A Legal Analysis of Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 16
What is “Discovery”?
In criminal court, “discovery” refers to the process by which the defendant obtains all evidence held against them by the prosecution in a criminal case, and which the prosecution intends to use against the defendant at trial. This process is regulated by Rule 16 of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure (CRCP 16), which requires prosecutors disclose the evidence upon which they are basing their charges against a defendant. As a defendant, you have a right to review all discoverable materials in your case, including police reports, lab results, witness statements, photos, etc.
Here at Krizman Law, included in “discovery” is the process of discovery analysis. After collecting the discovery in your case, we take the time to review all discovery and create a detailed report on the evidence contained within to insure we are able to combat any and all evidence the prosecution may try to use against you.
How do you get Discovery?
If you are charged with a crime, it is imperative to collect all evidence being used against you. That is why as part of our relentless criminal defense strategy, Krizman Law personally gathers and reviews all discovery from the DA on behalf of each of our clients. However, anyone who has an interest in a Colorado criminal case can use Colorado’s open records laws, the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA), to request discovery. To do so, submit a Criminal Justice Records Request Form and submit it to the DA in your case. While it may seem logical to request discovery from the police department, the District Attorney will be in possession of the most comprehensive file related to your case. As an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney, Casey Krizman knows how to acquire all relevant discovery in your case and will ensure that the prosecution fulfills its obligations to disclose evidence in your case.
What does the Prosecution have to Disclose under Rule 16?
Under Colo. R. Crim. P. 16 (1)(I)(a), the Prosecution has an obligation to disclose all “discoverable materials” to the Defense within a reasonable time since being received by the DA. Below is an abbreviated version of the Prosecutor’s Obligations (what they are required to disclose in a criminal investigation) outlined in Colo. R. Crim. P. 16 (1)(I)(a):
- The prosecution shall provide the following to the defense (an attorney for the defendant, or a defendant if pro se), and provide duplicates upon request, in regards to a pending case:
(I) Police, arrest and crime/offence reports, including the statements of any and all potential witnesses;
(II) Any grand jury testimony, including all tangible evidence presented therein;
(III) Any expert testimony, reports, or statements made in relation to your case – includes results of physical and mental exams, scientific tests, and experiments;
(IV) Any photos, documents, papers, or other physical evidence being held in your case;
(V) Any record of prior criminal convictions, any codefendants and any witnesses the DA intends to call;
(VI) All electronic surveillance collected of conversations involving the defendant, and codefendants or witnesses (includes wiretaps);
(VII) A list of the names and addresses of any witnesses the DA intends to call at trial;
(VIII) Any written/recorded statements of the defendant or of a codefendant, including any statements made to police or prosecution by the defendant or codefendant.
- The prosecution must also disclose any information which tends to negate the guilt of the accused or would reduce punishment for the crime accused.
- These obligations also apply to the materials and info possessed by the attorney’s staff and anyone who has participated in the investigation or evaluation of the case. As well, they must either regularly report, or in this case have reported, to the DA’s office.
In addition to this, subsection (b) of this rule outlines the timeframe within which the DA must hand over discovery to the defense. In some extreme cases, failure to produce discovery by the DA can result in evidence being inadmissible at trial or the declaration of mistrial.
What else does the prosecution have to disclose? – Giglio Issues
Under two infamous court cases – Brady v. Maryland. And Giglio v. United States – prosecutors are required to disclose any information which tends to exonerate the defendant of the crime charged (Brady evidence). In short, this means that the prosecution is required to disclose any evidence they have which tends to rebut the guilt of the defendant, and suggests they did not commit the crime(s) accused.
