Colorado v. DavisAnnotate this Case
On April 20, 2017, defendant William Davis was charged with vehicular eluding, reckless driving, and driving under restraint after failing to yield to a Parks and Wildlife officer at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The court appointed Garen Gervey as Davis’s public defender and set the trial for November 20, 2017. On October 30, 2017, Davis, through counsel, moved for a continuance because: (1) Gervey had another trial set for the same day; and (2) due to a scheduling misunderstanding, investigation was still being completed in the case. The court denied the motion after a hearing in which it emphasized the scheduling difficulties it was having in trying to set a trial date and stated that because this case was “essentially a traffic case,” it would likely be straightforward enough to be tried in a single day. In denying the motion, the court also observed, quoting from Colorado v. Coria, 937 P.2d 386 (Colo. 1997), that the “substitution of one public defender with another does not violate the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, absent evidence of prejudice.” The court explained that it perceived no prejudice because it would not take an attorney “of any competence any time to prepare,” and therefore denied Davis’s motion. On the morning of trial, Davis, through newly substituted counsel, again moved for a continuance. The court denied the motion, and trial proceeded. The jury convicted Davis of vehicular eluding, reckless driving, and driving under restraint. The appellate court adopted the holding from Colorado v. Rainey, 2021 COA 35, 491 P.3d 531, that indigent defendants had a constitutional right to continued representation by appointed counsel and district courts had to apply the factors announced in Colorado v. Brown, 322 P.3d 214 when considering a continuance to enable continued representation by appointed counsel. The conviction was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, finding the trial court correctly considered whether defendant would have been prejudiced if his appointed counsel was replaced by a different public defender, and concluded that he would not be.