COLORADO SUPREME COURT
December 3, 2018
2018 CO 93. No. 15SC504. Ruibal v. People.
Evidence—Expert Testimony—Abuse of Discretion.
Ruibal petitioned for review of the Court of Appeals’ judgment affirming his conviction for second degree murder. Over defense objection and without taking evidence or making any findings as to reliability, the trial court admitted expert testimony to the effect that the victim’s injuries in this case demonstrated “overkill,” a formal term describing multiple injuries focused on one area of the victim’s body, which includes blows about the head and face that are numerous and extensive, indicating that the assailant likely had either a real or perceived emotional attachment to the victim. Relying on case law from several other jurisdictions, a treatise dealing with related kinds of injuries, and the witness’s own experience with autopsies involving similar injuries, the Court of Appeals concluded that the expert opinion was sufficiently reliable and that the trial court had implicitly found as much by granting the prosecution’s proffer.
The Supreme Court held that because the trial court made no specific finding that the theory of “overkill” espoused by the witness was reliable, nor was the reliability of that theory either supported by evidence in the record o r already accepted in this jurisdiction, its admission amounted to an abuse of discretion. However, because there was overwhelming evidence of defendant’s guilt apart from the expert testimony, the error was necessarily harmless. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals’ judgment was affirmed.
2018 CO 94. No. 18SA92. In re Fox v. Alfini.
Attorney–Client Privilege—Discovery—Client with Diminished Mental Capacity.
In this original proceeding pursuant to C.A.R. 21, the Supreme Court reviewed the district court’s order compelling production of a recording of petitioner’s initial consultation with her attorney. The district court determined that the recording was not subject to the attorney–client privilege because her parents were present during the consultation and their presence was not required to make the consultation possible. Further, the district court refused to consider several new arguments that petitioner raised in a motion for reconsideration.
The Court issued a rule to show...