Colorado v. GabriesheskiAnnotate this Case
The State petitioned the Supreme Court for review of an appellate court's judgment that affirmed two in limine evidentiary rulings in a prosecution for sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. The district court excluded testimony concerning the recantation of Defendant Mark Gabriesheski's step-daughter (the alleged victim). At trial, testimony by the victim's guardian ad litem appointed in a parallel dependency and neglect proceeding was ruled privileged under the attorney-client privilege. In addition, the trial court held that testimony by a social worker involved in the dependency and neglect proceeding could not be used without Defendant's consent (pursuant to Colorado law). The prosecutor conceded the victim's inability to go forward, and the case was dismissed. The appellate court concluded that Colorado law gave it jurisdiction to entertain the State's appeal, but affirmed the trial court's evidentiary rulings. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part the appellate court's decisions. The Court found the appellate court had jurisdiction to entertain the State's appeal, but disapproved of its conclusions with regard to both evidentiary rulings. Because a child subject to a dependency and neglect proceeding is not a "client" of the guardian ad litem, the attorney-client privilege did not apply. Furthermore, the Court found that the trial court misapplied Colorado law pertaining to the social worker's testimony, and accordingly failed to make sufficient findings to satisfy the statutory requirement that the statements at issue be made in compliance of that statute. The case was remanded for further proceedings.