People v. Cline.
2022 COA 135. No. 20CA1121. Second Degree Assault of a Police Officer—Subpoena—Motion to Quash—In Camera Review—Jury Instructions—Use of Deadly Physical Force Against an Intruder—Unlawful Entry.
November 23, 2022
Cline crashed a golf cart into a snowbank near his neighbor W.P.’s house. He then entered W.P.’s house, awakening him, and W.P. called 911. Two sheriff’s deputies arrived at Cline’s house, and Cline invited them inside. Deputy Draughon faced Cline and began reading him his Miranda rights while Deputy Christensen moved to Cline’s left. Cline took issue with Deputy Christensen’s position, gesturing toward the deputy while telling him to move back. The deputies handcuffed Cline and sat him on the floor. Once handcuffed, Cline refused to stand. A struggle with the deputies ensued. Once Cline seemed calmer, Deputy Christensen went outside to move the patrol vehicle. Meanwhile, Cline struggled with Deputy Draughon, kicking him and pulling on his genitals. Deputy Christensen returned during this episode and tased Cline, subduing him. The deputies then stood Cline up and escorted him to the patrol vehicle. While being transported to jail, Cline shouted at Deputy Draughon and called him racist names. Cline also damaged the police vehicle by kicking the door.
Cline was charged with a number of counts. Before trial, he served a subpoena duces tecum on the sheriff seeking, among other things, Deputy Draughon’s personnel file. The district court granted the sheriff’s motion to quash the request for the personnel file. The court declined to conduct an in camera review of the personnel file and ordered the records returned to the sheriff. Cline was found guilty of first degree criminal trespass, second degree assault of a peace officer, third degree assault, harassment, and criminal mischief.
On appeal, Cline argued that the district court erred by refusing to conduct an in camera review of Deputy Draughon’s personnel file before granting the sheriff’s motion to quash the subpoena. He maintained that, because he was charged with assaulting a police officer, the district court was required to conduct an in camera review of the officer’s personnel file and then release to him any complaints of excessive force and other file information concerning the officer’s credibility. A defendant charged with assaulting a police officer must meet the five-part test in People v. Spykstra, 234 P.3d 662, 666 (Colo. 2010), to be entitled to an in camera review of the officer’s subpoenaed personnel file. If a defendant fails to meet the Spykstra test, the court does not abuse its discretion by not conducting an in camera review before quashing the subpoena. As relevant here, Spykstra requires a showing that there is a reasonable likelihood that the subpoenaed materials exist based on a specific factual basis. The district court quashed the subpoena for Deputy Draughon’s personnel file because Cline failed to articulate any factual basis for believing that Deputy Draughon’s personnel file includes complaints of excessive force or dishonesty. Therefore, the court did not abuse its discretion by not conducting an in camera review of the personnel file before granting the sheriff’s motion to quash.
Cline also contended that the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the force-against-intruders defense. There was no credible evidence that the deputies made an unlawful entry to support the instruction, so the court did not err by refusing it.
Cline further argued that the district court erred by instructing the jury on the initial aggressor exception to self-defense because there was no evidence that he initiated the physical conflict. Here, the evidence would support a jury finding that Cline was the initial aggressor of the physical conflict when he kicked Deputy Draughon. Therefore, sufficient evidence existed to support the district court’s jury instruction on the initial aggressor exception to self-defense.
Cline also argued that the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on mistake of fact as a defense to criminal trespass. Cline’s mistake of fact instruction was unnecessarily duplicative because the trespass instruction already required the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Cline knowingly entered or remained in another’s dwelling. Further, the trespass instruction accurately conveyed the elements of the offense. Accordingly, the district court did not err.
Lastly, Cline contended that the district court abused its discretion and violated his constitutional right to present a defense by precluding his expert witness from testifying that the deputies’ actions in tasing him and physically transporting him to the patrol car were not reasonable or appropriate. However, Cline did not dispute that the deputies’ actions occurred after he kicked Deputy Draughon and grabbed the deputy’s genitals. Therefore, the evidence would not have made it more or less probable that Cline had acted in self-defense. Further, Cline had ample opportunity to present evidence regarding the reasonableness of Deputy Draughon’s actions and his alleged use of excessive force, so he was not barred from “meaningfully testing” the evidence against him, and the court’s ruling did not violate his constitutional right to present a defense. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the challenged evidence was not relevant.
The judgment of conviction was affirmed.