Giglio v. U.S extends this proposition, stating that, “when the reliability of a given witness may be determinative of guilt or innocence, nondisclosure of evidence affecting credibility falls within this general rule.” This means that the prosecution is required to disclose any evidence which tends to impeach (or damages the credibility of) any government witness. As part of the Discovery Analysis we conduct on our clients in our relentless criminal defense, we review all Discovery and seek out all evidence related to the credibility of witnesses, including:
- Prior inconsistent statements, or variations in witness’ statements
- Perks provided to witnesses in order to testify:
- Immunity in exchange for testimony
- Reduced/dropped charges
- Reduction of sentence
- Stays of deportation/immigration status considerations
- Payment in exchange for testimony
- Non-prosecution agreements
- Other bias issues:
- Hostility towards defendant/group the defendant identifies with
- Relationship to victim and other parties involved
- Uncharged criminal conduct
- Issues that could affect the witness’ memory, such as mental health conditions and substance abuse
- Past convictions (subject to Rule 609)
What is the prosecution not required to disclose?
Under CRCP 16 (1)(I)(e), the prosecution is not required to disclose the legal research, records, correspondence, reports, or memoranda of the prosecuting attorney (or their staff), if they contain their opinions, theories or conclusions. In short, while the prosecution is required to disclose all evidence and official findings, they are allowed to keep their own work product confidential. As well, the prosecution is not required to disclose the identity of a confidential informant. However, in some cases, and with the assistance of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney, these issues can be litigated – Krizman Law can help.
(1) “Defense”, as used in this rule, means an attorney for the defendant, or a defendant if pro se.
Part I. Disclosure to the Defense
(a) Prosecutor’s Obligations.
(1) The prosecuting attorney shall make available to the defense the following material and information which is within the possession or control of the prosecuting attorney, and shall provide duplicates upon request, and concerning the pending case:
(I) Police, arrest and crime or offense reports, including statements of all witnesses;
(II) With consent of the judge supervising the grand jury, all transcripts of grand jury testimony and all tangible evidence presented to the grand jury in connection with the case;
(III) Any reports or statements of experts made in connection with the particular case, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons;
(IV) Any books, papers, documents, photographs or tangible objects held as evidence in connection with the case;
(V) Any record of prior criminal convictions of the accused, any codefendant or any person the prosecuting attorney intends to call as a witness in the case;
(VI) All tapes and transcripts of any electronic surveillance (including wiretaps) of conversations involving the accused, any codefendant or witness in the case;
(VII) A written list of the names and addresses of the witnesses then known to the district attorney whom he or she intends to call at trial;
(VIII) Any written or recorded statements of the accused or of a codefendant, and the substance of any oral statements made to the police or prosecution by the accused or by a codefendant, if the trial is to be a joint one.
(2) The prosecuting attorney shall disclose to the defense any material or information within his or her possession or control which tends to negate the guilt of the accused as to the offense charged or would tend to reduce the punishment therefor.
(3) The prosecuting attorney’s obligations under this section (a) extend to material and information in the possession or control of members of his or her staff and of any others who have participated in the investigation or evaluation of the case and who either regularly report, or with reference to the particular case have reported, to his or her office.
(b) Prosecutor’s Performance of Obligations.
(1) The prosecuting attorney shall perform his or her obligations under subsections (a)(1)(I), (IV), (VII), and with regard to written or recorded statements of the accused or a codefendant under (VIII) as soon as practicable but not later than 21 days after the defendant’s first appearance at the time of or following the filing of charges, except that portions of such reports claimed to be nondiscoverable may be withheld pending a determination and ruling of the court under Part III but the defense must be notified in writing that information has not been disclosed.
(2) The prosecuting attorney shall request court consent and provide the defense with all grand jury transcripts made in connection with the case as soon as practicable but not later than 35 days after indictment.
(3) The prosecuting attorney shall perform all other obligations under subsection (a)(1) as soon as practicable but not later than 35 days before trial.
(4) The prosecuting attorney shall ensure that a flow of information is maintained between the various investigative personnel and his or her office sufficient to place within his or her possession or control all material and information relevant to the accused and the offense charged.
(c) Material Held by Other Governmental Personnel.
