Zoll v. Colorado

A jury found petitioner Matthew Zoll guilty of second degree assault on a peace officer, criminal impersonation, and two counts of resisting arrest. The trial court adjudicated Zoll a habitual criminal and sentenced him to eighteen years in the Department of Corrections. Zoll appealed, and a division of the court of appeals affirmed his convictions in a unanimous, unpublished opinion. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine: (1) the proper remedy when an appellate court concludes that the trial court incorrectly failed to disclose certain documents from a responding officer’s personnel file; and (2) whether replaying a 911 recording for the jury in the courtroom during deliberations is a critical stage of the proceeding requiring the defendant’s presence. After review, the Supreme Court held found court of appeals erred in assessing whether the nondisclosure of documents in a responding officer’s personnel file affected the outcome of the trial: the court of appeals should have remanded the case for the trial court to disclose the improperly withheld documents to the parties and for petitioner to demonstrate a reasonable probability that had the documents been disclosed to him prior to trial, the result of the proceeding might have been different. Furthermore, the Supreme Court concluded that even if playing the 911 recording during jury deliberations could have been deemed a critical stage of the proceedings, petitioner's absence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Court declined to address whether the appellate court correctly decided whether petitioner's absence did not occur during a critical stage. Accordingly, the Court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded with instructions to return this case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Zoll v. Colorado" on Justia Law