The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellant, In the Interest of G.S.S., Juvenile-Appellee.
Plata County District Court No. 17JD15 Honorable Todd P.
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Joseph G. Michaels, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Ryann S. Hardman,
Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
1 The prosecution appeals from the district court's order
dismissing its case against G.S.S. for violating his
statutory speedy trial rights. The prosecution argues that
the sixty-day statutory speedy trial period was waived or
extended by G.S.S.'s requests for continuances, and that
if there was a speedy trial violation, dismissal is not the
proper remedy under section 19-2-509(4)(b), C.R.S. 2018. We
reject both contentions and affirm.
2 G.S.S. was arrested and charged with two delinquent acts
for threatening to shoot students at his middle school. He
was placed in secure detention.
3 At the initial detention hearing on May 2, 2017, the court
ordered that G.S.S. be held without bond, pending
psychological and risk-assessment evaluations and the
establishment of a release plan.
4 Numerous hearings were held over the next several months
regarding the status of G.S.S.'s release from detention.
Then, on August 9, 2017, G.S.S.'s counsel requested a
hearing to "determine and comply with" G.S.S.'s
speedy trial rights under section 19-2-509(4)(b). According
to that statute, juveniles are to be brought to trial within
sixty days of the entry of a no-bond order. Defense counsel
then moved to dismiss the case for violation of G.S.S.'s
statutory speedy trial rights.
5 After a hearing, the court granted the motion and dismissed
the case against G.S.S. with prejudice.
6 Our first task in deciding whether G.S.S. waived or
otherwise extended his right to a speedy trial is to identify
those statutory provisions that define G.S.S.'s statutory
speedy trial rights. We must then construe and apply those
statutes, reviewing the district court's interpretation
de novo. See Mosley v. People, 2017 CO 20, ¶
15; People v. Walker, 252 P.3d 551, 552 (Colo. App.
7 When construing a statute, our primary goal is to ascertain
and give effect to the legislative intent. See People in
Interest of T.A., 91 P.3d 473, 474 (Colo. App. 2004).
"In determining legislative intent, a reviewing court
should look to the language of the statute, giving effect to
words and phrases according to their plain and ordinary
meaning." Id. If the language is clear and
unambiguous, we apply it as written. Id. If,
however, the language is reasonably susceptible to more than
one interpretation, it is ambiguous and we may look to
intrinsic and extrinsic aids to guide our interpretation.
See In re People in Interest of A.A., 2013 CO 65,
Juvenile's Statutory Speedy Trial Rights
8 There are several statutes in the Children's Code that
cross-reference one another and are relevant to resolving the
issue of whether G.S.S.'s right to a speedy trial was
violated. We first describe how these statutes work together.
9 Section 19-2-108(2)(d), C.R.S. 2018 (the juvenile speedy
trial statute), sets forth the timelines within which certain
hearings or events in a delinquency case must occur and
requires that section 18-1-405, C.R.S. 2018 (the adult speedy
trial statute applicable to adults), and Crim. P. 48(b)
govern a juvenile's speedy trial rights. Specifically,
for an adjudicatory trial, section 19-2-108(2)(d)
incorporates the speedy trial period set forth in section
19-2-708(1), C.R.S. 2018, the statute that governs the entry
of a plea in a delinquency case. Together these two statutes
require that a juvenile be tried within sixty days of the
entry of a not guilty plea unless a jury trial has been
requested under section 19-2-107, C.R.S. 2018, or the
juvenile has explicitly or implicitly waived or extended the
speedy trial period. But when a juvenile is held in detention
due to a no-bond hold order, these generally applicable
speedy trial statutes are modified.
10 Section 19-2-508, C.R.S. 2018, describes how and when the
court should determine if a juvenile may be released from or
placed in detention. And, consistent with sections 19-2-108
and -708, discussed above, it requires that any juvenile who
is detained without bail must be tried within sixty days
unless a jury trial has been requested. See §
19-2-508(3)(a)(IV)(D). If we looked no further, we might
conclude that unless a jury trial has been requested, a
juvenile ordered to be held without bond must be tried within
sixty days of entering a not guilty plea. But we cannot
ignore section 19-2-509. See A.S. v. People, 2013 CO
63, ¶ 10 ("When construing a statute, we ascertain
and give effect to the General Assembly's intent, reading
applicable statutory provisions as a whole in order to accord
consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all their
parts."). In essence, section 19-2-508 reaffirms the
sixty-day speedy trial period applicable to all non-jury
adjudicatory trials. Section 19-2-509(4)(b) (the juvenile
bail statute) then describes that for those juveniles held
without bond, the running of the speedy trial clock is
triggered by entry of a not guilty plea or a no-bond
hold order, "whichever date is earlier."
11 Because section 19-2-508 references the general speedy
trial statutes triggered by the entry of a plea of not
guilty, and section 19-2-509 specifically addresses how the
speedy trial clock is triggered by either a not guilty plea
or a no-bond hold order, the statutes seemingly conflict.
