Decided October 23, 2014
City and County of Denver District Court No. 08CR25. Honorable Christina M. Habas, Judge.
John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Rebecca A. Jones, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
Joffe Law Firm, Danyel S. Joffe, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.
Opinion by JUDGE FOX. Ashby and Plank[*], JJ., concur.
Opinion Modified and Petition for Rehearing DENIED
[¶1] On remand from the Colorado Supreme Court, we review our previous holding reversing Defendant Max Anthony Maestas's criminal convictions in light of our supreme court's recent decision in People v. Novotny, 320 P.3d 1194, 2014 CO 18. We reverse the convictions and remand the case for a new trial.
I. Procedural Background
[¶2] A jury found Maestas guilty of aggravated robbery, menacing, and eluding police. Maestas appealed, arguing that the trial court had erred by denying his challenges for cause to two prospective jurors and by denying his request for new counsel. See People v. Maestas, (Colo. App. No. 09CA2144, Sept. 13, 2012) (not published pursuant to C.A.R. 35(f)) ( Maestas I ). A division of this court determined that the trial court had indeed erred by denying one of Maestas's for-cause challenges. Id. Applying then-applicable Colorado Supreme Court precedent, the division overturned Maestas's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. Id. The division did not address Maestas's other claims of error.
[¶3] The reversal was based on the rule announced in People v. Macrander, 828 P.2d 234 (Colo. 1992). Macrander held that a criminal defendant is entitled to automatic reversal of his convictions where, as here, a jury found the defendant guilty after (1) the trial court erroneously denied a challenge for cause to a prospective juror; (2) the defendant used a peremptory challenge to excuse that prospective juror; and (3) the defendant ultimately used all of his peremptory challenges. See id. at 244. In that situation, the Macrander court reasoned, the trial court's erroneous ruling deprives the defendant of
the number of peremptory challenges guaranteed by statute, impairing his ability to control the ...