(1) Upon the defense’s request and designation of material or information which would be discoverable if in the possession or control of the prosecuting attorney and which is in the possession or control of other governmental personnel, the prosecuting attorney shall use diligent good faith efforts to cause such material to be made available to the defense.
(2) The court shall issue suitable subpoenas or orders to cause such material to be made available to the defense, if the prosecuting attorney’s efforts are unsuccessful and such material or other governmental personnel are subject to the jurisdiction of the court.
(d) Discretionary Disclosures.
(1) The court in its discretion may, upon motion, require disclosure to the defense of relevant material and information not covered by Parts I (a), (b), and (c), upon a showing by the defense that the request is reasonable.
(2) The court may deny disclosure authorized by this section if it finds that there is substantial risk to any person of physical harm, intimidation, bribery, economic reprisals, or unnecessary annoyance or embarrassment, resulting from such disclosure, which outweighs any usefulness of the disclosure to the defense.
(3) Where the interests of justice would be served, the court may order the prosecution to disclose the underlying facts or data supporting the opinion in that particular case of an expert endorsed as a witness. If a report has not been prepared by that expert to aid in compliance with other discovery obligations of this rule, the court may order the party calling that expert to provide a written summary of the testimony describing the witness’s opinions and the bases and reasons therefor, including results of physical or mental examination and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons. The intent of this section is to allow the defense sufficient meaningful information to conduct effective cross- examination under CRE 705.
(e) Matters not Subject to Disclosure.
(1) Work Product. Disclosure shall not be required of legal research or of records, correspondence, reports, or memoranda to the extent that they contain the opinions, theories, or conclusions of the prosecuting attorney or members of his legal staff.
(2) Informants. Disclosure shall not be required of an informant’s identity where his or her identity is a prosecution secret and a failure to disclose will not infringe the constitutional rights of the accused. Disclosure shall not be denied hereunder of the identity of witnesses to be produced at a hearing or trial.
Part II. Disclosure to Prosecution
(a) The Person of the Accused.
(1) Notwithstanding the initiation of judicial proceedings, and subject to constitutional limitations, upon request of the prosecuting attorney, the court may require the accused to give any nontestimonial identification as provided in Rule 41.1(h)(2).
(2) Whenever the personal appearance of the accused is required for the foregoing purposes, reasonable notice of the time and place of such appearance shall be given by the prosecuting attorney to the accused and his or her counsel. Provision may be made for appearance for such purposes in an order admitting the accused to bail or providing for his or her release.
(b) Medical and Scientific Reports.
(1) Subject to constitutional limitations, the trial court may require that the prosecuting attorney be informed of and permitted to inspect and copy or photograph any reports or statements of experts, made in connection with the particular case, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons.
(2) Subject to constitutional limitations, and where the interests of justice would be served, the court may order the defense to disclose the underlying facts or data supporting the opinion in that particular case of an expert endorsed as a witness. If a report has not been prepared by that expert to aid in compliance with other discovery obligations of this rule, the court may order the party calling that expert to provide a written summary of the testimony describing the witness’s opinions and the bases and reasons therefor, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons. The intent of this section is to allow the prosecution sufficient meaningful information to conduct effective cross-examination under CRE 705.
(c) Nature of Defense.
Subject to constitutional limitations, the defense shall disclose to the prosecution the nature of any defense, other than alibi, which the defense intends to use at trial. The defense shall also disclose the names and addresses of persons whom the defense intends to call as witnesses at trial. At the entry of the not guilty plea, the court shall set a deadline for such disclosure. In no case shall such disclosure be less than 35 days before trial for a felony trial, or 7 days before trial for a non-felony trial, except for good cause shown. Upon receipt of the information required by this subsection (c), the prosecuting attorney shall notify the defense of any additional witnesses which the prosecution intends to call to rebut such defense within a reasonable time after their identity becomes known.
(d) Notice of Alibi.
