Colorado v. PorterAnnotate this Case
The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to resolve a split of authority between divisions of the court of appeals on whether double jeopardy barred a new habitual criminal sentencing hearing when the trial court erroneously dismissed the habitual counts before the State presented any evidence as to those counts. In 2002, Reginald Porter robbed and attempted to sexually assault a casino worker. He tried to evade capture after a police chase. Based on these events, the State charged Porter with two counts of first degree burglary and one count each of aggravated auto theft, attempted sexual assault, aggravated robbery, vehicular eluding and third degree assault. The prosecution added habitual counts later. A jury found Porter guilty of all charges. The trial court adjudicated Porter as a habitual offender. Porter appealed, and the court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. At the second trial, Porter waived his right to trial by jury, and the court found him guilty of most of the substantive charges. Before the habitual phase, Porter moved to dismiss the habitual counts. The trial court was persuaded by his arguments, and the counts were dismissed. The court of appeals concluded, in pertinent part, that double jeopardy precluded a new habitual criminal sentencing hearing. The court relied on the Supreme Court's opinion in "Colorado v. Quintana," (634 P.2d 413 (Colo. 1981)) to conclude that jeopardy attached during the substantive phase of trial, and carried through to the habitual phase. Since Quintana, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that federal constitutional double jeopardy protections do not apply to habitual criminal proceedings. After review, the Colorado Supreme Court held that Colorado double jeopardy law did not apply to noncapital sentencing proceedings. Accordingly, double jeopardy did not bar trial of defendant's habitual counts in this case.