The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of J.D., Juvenile-Appellant.
County District Court No. 14JD547 Honorable Thomas J.
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Kevin E. McReynolds,
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
Noble Law Firm, LLC, Tara Jorfald, Lakewood, Colorado, for
1 Does a magistrate who accepted a juvenile's guilty plea
have jurisdiction to consider the juvenile's motion to
withdraw his plea based on allegations of ineffective
assistance of plea counsel?
2 The magistrate here granted J.D.'s motion to withdraw
his plea. On the People's petition to review the
magistrate's order, the district court vacated the
magistrate's order for lack of jurisdiction. J.D.
appeals, and addressing this novel issue, we hold that the
magistrate had jurisdiction and accordingly reverse the
district court's order.
Facts and Procedural Background
3 J.D., represented by counsel, appeared before a magistrate
in a delinquency case. He signed an "advisement of
rights in a juvenile delinquency proceeding" and pleaded
guilty to acts that if committed by an adult would have
constituted second degree criminal trespass. The magistrate
accepted the plea and entered a one-year deferred
adjudication. Then the magistrate gave the prosecution
ninety-one days to seek restitution and J.D. twenty-one days
4 After the prosecution sought restitution and J.D. failed to
file an objection within the deadline, the magistrate ordered
restitution.The magistrate denied as untimely J.D.'s
motion to reconsider the restitution order.
5 Four months later and through new counsel, J.D. moved to
withdraw his guilty plea under Crim. P. 32(d). The motion
alleged ineffective assistance of plea counsel for improperly
advising J.D. as to the likely restitution amount and the
bankruptcy consequences of restitution, as well as failing to
formally withdraw as J.D.'s counsel.
6 Following an evidentiary hearing at which plea counsel
testified, and over the prosecution's objection, the
magistrate granted the motion and vacated the plea.
7 The prosecution timely sought district court review under
C.R.M. 7(a)(1) and section 19-1-108(5.5), C.R.S. 2017.
Applying C.R.M. 7(a)(1), the district court held that the
magistrate did not have jurisdiction to hear J.D.'s
motion, and that J.D.'s sole remedy for ineffective
assistance of counsel was to file a petition for district
court review under that rule. Then it concluded that because
he had failed to do so, he could not obtain relief under
Crim. P. 32(d). II. The Magistrate Had Jurisdiction to
Consider J.D.'s Crim. P.32(d) Motion
8 Section 19-1-108, C.R.S. 2017 provides in relevant part:
(1) The juvenile court may appoint one or more magistrates
to hear any case or matter under the court's
jurisdiction, except where a jury trial has been
requested pursuant to section 19-2-107.
. . . .
(3)(a.5) Magistrates shall conduct hearings in the manner
provided for the hearing of cases by the court. During the
initial advisement of the rights of any party, the magistrate
shall inform the party that, except as provided in this
subsection (3), he or she has the right to a hearing before
the judge in the first instance and that he or she may waive
that right but that, by waiving that right, he or she is
bound by the findings and recommendations of the magistrate,
subject to a request for review as provided in subsection
(5.5) of this section.
Standard of Review
9 "We interpret our rules of civil procedure de novo and
apply principles of statutory construction." In
Interest of M.K.D.A.L., 2014 COA 148, ¶ 5 (quoting
Willhite v. Rodriguez-Cera, 2012 CO 29, ¶ 9);
see Reno v. Marks, 2015 CO 33, ¶ 20. In
interpreting statutes, we aim to ascertain and give effect to
the legislature's intent. St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist
RE-1J v. A.R.L., 2014 CO 33, ¶ 10. "To do so,
we look to the plain meaning of the statutory language and
consider it within the context of the statute as a whole. If
the statutory language is clear, we apply it as such."
Lewis v. Taylor, 2016 CO 48, ¶ 20 (citing
Denver Post Corp. v. Ritter, 255 P.3d 1083, 1088
10 We are also instructed to construe statutes and rules to
avoid unconstitutional results. Lopez v. People, 113
P.3d 713, 728 (Colo. 2005) ("We must construe statutes
to avoid constitutional conflicts if possible.");
State, Dep't of Labor & Emp't v. Esser,
30 P.3d 189, 194 (Colo. 2001) ("If alternative
constructions of a statute - one constitutional, the other
unconstitutional - may apply to the case under review, we
choose the one that renders the statute constitutional or
avoids the constitutional issue." (citing People v.
Hickman, 988 P.2d 628, 637 (Colo. 1999))).
11 A Crim. P. 32(d) motion premised on a claim of ineffective
assistance of plea counsel is a proceeding designed to
determine if a plea previously entered was constitutionally
defective, allowing the defendant to withdraw the plea. The
district court held that a juvenile whose plea was accepted
by a magistrate is prohibited from filing such a motion, even
though a juvenile whose case is heard by a judge is free to
do so, and even though an adult defendant has a right to file
a Crim. P. 32(d) motion based on the same grounds.
12 The district court relied on C.R.M. 7(a) for its
conclusion that the magistrate did not have jurisdiction to
decide J.D.'s Crim. P. 32(d) motion. We find it
unnecessary to decide whether C.R.M. 7(a) (which governs
review of a magistrate's order entered when consent of
the parties is not required) or C.R.M. 7(b) (which governs
review of a magistrate's orders entered when consent of
the parties is required) is the applicable rule. The