Colorado v. PlatteelAnnotate this Case
The named victim in this sexual assault case availed herself of her constitutional and statutory right to attend the preliminary hearing held by the county court. After the State rested their case at the hearing, the defense called the named victim to the stand, even though it had not subpoenaed her. The named victim exited the courtroom, but the court prevented her from leaving the courthouse, ordered her to return to the courtroom, and eventually required her to testify. Although the State objected based on the Victim Rights Act (“VRA”) and Colorado case law, the court overruled their objection. In so doing, the court, like defense counsel, relied on the Colorado Supreme Court's decision in McDonald v. District Court, 576 P.2d 169 (Colo. 1978). The State then obtained a stay and petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the county court's order. Given the state of the record at the preliminary hearing, the Supreme Court concluded the county court erred by applying McDonald. "And, in any event, McDonald preceded the VRA, which was a game changer. Reading McDonald with the gloss supplied by the VRA, we hold that defense counsel may not call to the witness stand an unsubpoenaed victim who happens to be in attendance at a preliminary hearing."