Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21 Douglas County District
Court Case No. 16CR28 Honorable Paul A. King, Judge
Attorneys for Plaintiff: George H. Brauchler, District
Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial District Richard Orman, Senior
Deputy District Attorney Centennial, Colorado
Attorneys for Defendant: Zonies Law LLC Sean Connelly Denver,
Colorado Eytan Nielsen LLC Iris Eytan Denver, Colorado The
McGuire Law Office, LLC Kathleen McGuire Denver, Colorado
This companion case to People v. Johnson, 2016 CO
69, __P.3d__, raises two questions. First, does a trial court
have statutory authority to order a juvenile charged as an
adult to undergo a state-administered mental health
assessment for a reverse-transfer proceeding? We answered
that question in the negative in Johnson, but we do
not answer that question here because it is hypothetical-the
question is not based on the facts of this case. Second, is a
trial court required, before a mental health assessment, to
provide a juvenile with warnings based on the Fifth Amendment
right against self-incrimination? We do not answer that
question as well, because (1) Higgins consented to the
evaluation while represented by counsel, and (2) any claims
that ineffective assistance of counsel vitiated Higgins's
consent are premature. Therefore, we vacate the order to show
cause and remand the case for further proceedings.
Facts and Procedural History
This controversy began when the petitioner-defendant, Brooke
Higgins, was a juvenile respondent in front of a magistrate
judge on December 17, 2015. The district attorney requested,
and Higgins's then-defense-counsel agreed to, a
state-administered mental health assessment of Higgins.
Because the parties agreed, the magistrate judge ordered the
mental health assessment.
On January 14, 2016, now in front of trial court Judge King,
the district attorney dismissed the juvenile charges against
Higgins and charged her as an adult with two counts of
conspiracy to commit murder. Higgins sought, and the trial
court granted, a reverse-transfer hearing to determine
whether she should remain in adult court or return to
juvenile court. On January 21, 2016, before the
reverse-transfer hearing occurred, Higgins, represented by
different counsel, filed a motion to suppress the mental
health assessment and disqualify Judge King. Judge King
denied both requests, reasoning that, notwithstanding the
parties' stipulation to the state mental health
assessment, there was independent statutory authority for the
magistrate judge to order a state mental health assessment of
Higgins then petitioned this court for relief under C.A.R.
21, arguing that (1) the trial court lacked authority to
order a juvenile charged as an adult to undergo a mental
health assessment for a reverse-transfer proceeding, and (2)
the United States Constitution precludes such orders and
requires the trial court to advise a juvenile of her Fifth
Amendment rights in such an assessment. We issued a rule to
"This court will generally elect to hear C.A.R. 21 cases
that raise issues of first impression and that are of
significant public importance." People v.
Steen, 2014 CO 9, ¶ 8, 318 P.3d 487, 490. We
granted review in this case as a companion to People v.
Johnson, 2016 CO 69. This case raises two issues of
first impression. First, one of the issues we considered in
Johnson, whether a trial court may order a juvenile
who requested a reverse-transfer hearing to submit to a
mental health assessment by a state doctor. Second, whether
the Constitution requires a trial court to advise a juvenile
of her Fifth Amendment rights before such an assessment.
¶6 These issues are of significant public importance
because they will impact when a district attorney files adult
charges against a juvenile and when a trial court may order
mental health assessments for juveniles. Therefore, original
relief is appropriate in this case.
Standard of Review
The interpretation of statutes and the United States
Constitution are questions of law, which we review de novo.
See Bostelman ...