Summaries of Published Opinions, 0721 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 7 Pg. 94

PositionVol. 50, 7 [Page 94]

50 Colo.Law. 94

Summaries of Published Opinions

Vol. 50, No. 7 [Page 94]

Colorado Lawyer

July, 2021


May 3, 2021

2021 CO 26. No. 20SA293. People v. Moore.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Plea—Expert Mental Condition Evidence—Self-Defense.

In this opinion, the Supreme Court held that, absent an insanity plea, the trial court must exclude any evidence that is probative of insanity, as that term has been defined by the legislature, irrespective of the ostensible purpose for which it is offered. The court must therefore exclude parts of the proposed testimony that tend to prove that defendant (1) was so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, or (2) suffered from a condition of mind caused by mental disease or defect that prevented defendant from forming a culpable mental state that is an essential element of a crime charged. For a defendant's mental condition to implicate the statutory definition of "mental disease or defect" at the time of the offense, it must have been so severely abnormal that it grossly and demonstrably impaired his or her perception or understanding of reality, without being attributable to the voluntary ingestion of drugs or alcohol. The court must parse any proffered mental condition evidence to distinguish what is probative of insanity under this exacting definition from what is not.

Accordingly, the district court's order allowing the blanket admission of mental condition evidence was vacated.

2021 CO 27. No. 19SC986. Department of Natural Resources v. 5 Star Feedlot, Inc. CRS §§ 33-6-109(1) and -110(1)—CRS §§ 33-2-104(3) and-105(4)—Voluntary Act (Actus Reus)—"Take" Protected Wildlife.

The Supreme Court held that when the State brings a civil action pursuant to CRS § 33-6-110(1) to recover the value of wildlife that has allegedly been taken, it must prove by a preponderance of the evidence all the elements necessary for a conviction under a predicate statutory provision that makes it unlawful to take protected wildlife. Here, the State alleged that 5 Star Feedlot, Inc. (5 Star) violated three such statutory provisions. The Court therefore concluded that the State was required to prove that 5 Star performed the voluntary act proscribed by those taking statutory provisions (the actus reus). Consequently, the State had to prove that 5 Star, consciously and as a result of effort or determination, performed a voluntary act by which it killed or otherwise acquired possession of or control over the fish in question without authorization.

The only evidence presented by the State of a voluntary act performed by 5 Star was the lawful, years-long operation of wastewater containment ponds. But the lawful, longstanding operation of such ponds wasn't an act through which 5 Star killed or otherwise acquired possession of or control over the fish. Rather, as the State admitted in its complaint, the discharge from one of 5 Star's wastewater containment ponds led to the fish's destruction. That discharge, however, was triggered by an act of God—a once-in-a-half-century rainstorm—not an act voluntarily performed by 5 Star. Because the State failed to formally allege or present proof that 5 Star's lawful, years-long operation of wastewater containment ponds killed or otherwise acquired possession of or...

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