People v. Walker

Citation318 P.3d 479
Decision Date03 February 2014
Docket NumberSupreme Court Case No. 11SC289
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Petitioner/Cross–Respondent, v. Marshall Adam WALKER, Respondent/Cross–Petitioner.

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals, Court of Appeals Case Number 07CA1572

Attorneys for Petitioner: John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Joseph G. Michaels, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado.

Attorneys for Respondent: Douglas K. Wilson, Public Defender, Elizabeth Griffin, Deputy Public Defender, Denver, Colorado.

En Banc

CHIEF JUSTICE RICE delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶ 1 This case asks us to determine whether Respondent Marshall Adam Walker effectively waived his right to a jury trial. We hold that a defendant may not litigate the validity of such a waiver on direct appeal but must do so in a post-conviction proceeding. We further hold that, when evaluating a defendant's waiver of the right to a jury trial, the post-conviction court must determine whether the defendant personally waived that right knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. We also hold that an inadequate advisement that fails to comply with Crim. P. 23(a)(5)(II) does not automatically entitle a defendant to an evidentiary hearing. Rather, in order to obtain such a hearing, the defendant must allege specific facts suggesting that his waiver was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. Finally, we affirm Walker's indeterminate sentences.

¶ 2 Because the court of appeals should not have reviewed Walker's challenge regarding the validity of his waiver of the right to a jury trial, we vacate its ruling in regard to Walker's challenge to the validity of his jury trial waiver. We otherwise uphold the court of appeals' judgment of conviction. If Walker wishes to challenge the validity of his waiver (and its effect on his sentences), he must do so in a post-conviction proceeding.

I. Facts and Procedural History

¶ 3 Walker taught middle school science in Jefferson County for nearly a decade. During his teaching career, Walker paid for hunting trips with three of his male students. Walker used the hunting trips to engage in unlawful sexual behavior with the three boys. Eventually, one of Walker's victims told his father about Walker's sexual abuse. The People ultimately charged Walker with thirty counts of sexual exploitation, three counts of enticement, and four counts of unlawful sexual contact arising from Walker's conduct.

¶ 4 One week before trial, Walker waived his right to a jury with the following colloquy:

Walker's Counsel : Your Honor, the defendant desires to waive his right to a jury in this case, and we would ask that the matter be heard by this Court.

Trial Court : And what's the position of the People?

Prosecutor : We have no objection to the Court hearing this matter.

Trial Court : And, Mr. Walker, you understand you have the right to a jury trial?

Walker : That's correct.

Trial Court : And here your attorney is representing that you wish to waive a jury trial; is that correct?

Walker : That is correct.

Trial Court : Are you under the influence of any drugs, alcohol, or medications?

Walker : No I'm not.

Trial Court : Have you been forced or coerced to waive a jury trial in this case in any way?

Walker : No, I have not.

Trial Court : The Court finds the defendant has entered a knowing and intelligent waiver of his right to jury trial, and the matter will be heard by the Court.

¶ 5 At trial, the evidence established that Walker sexually exploited his victims by photographing them naked. In addition to the hunting trips, Walker convinced the boys to pose nude in exchange for a new gun, pornography, and—in at least one instance—raising a victim's low grade. Walker was convicted of thirty exploitation counts, two enticement counts, and three unlawful sexual contact counts.

¶ 6 The trial court sentenced Walker to a four-year determinate sentence and indeterminate sentences for twenty-four of his sexual exploitation counts. Walker appealed.

¶ 7 Despite affirming Walker's conviction, the court of appeals remanded Walker's case for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Walker validly waived his right to a jury trial. People v. Walker, ––– P.3d ––––, ––––, No. 07CA1572, 2011 WL 724673, at *20 (Colo.App. Mar. 3, 2011). Applying a plain error standard, the court of appeals opined that Walker's “advisement did not substantially comply with the requirements set forth in Crim. P. 23(a)(5)(II)(b)(i)(v), which was in effect at the time of [Walker's] purported waiver.” Id. at –––– – ––––, 2011 WL 724673 at *16–17.

¶ 8 The court of appeals also instructed the trial court to use the evidentiary hearing to resolve Walker's argument that his indeterminate “sentences must be vacated.” Id. at ––––, 2011 WL 724673 at *20. The court of appeals held that it was unable to resolve Walker's “contention concerning the indeterminate sentences [because that issue turned] upon the outcome of [Walker's] evidentiary hearing.” Id. In other words, only if Walker had effectively waived his right to a jury trial could the trial court properly consider the requisite additional facts supporting Walker's indeterminate sentences. Seeid.

