Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21, La Plata County
District Court Case No. 18CR644, Honorable Suzanne Fairchild
for Plaintiff: Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Emily B.
Buckley, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado
Attorneys for Defendant: Megan A. Ring, Public Defender, Anne
Kathryn Woods, Deputy Public Defender, Durango, Colorado
District courts enjoy ample discretion in managing cases
before trial, but that discretion is not unfettered. In
criminal cases, a district court may not rely on its
case-management discretion to order disclosures
that exceed the discovery authorized by Rule 16 of the
Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure. Nor may a court require
disclosures that infringe on an accuseds constitutional
The district court in this case sua sponte ordered the
parties to exchange exhibits thirty days before trial. The
defendant, Joshua Edward Kilgore, protested, but the district
court overruled his objection. Kilgore then filed a C.A.R. 21
petition, and we issued a rule to show cause. Because the
district courts order finds no support in Rule 16 and
arguably infringes on Kilgores constitutional rights, we
make the rule absolute.
I. Procedural History
The prosecution has charged Kilgore with two counts of felony
sexual assault. At arraignment, Kilgore pled not guilty to
the charges, and the district court scheduled the matter for
a jury trial.
In the minute order it issued following the arraignment, the
court indicated, among other things, that "exhibits
[were] to be exchanged 30 days before trial"
("disclosure requirement" or "disclosure
order"). The disclosure requirement was not prompted by
a partys request and appears to have been part of the
courts standard case-management practice. A couple of months
later, Kilgore filed an objection, arguing that the
disclosure requirement violated his attorneys
confidentiality obligations, the attorney-client privilege,
the attorney work-product doctrine, and his due process
rights (including his right to make the prosecution meet its
burden of proof, his right to a fair trial, and his right to
the effective assistance of counsel). Further, noted Kilgore,
Rule 16 neither requires him to disclose, nor entitles the
prosecution to receive, his exhibits before trial.
Although acknowledging the difficulty of ruling in a vacuum,
the court ultimately overruled Kilgores objection. The court
reasoned that requiring Kilgore to disclose his exhibits
prior to trial would "foster[ ] efficiency and allow[ ]
for a fair trial" without running afoul of his rights.
Any exhibits not disclosed before trial, warned the court,
would "not be used at trial."
Kilgore sought reconsideration of this ruling, but the court
declined to alter it. Thereafter, Kilgore submitted a sealed
motion detailing the specific reasons he opposed disclosing a
particular exhibit. Despite having this additional
information, though, the court stood by its earlier ruling.
It reiterated that "[t]rading trial exhibits such as the
one discussed" in the sealed motion would "promote[
] efficiency at trial." The court reminded ...