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Clark v. People.

2024 CO 55. Impartial Jury—Equal Protection—Challenge for Cause—Structural Error—Extraneous Prejudicial Information—Juror Testimony.

July 1, 2024


In this case, the Supreme Court addressed whether a trial court’s erroneous denial of a Black criminal defendant’s challenge for cause of a potential juror who expressed racial bias constitutes structural error. Following People v. Novotny, 2014 CO 18, 320 P.3d 1194, and Vigil v. People, 2019 CO 105, 455 P.3d 332, the Court held that where, as here, the trial court’s erroneous denial of a challenge for cause is made in good faith and does not result in the juror serving on the jury, the error is not structural and is subject to harmless error review. The Court concluded that any error here was harmless. The Court also concluded that the trial court’s error did not violate Clark’s right to equal protection.

Separately, the Court held that a juror’s comment recalling that during her previous jury service the judge told the jury it must deliberate until it reached a unanimous verdict was not “extraneous prejudicial information” under CRE 606(b). Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment.

The full opinion is available at https://www.coloradojudicial.gov/sites/default/files/2024-07/22SC313_0.pdfhttps://www.coloradojudicial.gov/sites/default/files/2024-07/22SC313_0.pdf.

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