In re People v. Sherwood.
2021 CO 61. No. 21SA85. Declaration of Mistrial under Crim. P. 24(c)(4)—COVID-19 Pandemic—Tolling of Speedy Trial Period under CRS § 18-1-405(6)(e)—Computation of New Speedy Trial Deadline Following Declaration of Mistrial.
June 28, 2021
In 2020, the Supreme Court approved the addition of paragraph (c)(4) to Crim. P. 24 (Trial Jurors) to permit a trial court, either upon motion of a party or on its own motion, to declare a mistrial at any time before trial on the ground that a fair jury pool cannot be safely assembled due to a public health crisis or related limitations. This case required the Court to consider the computation of the new speedy trial deadline following a mistrial (including one declared under Rule 24(c) based on the COVID-19 pandemic or related limitations).
The Court held that a mistrial triggers a tolling, not an extension, of the speedy trial period. It further held that when a trial court declares a mistrial, CRS § 18-1-405(6)(e) requires only reasonable delays attributable to the mistrial, not to exceed three months, to be excluded from the computation of time within which a defendant must be brought to trial.
In this case, the trial court believed that its mistrial declaration on March 1, 2021, pursuant to Rule 24(c)(4), automatically extended the six-month statutory speedy trial period by three months from the date of the mistrial—presumably until June 1. The Court concluded that this was error. The mistrial merely tolled the six-month speedy trial period for up to three months from the mistrial date. And, because the delay between the date of the mistrial (March 1) and the new trial date (April 26) was reasonable, attributable to the mistrial, and not in excess of three months, it must be excluded in its entirety from the speedy trial period. Under the circumstances present here, the speedy trial period was tolled between March 1 and April 26. Thus, since there were eight days left in the speedy trial period on March 1, there would have been eight days left in the speedy trial period on April 26, which would have made the new speedy trial deadline May 4 (April 26 + eight days).
Because the April 26 trial date landed within the speedy trial period, the rule to show cause issued in response to the People’s C.A.R. 21 petition was discharged. The matter was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.