Colorado v. KendrickAnnotate this Case
The Colorado Supreme Court concluded the district court misinterpreted the “special circumstances” prong of section 20-1-107(2), C.R.S (2016), in finding that the circumstances at issue satisfied the high burden required to bar an entire district attorney’s office from prosecuting a defendant. Prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial District (the “District Attorney”) twice brought the defendant, Maurice Kendrick, to trial on numerous charges related to allegations that he threatened several women with a gun and then fired the gun at two occupied houses. Each trial ended in a mistrial, and after ordering the second mistrial, the district court found “special circumstances” rendered it unlikely that Kendrick would receive a fair trial if he were again tried by the District Attorney. Accordingly, the court disqualified the District Attorney from re-prosecuting the case and ordered that a special prosecutor be appointed to try Kendrick a third time. The Supreme Court found the district court ordered the disqualification of the District Attorney based on the court’s “lingering concern that because the People have [the defense memorandum] in hand, . . . there clearly is at least an appearance that the defendant would not receive a fair trial, if not an actual problem of him not receiving a fair trial.” Insofar as the district court based its ruling on a perceived “appearance” of impropriety, we conclude that the court applied an incorrect legal standard because, as noted above, the appearance of impropriety is no longer a valid basis for disqualifying a district attorney.