Higgins v. ColoradoAnnotate this Case
Similar to "Colorado v. Johnson," (2016 CO 69 (2016)), at issue in this case were questions involving what a trial court could order when a juvenile seeks a reverse-transfer of her criminal case from trial court to juvenile court. Defendant Brooke Higgins was a juvenile respondent before a magistrate judge. The district attorney requested, and Higgins' then-defense-counsel agreed to, a state administered mental health assessment of Higgins. Because the parties agreed, the magistrate judge ordered the assessment. Later, in front of a trial court, the DA dismissed the juvenile charges against Higgins and charged her as an adult with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. Higgins sought, and the trial court granted, a reverse-transfer hearing to determine whether she should remain in adult court. Before that hearing, Higgins, now represented by different counsel, filed a motion to suppress the mental health assessment and disqualify the trial court judge. The trial court denied both requests, holding that the parties stipulated to the assessment, and there was independent statutory authority for the magistrate judge to order the assessment. Higgins appealed, arguing the trial court lacked authority to order a juvenile-charged-as-an-adult to undergo a mental health assessment for a reverse-transfer hearing. The Supreme Court found that based on the facts of this case, Higgins' arguments, while loosely related to those in "Johnson," were hypothetical and premature. The Court therefore vacated the trial court's order and remanded the case for further proceedings.