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People v. Hall.

2021 CO 71. No. 20SC142. Trial by Court—Remarks of Judge—Requisites of Fair Trial.

October 18, 2021

In this opinion, the Supreme Court reviewed a decision of a division of the Court of Appeals holding that the trial court deprived defendant of his right to a fair trial because the trial court crossed the line from impartial judge to partisan advocate during a bench trial when it requested additional argument after closing arguments.

Here, the Court held that a trial court presiding over a bench trial acts well within its discretion and does not abandon its role as a neutral arbiter when it asks both parties for additional argument about properly admitted evidence before rendering a verdict. The Court further held that the trial judge’s request was not an invitation for personal opinion testimony and did not deprive defense counsel of a meaningful opportunity to respond.

The division’s judgment was reversed.

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