 204, 213, 31 Cal.Rptr.2d 292 (1994); People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1346 (Colo.Ct.App.1989); State v. Genotti, 220 Conn. 796, 811, 601 A.2d 1013 (1992); People v. Pondexter, 214 Ill.App.3d 79, 85-86, 157 Ill......
  • State v. Killean, No. 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • August 22, 1995
    ...a willful and deliberate violation which was motivated by a desire to obtain a tactical advantage at trial"); People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1346 (Colo.App.1989) (preclusion appropriate when discovery violation "arises out of conduct of a character and magnitude tantamount to 'sandbaggi......
  • People v. Grant, No. 03CA1034.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • January 25, 2007
    ...than the right of the accused to put before the jury evidence that might influence the determination of guilt. People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1345 (Colo.App.1989). However, the right to present a defense is not absolute; it requires only that the accused be permitted to introduce all re......
  • People v. Iversen, Court of Appeals No. 11CA0553
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 9, 2013
    ...than the right of the accused to put before the jury evidence that might influence the determination of guilt. People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1345 (Colo.App.1989). However, the right to present a defense is not absolute; it requires only that the accused be permitted to introduce all re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Com. v. Reynolds
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 15, 1999
    ...257, 259, 848 P.2d 337 (Ct.App.1993); McGinty v. Superior Court, 26 Cal.App.4th 204, 213, 31 Cal.Rptr.2d 292 (1994); People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1346 (Colo.Ct.App.1989); State v. Genotti, 220 Conn. 796, 811, 601 A.2d 1013 (1992); People v. Pondexter, 214 Ill.App.3d 79, 85-86, 157 Ill......
  • State v. Killean, No. 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • August 22, 1995
    ...a willful and deliberate violation which was motivated by a desire to obtain a tactical advantage at trial"); People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1346 (Colo.App.1989) (preclusion appropriate when discovery violation "arises out of conduct of a character and magnitude tantamount to 'sandbaggi......
  • People v. Grant, No. 03CA1034.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • January 25, 2007
    ...than the right of the accused to put before the jury evidence that might influence the determination of guilt. People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1345 (Colo.App.1989). However, the right to present a defense is not absolute; it requires only that the accused be permitted to introduce all re......
  • People v. Iversen, Court of Appeals No. 11CA0553
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 9, 2013
    ...than the right of the accused to put before the jury evidence that might influence the determination of guilt. People v. Richards, 795 P.2d 1343, 1345 (Colo.App.1989). However, the right to present a defense is not absolute; it requires only that the accused be permitted to introduce all re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT