County District Court No. 16CR142 Honorable Thomas R. Ensor,
J. Weiser, Attorney General, William G. Kozeliski, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
Offices of M. Colin Bresee, M. Colin Bresee, Denver,
Colorado; The Blair Law Office, LLC, David Blair, Denver,
Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.
The court, sua sponte, having considered the briefs in this
case orders that the case is remanded to the district court
for the limited purposes of (1) determining whether defendant
invoked his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice when
he moved to continue; and, if so, (2) weighing the judicial
efficiency and integrity factors articulated in People v.
Brown, 2014 CO 25, ¶24, 322 P.3d 214,
against the defendant's right to counsel of choice, which
shall be done with all due speed.
Defendant, Ruben Jesus Sifuentes, was charged with first
degree criminal trespass, aggravated sexual assault on a
child, and sexual assault on a child. He was tried on the
latter two charges, and the trial ended with a hung jury. In
a separate proceeding, he pleaded guilty to second degree
criminal trespass and the prosecution dismissed the first
degree trespass charge.
Sifuentes was retried on the sex assault charges. Six days
before his second trial, he asked for a continuance. His
appointed attorney told the district court:
His family has been in touch with a private attorney that
they would like to hire. My understanding is they have most
of the retainers saved, there's just a very small
amount of money, just 100 or couple hundred dollars, that
needs to be saved to hire that private attorney. That is
the attorney that he wants to represent him at the trial.
court, noting that (1) the case was "very old"; (2)
"a lot of people on both sides" needed resolution;
and (3) it had not heard from an attorney wanting to enter an
appearance, denied the request.
Sifuentes then spoke for himself in the following exchange:
SIFUENTES: Can the attorneys show up on the trial date?
THE COURT: No, sir.
SIFUENTES: So I just have to go with the public
THE COURT: At this point in time I'm not granting the
motion to continue.
SIFUENTES: I don't want this — this is the
representation I want — representation I want. I
want the attorney I want to hire.
THE COURT: Well, you should have done that a long time ago.
This case has been pending for more than a year.
Sifuentes raised the issue again on the first day of trial.
He told the district court that he was not happy with his
public defender and that he thought there was a conflict with
his representation because he did not agree with the
attorney's tactical decisions. The court found that there
was no conflict, noted that no other counsel was present, and
stated that it would not continue the case. Sifuentes's
choices were to represent himself or to proceed with
On appeal, Sifuentes contends that the district court abused
its discretion when it denied his motion to continue based
entirely on expedience, ...