In Re People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff.
Saul Chavez, Defendant.
Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21 . District Court, City and
County of Denver, Case No. 14CR2118. Honorable Elizabeth A.
original proceeding, the supreme court considers whether a
trial court may order a third party to allow a criminal
defendant discovery access to the third party's home.
Relying on People in the Interest of E.G., 2016 CO 19, 368
P.3d 946, the court concludes that the trial court had no
authority to order the alleged victim to allow the defendant
or his representatives into her home to investigate the scene
of the alleged crime.
Plaintiff: Mitchell R. Morrissey, District Attorney, Second
Judicial District, Robert J. Whitley, Deputy District
Attorney, Denver, Colorado.
Defendant: Edward Dale Parrish PC, Dale Parrish, Todd Narum,
Amici Curiae Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center and National
Crime Victim Law Institute: Kathleen M. Dwyer, Denver,
JUSTICE RICE delivered the Opinion of the Court. JUSTICE
GABRIEL concurs in the judgment.
[¶1] In this original proceeding, we are
asked to decide whether a trial court has the authority to
grant a defendant's discovery motion seeking access to
the private residence of a non-party--here, the alleged
victim. Because the trial court lacked the
authority to order such access, we hold that it abused its
discretion. We therefore make the rule absolute.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶2] The defendant, Saul Chavez, has been
charged with one count of sexual assault. The alleged victim
lives in a home with other members of her family. The People
allege that Chavez, a family friend, had been allowed to stay
the night at the victim's house after drinking alcohol
late into the evening. The People further allege that Chavez
a bedroom where the victim was asleep, where he engaged in
sexual intercourse with her, without her consent, while she
was physically helpless.
[¶3] On December 23, 2014, Chavez filed a
motion requesting court-ordered access to the home--the scene
of the alleged crime. He argued that he needed access in
order to " be able to investigate and photograph the
property for his defense." Chavez cited Crim. P.
16(I)(d) in support of his motion, arguing that, under that
rule, the court had " discretionary ...