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49AA495170D89428872586D9007DCDC7 Hearing Summary




PUBLIC
BILL SUMMARY For HB21-1309

HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
Date May 18, 2021      
Location Old State Library



HB21-1309 - Committee Discussion Only


04:54:10 PM  

Representatives Roberts and Carver, prime sponsors, presented House Bill 21-1309, concerning measures related to permitting continuing a criminal trial because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Representative Roberts explained the effect of the bill and discussed its need. Representative Carver provided additional input regarding the bill. Representative Roberts responded to questions regarding how bond hearings and the granting of bond intersect with the bill's allowance for continuance of trial, and the number of backlogged criminal cases in Colorado's court system. Discussion ensued regarding the length of time that a defendant would be in jail awaiting trial under the bill.

05:11:14 PM  

Michael Dougherty, representing himself, testified in support of HB 21-1309. Christian Champagne, representing the Sixth Judicial District Attorney's Office, testified in support of the bill. Matt Karzen, representing the Colorado District Attorneys' Council, testified in support of the bill. Discussion ensued regarding the timeline from a defendant's arrest to trial and how the bill would affect that timeline, and the effect of rules promulgated by the Colorado Supreme Court to address the COVID pandemic. Discussion followed regarding the number of trials that can be conducted in a given judicial district, and how other states are accommodating a trial backlog. Discussion turned to the stakeholder process in crafting the bill, and protections in the bill that prevent a defendant from being incarcerated for an additional six months. The district attorneys then responded to questions regarding the number of defendants held without bond in their jurisdictions.

05:52:32 PM  
Joseph Michaels, representing the Attorney General's Office, testified in support of HB 21-1309.

Beth McCann, representing herself, testified in support of the bill.

Mr. Michaels responded to questions regarding how federal courts are accommodating the COVID-related criminal case backlog. Ms. McCann provided input on this issue. Discussion ensued regarding rules promulgated by the Colorado Supreme Court to help alleviate the backlog.

06:12:42 PM  
Mitch Ahnstedt, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Justin Bogan, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Albert Singleton, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Sarah Quinn, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Discussion ensued regarding how cases might be prioritized to ensure trials happen in a speedier fashion. Mr. Singleton responded to questions regarding how judges might assist in this regard, and his concerns considering the relative lack of a backlog in his district. Mr. Ahnstedt provided further input on the latter question. Discussion ensued regarding the level of case backlog in the panelists' respective districts. Discussion followed regarding how the panelists' jurisdictions have used backlog-related rules promulgated by the Colorado Supreme Court.

07:00:40 PM  
Thea Reiff, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Ray Torres, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Rosalie Roy, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Steve Colvin, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

07:19:16 PM  
James Karbach, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Demetria Trujillo, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Nicole Collins, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Ara Ohanian, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Discussion ensued regarding how to improve the bill, and how to prioritize cases already continued due to the pandemic.

07:42:53 PM  
Kathryn Hay, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Brian Johnson, representing Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Patrick Crane, representing the Office of the State Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Molly Hamsher, representing the Office of the State Public Defender, testified in opposition to the bill.

Ms. Hamsher responded to questions regarding the timeline for trials in her judicial district. Discussion ensued regarding potential solutions to judicial backlogs.

08:02:13 PM  
Daniel Zettler, representing the Office of the State Public Defender, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Emily Tofte Nestaval, representing the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center, testified on the bill from an "amend" position.

08:09:51 PM  
Phil Cherner, representing the Sam Cary Bar Association, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Darren Cantor, representing the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel, testified in opposition to the bill.

Tristan Gorman, representing the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, testified in opposition to the bill.

Discussion ensued regarding how the bill applies to out-of-custody and in-custody defendants.

08:29:20 PM  
Steven Vasconcellos, representing the Judicial Branch, testified in support of HB 21-1309.

Michael Martinez, representing the Judicial Branch, testified in support of the bill.

Michelle Amico, representing the Judicial Branch, testified in support of the bill.

Discussion ensued regarding prioritization of jury trials, and the mechanism available to the courts for continuing cases absent passage of the bill and with the expiration of a Supreme Court rule allowing continuance. Discussion followed regarding whether the bill requires granting of a continuance when a prosecutor requests it, rather than it being discretionary for the court.

09:10:52 PM  
Mary-Claire Mulligan, representing herself, testified in opposition to HB 21-1309.

Ms. Mulligan responded to questions regarding how COVID-related trial backlogs have been addressed in other jurisdictions.

09:19:09 PM  
Chairman Weissman laid over HB 21-1309.