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People v. Yakas

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

August 1, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Joshua Theodore Yakas, Defendant-Appellant.

          Arapahoe County District Court No. 15CR3031 Honorable Natalie T. Chase, Judge.

          Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Brock J. Swanson, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Tara N. Jorfald, Alternate Defense Counsel, Lakewood, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

          ORDER

          FREYRE JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 In this statutory interpretation case, we are asked to decide whether the right to a speedy disposition guaranteed by the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act (UMDDA), §§ 16-14-101 to -108, C.R.S. 2018, can be waived by counsel or whether a defendant must personally waive this right. We hold that this statutory right may be waived by counsel and that counsel may also waive the required statutory advisement of rights. We further hold that when the defendant is present for counsel's waiver and does not voice an objection to it, he cannot later complain that his UMDDA rights were violated.

         ¶ 2 Defendant, Joshua Theodore Yakas, appeals the trial court's order denying his motion to dismiss his criminal case for violation of the UMDDA. We affirm.

         I. Background

         ¶ 3 In October 2015, the police arrested Mr. Yakas for violating parole in an unrelated case. While incarcerated, the state charged him, on November 3, 2015, with three counts of enticement of a child, three counts of attempted inducement of child prostitution, three counts of attempted sexual assault on a child, three counts of indecent exposure - (third or subsequent offense), and habitual criminality. Mr. Yakas appeared with court-appointed counsel at his first appearance on November 9, 2015. After waiving his right to a speedy preliminary hearing twice, Mr. Yakas proceeded to a preliminary hearing on January 13, 2016. The court found probable cause and bound the case over for arraignment on February 19, 2016. On February 19, the parties agreed to continue arraignment to April 29, 2016.

         ¶ 4 On February 29, 2016, Mr. Yakas filed a pro se "Petition for Speedy Disposition Under [the UMDDA]." As relevant here, paragraph four of the pro se petition states:

4. The defendant, does not waive any rights of limits set forth under or in this act. If, at any time, the defendant chooses to waive any of these, it shall be himself, not through council [sic], by explicitly stating, in writing for the court or in open court, that he, knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily waives his right under this act.

         ¶ 5 Upon receiving the petition, the court rescheduled arraignment for March 25, 2016. As well, on March 17, 2016, counsel for Mr. Yakas sent the following email to the court and the district attorney:

I just wanted to let everyone know that Mr. Yakas is going to be withdrawing the detainer and we will be asking that the April 29 arraignment date remain. We're fine with Mr. Yakas being brought in on 3/25 to do that on the record. Additionally, Mr. Yakas has been held at the Arapahoe County Jail, so unless he is going to be moved, we do not need a writ prepared.

         ¶ 6 When Mr. Yakas refused to appear on March 25, defense counsel explained that Mr. Yakas was "confused about the court date" and asked that the matter be reset for March 31, 2016, "because he's going to withdraw that detainer [sic]."

         ¶ 7 Mr. Yakas appeared with counsel on March 31. The trial court asked whether "[defendant] was going to withdraw th[e] request [for speedy disposition] and . . . wanted to keep the arraignment date that we currently had set of April 29th." Counsel responded, "That is correct." The court then asked, "Do you wish any further advisement on the record with respect to Mr. Yakas's withdrawal of request for speedy detainer?" Both defense counsel and the district attorney responded, "No." Mr. Yakas remained silent. The trial court then found that the request for speedy disposition had been withdrawn and continued the matter to the April arraignment date.

         ¶ 8 After several continued arraignments, made at the defense's request, Mr. Yakas entered a not guilty plea on August 1, 2016. But the parties eventually reached a disposition, and on December 15, 2016, Mr. Yakas pleaded guilty to several counts in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining counts and a stipulated sentence of twenty years in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC). The court accepted Mr. Yakas's guilty pleas and sentenced him accordingly.

         ¶ 9 Around the time he pleaded guilty, Mr. Yakas filed a pro se motion to dismiss his case for violation of the UMDDA. The motion asserted, in part, that counsel's withdrawal of the UMDDA petition on March 31 was "against his request" and constituted an invalid waiver of his rights, thereby depriving the court of jurisdiction to accept his guilty pleas. Mr. Yakas did not mention this pro se motion at the providency hearing, and nothing in the record shows that the court or counsel knew of its existence when Mr. Yakas pleaded guilty.

         ¶ 10 Following the providency hearing on December 15, the trial court issued an order requesting clarification concerning whether the motion to dismiss should be ruled on in light of the guilty pleas. After receiving no response, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss as moot, on December 21, 2016.

         II. Counsel's Withdrawal of the UMDDA Petition ...


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