People v. Smith.
2024 CO 3. No. 22SC562. Post-Conviction Relief—Abandonment.
January 22, 2024
In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether (1) whether a division of the court of appeals reversibly erred in determining that Smith preserved all of the claims that he had raised in a pro se Crim. P. 35(c) motion, despite his not pursuing some of those claims in the later briefing on his motion and at the postconviction hearing; (2) whether counsel may abandon some of a defendant’s pro se Crim. P. 35(c) claims without first obtaining the defendant’s informed consent; and (3) whether abandonment of individual postconviction claims requires a showing of intent to do so.
The Court concluded that Smith abandoned the claims that he ceased pursuing and therefore the division erred in concluding that all of his pro se claims were preserved. The Court further concluded that because the “captain of the ship” doctrine allocates to counsel the authority to make strategic decisions, including which claims to pursue, counsel may abandon some, although not all, of a defendant’s pro se Crim. P. 35(c) claims without the client’s informed consent.
Finally, the Court noted that, on the facts of the case, Smith intended to abandon the pro se claims that he had ceased pursuing, and, thus, the Court did not need to decide whether the abandonment of individual postconviction claims requires a showing of intent to abandon such claims.
Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the division below.