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People v. Newman

2020 COA 108. No. 16CA2201. Criminal Procedure—Sexual Assault—Jury Deliberations—Extraneous Prejudicial Information—Extraneous Legal Content—Evidentiary Hearing.

July 23, 2020

Defendant was convicted of sexual assault. Before he was sentenced, he filed a motion for a new trial asserting that Juror M.O., who was a lawyer, introduced extraneous prejudicial information during deliberations. The trial court denied the motion without a hearing.

On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court denied his constitutional right to a fair trial by denying his motion. Under CRE 606(b) jurors are generally prohibited from testifying about a matter or statement that occurred during the jury’s deliberations or about the effect of anything upon any juror’s mind or emotions. But CRE 606(b) contains an exception permitting a juror to testify about “whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jurors’ attention.” In the context of CRE 606(b), extraneous legal content refers to a statement of law that is inconsistent with or supplemental to the trial court’s instructions. Defendant’s motion included a signed and sworn affidavit from one of the jurors alleging that Juror M.O. had made a number of statements during deliberations concerning criminal law and proceedings. It also alleged that M.O. had conducted outside research regarding character evidence and shared the results of his research with the rest of the jury. Because defendant presented credible evidence that extraneous prejudicial information may have been introduced to the jury, the trial court erred in denying his motion without affording him an evidentiary hearing.

The judgment of conviction was vacated and the case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s request for a new trial.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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