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People v. Wester-Gravelle.

2020 CO 64. No. 18SC624. Plain Error—Juror Unanimity—Modified Unanimity Instructions—Election—Forgery.

June 22, 2020

In this case involving one count of forgery against defendant, the Supreme Court considered whether a Court of Appeals’ division erred in concluding that the prosecution had an obligation to elect the specific document or documents on which it would rely for conviction or, alternatively, that defendant was entitled to a modified unanimity instruction requiring the jurors to agree unanimously that she had committed the same underlying act of forgery or that she had committed all of the underlying acts.

In addressing this question, the Court first concluded, contrary to the People’s assertion, that defendant did not waive her assertion that either an election or a modified unanimity instruction was required. Turning to the merits, the Court further concluded that the trial court did not plainly err when it did not, sua sponte, require an election or give a modified unanimity instruction here because any error was neither obvious nor substantial.

Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the division below and remanded this case to the Court of Appeals for consideration of defendant’s remaining contentions on appeal.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

Related Topics

Plain Error, Juror Unanimity, Modified Unanimity Instructions, Election, Forgery

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