Colorado v. MonroeAnnotate this Case
Colorado has long followed the no-duty-to-retreat rule in self-defense cases. During the closing arguments of Shiela Monroe’s trial, the prosecution repeatedly argued that Monroe didn’t act reasonably in self-defense because she failed to retreat. Although the trial court admonished the jury that Monroe didn’t have a duty to retreat, it instructed the jury that it could consider Monroe’s failure to retreat as relevant to whether she actually believed that she faced an imminent use of unlawful force. The jury found Monroe guilty of first degree assault and attempted first degree murder. Monroe appealed, arguing that because she had no duty to retreat the trial court should not have permitted any argument regarding her failure to do so, even if it was ostensibly directed at undermining the reasonableness of her claim of self- defense. A division of the court of appeals reversed Monroe's convictions. The appellate court abstained from deciding whether it was ever proper to argue that a defendant's failure to retreat undermines the reasonableness of a defendant's self-defense claim, but it concluded the prosecution's arguments impermissibly imposed on Monroe a duty to retreat and remanded for a new trial. After review, the Colorado Supreme Court held the prosecution could not argue a defendant acted unreasonably in self-defense because she failed to retreat from an encounter. Thus, the trial court erred by permitting the prosecution’s arguments regarding Monroe’s failure to retreat. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals on different grounds. Monroe’s conviction was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial.