Watkins v. People

Decision Date14 September 1959
Docket NumberNo. 19001,19001
Citation344 P.2d 682,140 Colo. 228
PartiesPerry R. WATKINS, Plaintiff in Error, v. PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Defendant in Error.
CourtColorado Supreme Court

Robert W. Caddes, Alfred L. Capra, Denver, for plaintiff in error.

Duke W. Dunbar, Atty. Gen., Frank E. Hickey, Deputy Atty. Gen., John E. Bush, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendant in error.

DOYLE, Justice.

The plaintiff in error was adjudicated mentally ill by the County Court of the City and County of Denver on March 13, 1958. The medical commission report was made on March 11, 1958. He seeks review of the order of the County Court of the City and County of Denver denying his motion to vacate and set aside the order of commitment made on February 19, 1959.

It appears that the plaintiff in error has been released from the State Hospital at Pueblo and that he sought a decree recognizing his restoration. This was also denied by the county court but the propriety of this ruling is not in question here.

The plaintiff in error did not demand a jury trial in accordance with C.R.S.1953 (Cum.Supp.), 71-1-13. However, the county court order for the delivery of the plaintiff in error to the custody of the Colorado State Hospital was entered just two days after the commission report.

Plaintiff in error contends that the applicable statute, 71-1-13, contemplates that the commitment order shall not be executed until the five-day waiting period has passed and that failure of the county judge to observe this deprived him of his right to demand a jury trial during the five-day period. The applicable statute provides:

'71-1-13. Review.--Any respondent or his attorney, his guardian ad litem, his legal guardian, parent, spouse, or adult next of kin may, within five days after the entry of the order of adjudication or commitment, file a demand in writing with the court having jurisdiction that the questions considered by the medical commission be tried by a judge or by a jury in such court. If the respondent requests a trial by jury, the court shall, within one month, cause a jury of six persons to be summoned, and the trial shall be had as provided by law for the trial of civil causes before a jury. * * *'

The question to be determined is whether the commitment order, made and executed two days after the report was returned and entered, constituted such an interference with the right of the plaintiff in error to demand a jury trial as to render the adjudication void. We hold that it does.

A similar question was presented in Hultquist v. People, 77 Colo. 310, 236 P. 995, 998. There, in addition to the jury issue, there was a failure to give notice to the respondent at least five days before the commission hearing, and the Court speaking through Mr. Justice Campbell held that this requirement was mandatory. However, it also appeared that respondet was very quickly removed to Denver from Yuma County following the commission's report and the adjudication based upon it. This was held to have deprived the respondent of the right to demand a jury trial within five days. The Court's language which is pertinent to the present question follows:

'* * * Section 10 of the act provides that, if the defendant be dissatisfied with the order of the judge or court, in making the commitment pursuant to the report of the commission, he may within 5 days after the making of such order demand in writing that the questions considered by the commission be tried by a jury. It is too plain for argument that speeding the defendant by train to Denver within a few minutes after the order was entered deprived her of the right to demand within 5 days thereafter, a jury trial. True, there is some testimony, although unsatisfactory, that the county judge, before the commission began to function, stated to the defendant that she was entitled to a jury trial. The county judge himself has no distinct recollection on the subject. It is not likely that any such...

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5 cases
  • People in Interest of Clinton, 87SC200
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • October 17, 1988
    ...205 P.2d 224 (1949) (failure to give required five-day notice of lunacy commission meeting invalidates proceeding); Watkins v. People, 140 Colo. 228, 344 P.2d 682 (1959) (failure to allow for required five-day waiting period to execute commitment order deprives respondent of opportunity to ......
  • People in Interest of Lynch, 88SC198
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • November 27, 1989
    ...v. People, 119 Colo. 529, 205 P.2d 224 (1949) (failure to give five-day notice of lunacy commission proceeding); Watkins v. People, 140 Colo. 228, 344 P.2d 682 (1959) (failure to observe statutory five-day waiting period before executing commitment order); Ford v. District Court, 179 Colo. ......
  • People ex rel. C.C.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • July 21, 2022
    ...statutory right to a jury hearing on his short-term certification invalidated its resulting order."); see also Watkins v. People , 140 Colo. 228, 231, 344 P.2d 682, 684 (1959) (failure of the court to provide time for the respondent to exercise a statutory right to a jury trial invalidated ......
  • People in Interest of Hoylman
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • November 4, 1993
    ...to those problems. The failure to comply with an essential statutory provision constitutes reversible error. See Watkins v. People, 140 Colo. 228, 344 P.2d 682 (1959) (failure of court to provide time for respondent to exercise statutory right to jury trial to review questions presented to ......
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