¶ 9 We granted certiorari to address: (1) whether a trial court's advisement on a defendant's right to waive a jury trial that fails to comply with Crim. P. 23(a)(5)(II) constitutes error requiring remand for a post-conviction evidentiary hearing, and (2) whether determinate sentences must be imposed on Walker's exploitation counts because section 18–1.3–1004(4)(a)(II), C.R.S. (2011) (current version at section 18–1.3–1004, C.R.S. (2013)) was not charged or because there was no jury trial waiver.

II. Procedure for Reviewing Jury Trial Waiver

¶ 10 Walker argues that because the trial court's advisement failed to comply with Crim. P. 23(a)(5)(II), he is entitled to a hearing to present evidence that his waiver of the right to a jury trial was in fact invalid. Before considering the effect of an inadequateadvisement, we must first clarify the procedure for reviewing such an argument. We hold that a defendant may not contest the validity of his waiver of a right to jury trial on direct appeal; rather, he must raise such an argument in a post-conviction proceeding.

¶ 11 Our holding harmonizes with another opinion we decide today, Moore v. People, 2014 CO 8, 318 P.3d 511. In that case, we hold that a defendant may only challenge his waiver of the right to testify in a post-conviction proceeding. Id. at ¶ 3. We reach this conclusion because “a defendant's challenge to the knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of the right to testify likely will require a post-conviction court to look beyond the trial court's advisement into facts that the defendant brings forward that are not contained in the direct appeal record.” Id. at ¶ 17. Therefore, we recognize that requiring post-conviction review of such a waiver “focuses not only on the sufficiency of the advisement itself, but also on the actual knowing, voluntary, and intelligent nature of a defendant's waiver.” Id. Finally, we hold that a defendant is not required to contemporaneously object to the trial court's advisement in order to challenge his waiver of the right to testify in the post-conviction setting, as “it is illogical to oblige a defendant to object contemporaneously to the trial court's advisement.” Id. at ¶ 18.

¶ 12 The right to a jury trial obviously differs from the right to testify; procedurally speaking, however, the two are quite similar. Both derive from the United States and Colorado Constitutions. U.S. Const. amends. VI, XIV; Colo. Const. art. II, §§ 23, 25. More importantly, in the event of waiver, both are accompanied by procedural safeguards to ensure that defendants are properly advised of these rights. Compare People v. Curtis, 681 P.2d 504, 514 (Colo.1984) (requiring trial courts to advise defendants regarding their right to testify), withCrim. P. 23(a)(5)(II) (instructing trial courts to advise defendants regarding their right to a jury trial). It thus follows that the concerns we identify in Moore regarding direct appeal of a waiver of the right to testify similarly attend a waiver of the right to a jury trial, and it is only rational to apply the same procedure—that is, requiring defendants to challenge their waiver in a post-conviction proceeding—to both rights.

¶ 13 Accordingly, we hold that a defendant may not challenge his waiver of the right to a jury trial on direct appeal but must do so in a post-conviction proceeding. Furthermore, a defendant need not contemporaneously object to his advisement in order to litigate the validity of his waiver of the right to a jury trial before a post-conviction court. Having reached this conclusion, we now consider the effect of an inadequate trial court advisement on the waiver of the right to a jury trial.

III. Jury Trial Waiver

¶ 14 We hold that a defendant effectively waives his right to a jury trial when he personally waives that right knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. We further hold that an inadequate advisement that fails to comply with Crim. P. 23(a)(5)(II) does not automatically entitle a defendant to an evidentiary hearing in a post-conviction proceeding. Rather, in order to obtain such a hearing, the defendant must allege specific facts suggesting that his waiver was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.

A. Standard for Evaluating Waiver of the Right to Jury Trial

¶ 15 The United States and Colorado Constitutions guarantee criminal defendants the right to trial by an impartial jury. U.S. Const. amend. VI; Colo. Const. art. 2, § 23. Neither constitution, however, guarantees a criminal defendant the right to waive his jury trial and have his case tried to the court. SeePeople v. Dist. Court, 953 P.2d 184, 188 (Colo.1998); see also§ 16–10–101, C.R.S. (2013) (providing that the prosecution can refuse to consent to a defendant's jury trial waiver). Rather, the...

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