However, to the extent that the two statutes conflict, we
should attempt to harmonize them to effectuate the
legislative intent. See T.A., 91 P.3d at 474. And,
generally, the more specific statute governs over the more
general. § 2-4-205, C.R.S. 2018; accord Gessler v.
Doty, 2012 COA 4, ¶ 13. Hence, because it is the
more specific statute, section 19-2-509 governs over section
12 Section 19-2-509 does not otherwise modify provisions of
the generally applicable juvenile speedy trial statutes;
therefore, the other provisions of those statutes apply. And
because section 18-1-405's provisions are not
inconsistent with the juvenile speedy trial statutes, both
the tolling and enforcement provisions of the criminal speedy
trial statute, including whether the speedy trial period has
been tolled or waived, are applicable. See People in
Interest of J.M.N., 39 P.3d 1261, 1263 (Colo. App. 2001)
(holding that the criminal speedy trial statute and related
law apply when considering whether a juvenile's right to
speedy trial has been violated); People in Interest of
G.W.R., 943 P.2d 466, 467 (Colo. App. 1997). With this
background, we now turn to the prosecution's arguments
that G.S.S.'s or his counsel's actions extended the
speedy trial period beyond sixty days.
13 The court entered a no-bond hold order at G.S.S.'s
initial detention hearing on May 2, 2017. Thus, according to
the plain language of the bail statute, G.S.S. was entitled
to a trial within sixty days of that date, or July 1, 2017.
The court did not hold a trial within that sixty-day limit.
In fact, at no point did the court even set a trial date. But
is that attributable to actions taken by G.S.S. that extended
his speedy trial period? Our answer is "no."
14 The prosecution makes several arguments regarding why
G.S.S. is at fault for his trial not occurring before his
speedy trial period ran. First, it argues that a request for
a jury trial was required to trigger the running of
G.S.S.'s speedy trial clock. But even when entitled to
one, a juvenile is not required to request a jury trial.
See § 19-2-107 (providing that a juvenile or
the district attorney may demand a jury trial under certain
circumstances, but failure to demand a jury trial constitutes
a waiver of any such right). And a failure to request a jury
trial has no bearing on the applicable speedy trial period
for a non-jury trial. Further, section 19-2-509, by its
explicit terms, does not require that a jury trial be
15 Second, the prosecution argues that when the tolling
provisions of section 18-1-405 are applied, the sixty-day
speedy trial period was either extended or waived when
G.S.S.'s counsel requested continuances of the various
court hearings. But not all defense actions that result in a
continuance of a hearing date waive, toll, or extend a speedy
trial period. See Tongish v. Arapahoe Cty. Court,
775 P.2d 63 (Colo. App. 1989) (holding that only delays that
impede the statutory goal of bringing a defendant to trial
within the statutory speedy trial period are excludable from
computation of the speedy trial deadline; and procedural
interruptions, such as a continued pretrial conference, that
do not delay a trial beyond the applicable speedy trial
period are not automatically excludable without the
defendant's express waiver of speedy trial rights). When
we consider the circumstances of each hearing at which
G.S.S.'s counsel requested a continuance and apply the
tolling and waiver provisions of section 18-1-405, we agree
with the district court that G.S.S. did nothing to delay the
setting or occurrence of a trial within the sixty-day speedy
trial period. The failure to timely hold the trial was simply
the result of the prosecution's and the court's
failure to hear the speedy trial clock ticking.
16 G.S.S.'s counsel sought his release from detention at
the initial detention hearing and every hearing thereafter.
Although a release plan had been devised by staff from the
pretrial release program, the pretrial staff, the court, and
the prosecution were unwilling to implement the plan until a
risk assessment and safety evaluation of G.S.S. had been
completed. The continuances requested at each hearing between
the initial May 2nd detention hearing and July 11, 2017, the
date of the first hearing after the sixty-day speedy trial
period had run, focused on the delays in the completion of
the risk and mental health assessment and evaluation that
would facilitate G.S.S.'s release from detention. As of
that July 11th date when the evaluation was completed, the
court had consistently held to its position that until the
assessment and evaluation were completed and reviewed, it
would not reconsider G.S.S.'s repeated requests for
release from detention.
17 It is true that while waiting for the risk assessment to
be completed, the court asked whether plea negotiations were
occurring and suggested that the pending evaluation might be
helpful in that regard. G.S.S.'s counsel acknowledged
that any assessment or evaluation would likely also assist
with plea negotiations. But counsel was not the driving force
behind and did not acquiesce in the delays. Instead, she
continually focused on the primary goal of obtaining
G.S.S.'s release from detention and did not request any
delay in setting a trial date or holding a trial. After
reviewing the record, the district court acknowledged in its
dismissal order that its prior recollection as to why the
hearings were continued was in error. It found that the
delays were for the purpose of getting an assessment and an
evaluation to allow G.S.S. to be released and that there was
no reason why the trial could not have been set to occur
while the completion of these tasks was pending:
. "It was a little bit different
situation than I had originally thought, where your attorney
was attempting to help you get released. And [the District
Attorney], I'm sure she's accurate when she says it
was designed also to potentially help you get a more
favorable plea agreement. But you ...