The defense, if it intends to introduce evidence that the defendant was at a place other than the location of the offense, shall serve upon the prosecuting attorney as soon as practicable but not later than 35 days before trial a statement in writing specifying the place where he or she claims to have been and the names and addresses of the witnesses he or she will call to support the defense of alibi. Upon receiving this statement, the prosecuting attorney shall advise the defense of the names and addresses of any additional witnesses who may be called to refute such alibi as soon as practicable after their names become known. Neither the prosecuting attorney nor the defense shall be permitted at the trial to introduce evidence inconsistent with the specification, unless the court for good cause and upon just terms permits the specification to be amended. If the defense fails to make the specification required by this section, the court shall exclude evidence in his behalf that he or she was at a place other than that specified by the prosecuting attorney unless the court is satisfied upon good cause shown that such evidence should be admitted.
Part III. Regulation of Discovery(a) Investigation Not to be Impeded.
Subject to the provisions of Parts I (d) and III (d), neither the prosecuting attorney, the defense counsel, the defendant nor other prosecution or defense personnel shall advise persons having relevant material or information (except the defendant) to refrain from discussing the case or with showing any relevant material to any party, counsel or their agent, nor shall they otherwise impede counsel’s investigation of the case. The court shall determine that the parties are aware of the provision.
(b) Continuing Duty to Disclose.
If, subsequent to compliance with these standards or orders pursuant thereto, a party discovers additional material or information which is subject to disclosure, including the names and addresses of any additional witnesses who have become known or the materiality of whose testimony has become known to the district attorney after making available the written list required in part I (a)(1)(VII), he or she shall promptly notify the other party or his or her counsel of the existence of such additional material, and if the additional material or information is discovered during trial, the court shall also be notified.
(c) Custody of Materials.
Materials furnished in discovery pursuant to this rule may only be used for purposes of preparation and trial of the case and may only be provided to others and used by them for purposes of preparation and trial of the case, and shall be subject to such other terms, conditions or restrictions as the court, statutes or rules may provide. Defense counsel is not required to provide actual copies of discovery to his or her client if defense counsel reasonably believes that it would not be in the client’s interest, and other methods of having the client review discovery are available. An attorney may also use materials he or she receives in discovery for the purposes of educational presentations if all identifying information is first removed.
(d) Protective Orders.
With regard to all matters of discovery under this rule, upon a showing of cause, the court may at any time order that specified disclosures be restricted or deferred, or make such other order as is appropriate, provided that all material and information to which a party is entitled must be disclosed in time to permit the party to make beneficial use thereof.
(e) Excision.(1) When some parts of certain material are discoverable under the provisions of these court rules, and other parts are not discoverable, the nondiscoverable material may be excised and the remainder made available in accordance with the applicable provisions of these rules.(2) Material excised pursuant to judicial order shall be sealed and preserved in the records of the court, to be made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal.(f) In Camera Proceedings.
Upon request of any person, the court may permit any showing of cause for denial or regulation of disclosures, or portion of such showing, to be made in camera. A record shall be made of such proceedings. If the court enters an order granting relief following a showing in camera, the entire record of such showing shall be sealed and preserved in the records of the court, to be made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal.
(g) Failure to Comply; Sanctions.
If at any time during the course of the proceedings it is brought to the attention of the court that a party has failed to comply with this rule or with an order issued pursuant to this rule, the court may order such party to permit the discovery or inspection of materials not previously disclosed, grant a continuance, prohibit the party from introducing in evidence the material not disclosed or enter such other order as it deems just under the circumstances.
