People v. Serpa, No. 97CA2243.

Docket NºNo. 97CA2243.
Citation992 P.2d 682
Case DateSeptember 16, 1999
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

992 P.2d 682

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ross SERPA, Defendant-Appellant

No. 97CA2243.

Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. IV.

September 16, 1999.

Certiorari Denied February 14, 2000.


992 P.2d 683
Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Barbara McDonnell, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Michael E. McLachlan, Solicitor General, Catherine P. Adkisson, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

David F. Vela, Colorado State Public Defender, Cynthia Camp, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.

Opinion by Judge STERNBERG.1

Defendant, Ross Serpa, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts

992 P.2d 684
finding him guilty of illegal discharge of a firearm and reckless endangerment. We affirm

Defendant was arrested after his neighbor complained that several gunshots had been fired at his home. A police investigation revealed that a propane tank outside the neighbor's home had been hit by several bullets. In addition, one of the shingles on the neighbor's house was scored by a bullet, and a bullet jacket was found in an adjacent rain-gutter. The prosecution and conviction at issue followed.

I.

Defendant first contends that the trial court erred when it refused to excuse a juror for cause after the juror revealed that she was associated with a victim's assistance group. We disagree.

A defendant accused of a crime has a fundamental right to a trial by fair and impartial jurors. It is the trial court's responsibility to assure that the jurors selected meet this standard. People v. Abbott, 690 P.2d 1263 (Colo.1984).

However, in the absence of an affirmative showing that the trial court has abused its discretion in passing on a challenge for cause, its decision will not be disturbed on appeal. People v. Russo, 713 P.2d 356 (Colo.1986). In determining whether the trial court clearly abused its discretion, the entire voir dire examination of the potential juror must be reviewed. People v. Abbott, supra.

Here, prior to voir dire, members of the panel responded to a questionnaire. One prospective juror wrote in response to the questionnaire that she had experience with and was a member of "victim assistance of Douglas County," and that she had "victim assistance friends."

During voir dire, after questioning, and without specifying a reason, defense counsel challenged this potential juror for cause. Defendant now asserts that the challenge was for bias. The prosecutor objected to the challenge, stating that information provided by the juror was insufficient to excuse her for cause. Defense counsel declined the court's offer to reply to the objection, and the court denied the challenge.

The quoted references in the record to the potential juror's association with "victim assistance" are not dispositive on the issue of her prejudice. Despite defendant's contention to the contrary, there is no indication that the individual was an advocate for or a fiduciary of the victims. Further, in the same questionnaire, the potential juror stated that she would have no difficulty remaining fair and impartial, and she did not respond to the trial court's inquiries of the venire regarding their ability to remain impartial. See People v. Abbott, supra (juror's assurance of impartiality is one factor which supports denial of a challenge for cause).

Moreover, there was no attempt to establish a more adequate basis for the challenge. Defense counsel did not inquire into the matter when he questioned the panel member during voir dire, nor did he attempt to reinitiate questioning following the prosecution's objection to his challenge. See People v. Backus, 952 P.2d 846, 852 (Colo.App.1998) ("The failure to use reasonable diligence on voir dire to determine if a challenge for cause exists may result in a waiver of the challenge."); People v. Crespin, 635 P.2d 918 (Colo.App.1981) (same).

Under these circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to excuse the juror.

II.

Defendant next contends that the trial court erred when it refused to grant...

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9 practice notes
  • People v. Whitman, No. 04CA1428.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 29, 2007
    ...on other grounds, 105 P.3d 209 (Colo.2005); People v. Gilbert, 12 P.3d at 336 (juror was volunteer victims' advocate); People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 684 (Colo.App.1999)(juror was associated with county victim assistance When these facts are combined with the prospective juror's clear state......
  • People v. Oram, No. 07CA0023.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • February 5, 2009
    ...information to clarify a jury instruction is a matter of trial court discretion, and we review for abuse of discretion. People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 685 (Colo.App. 1999). Nonetheless, if a jury indicates that it does not understand a matter of law, the court should clarify the matter. Leo......
  • People v. Carter, Court of Appeals No. 12CA0857.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • March 12, 2015
    ...as a comment on defense counsel's belief in the merits of her case, but instead to show that evidence lacked substance); People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 686 (Colo. App. 1999) (remarks suggesting that evidence presented by defense was designed as a "diversion" and to "sidetrack" the jury from......
  • People v. Perea, No. 03CA1750.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • January 23, 2006
    ...not meritorious, but that evidence in support of defendant's innocence lacked substance), aff'd, 43 P.3d 611 (Colo.2001); People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 686 (Colo.App.1999)(fair argument to make remarks suggesting that defense evidence was designed as a "diversion" to "sidetrack jury" from ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • People v. Whitman, No. 04CA1428.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 29, 2007
    ...on other grounds, 105 P.3d 209 (Colo.2005); People v. Gilbert, 12 P.3d at 336 (juror was volunteer victims' advocate); People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 684 (Colo.App.1999)(juror was associated with county victim assistance When these facts are combined with the prospective juror's clear state......
  • People v. Oram, No. 07CA0023.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • February 5, 2009
    ...information to clarify a jury instruction is a matter of trial court discretion, and we review for abuse of discretion. People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 685 (Colo.App. 1999). Nonetheless, if a jury indicates that it does not understand a matter of law, the court should clarify the matter. Leo......
  • People v. Carter, Court of Appeals No. 12CA0857.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • March 12, 2015
    ...as a comment on defense counsel's belief in the merits of her case, but instead to show that evidence lacked substance); People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 686 (Colo. App. 1999) (remarks suggesting that evidence presented by defense was designed as a "diversion" and to "sidetrack" the jury from......
  • People v. Perea, No. 03CA1750.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • January 23, 2006
    ...not meritorious, but that evidence in support of defendant's innocence lacked substance), aff'd, 43 P.3d 611 (Colo.2001); People v. Serpa, 992 P.2d 682, 686 (Colo.App.1999)(fair argument to make remarks suggesting that defense evidence was designed as a "diversion" to "sidetrack jury" from ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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