Part IV. Procedure(a) General Procedural Requirements.(1) In all criminal cases, in procedures prior to trial, there may be a need for one or more of the following three stages:(I) An exploratory stage, initiated by the parties and conducted without court supervision to implement discovery required or authorized under this rule;(II) An omnibus stage, when ordered by the court, supervised by the trial court and court appearance required when necessary;(III) A trial planning stage, requiring pretrial conferences when necessary.(2) These stages shall be adapted to the needs of the particular case and may be modified or eliminated as appropriate.(b) Setting of Omnibus Hearing.(1) If a plea of not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity is entered at the time the accused is arraigned, the court may set a time for and hold an omnibus hearing in all felony and misdemeanor cases.(2) In determining the date for the omnibus hearing, the court shall allow counsel sufficient time:(I) To initiate and complete discovery required or authorized under this rule;(II) To conduct further investigation necessary to the defendant’s case;(III) To continue plea discussion.(3) The hearing shall be no later than 35 days after arraignment.(c) Omnibus Hearing.(1) If an omnibus hearing is held, the court on its own initiative, utilizing an appropriate checklist form, should:(I) Ensure that there has been compliance with the rule regarding obligations of the parties;(II) Ascertain whether the parties have completed the discovery required in Part I (a), and if not, make orders appropriate to expedite completion;(III) Ascertain whether there are requests for additional disclosures under Part I (d);(IV) Make rulings on any motions or other requests then pending, and ascertain whether any additional motions or requests will be made at the hearing or continued portions thereof;(V) Ascertain whether there are any procedural or constitutional issues which should be considered; and(VI) Upon agreement of the parties, or upon a finding that the trial is likely to be protracted or otherwise unusually complicated, set a time for a pretrial conference.(2) Unless the court otherwise directs, all motions and other requests prior to trial should be reserved for and presented orally or in writing at the omnibus hearing. All issues presented at the omnibus hearing may be raised without prior notice by either party or by the court. If discovery, investigation, preparation, and evidentiary hearing, or a formal presentation is necessary for a fair determination of any issue, the omnibus hearing should be continued until all matters are properly disposed of.(3) Any pretrial motion, request, or issue which is not raised at the omnibus hearing shall be deemed waived, unless the party concerned did not have the information necessary to make the motion or request or raise the issue.(4) Stipulations by any party or his or her counsel should be binding upon the parties at trial unless set aside or modified by the court in the interests of justice.(5) A verbatim record of the omnibus hearing shall be made. This record shall include the disclosures made, all rulings and orders of the court, stipulations of the parties, and an identification of other matter determined or pending.(d) Omnibus Hearing Forms.(1) The forms set out in the Appendix to Chapter 29 shall be utilized by the court in conducting the omnibus hearing. These forms shall be made available to the parties at the time of the defendant’s first appearance.(2) Nothing in the forms shall be construed to make substantive changes of these rules.(e) Pretrial Conference.(1) Whenever a trial is likely to be protracted or otherwise unusually complicated, or upon request by agreement of the parties, the trial court may (in addition to the omnibus hearing) hold one or more pretrial conferences, with trial counsel present, to consider such matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial. Matters which might be considered include:(I) Making stipulations as to facts about which there can be no dispute;(II) Marking for identification various documents and other exhibits of the parties;(III) Excerpting or highlighting exhibits;(IV) Waivers of foundation as to such documents;(V) Issues relating to codefendant statements;(VI) Severance of defendants or offenses for trial;(VII) Seating arrangements for defendants and counsel;(VIII) Conduct of jury examination, including any issues relating to confidentiality of juror locating information;(IX) Number and use of peremptory challenges;(X) Procedure on objections where there are multiple counsel or defendants;(XI) Order of presentation of evidence and arguments when there are multiple counsel or defendants;(XII) Order of cross-examination where there are multiple defendants;(XIII) Temporary absence of defense counsel during trial;(XIV) Resolution of any motions or evidentiary issues in a manner least likely to inconvenience jurors to the extent possible; and(XV) Submission of items to be included in a juror notebook.(2) At the conclusion of the pretrial conference, a memorandum of the matters agreed upon should be signed by the parties, approved by the court, and filed. Such memorandum shall be binding upon the parties at trial, on appeal and in postconviction proceedings unless set aside or modified by the court in the interests of justice. However, admissions of fact by an accused if present should bind the accused only if included in the pretrial order and signed by the accused as well as his or her attorney.(f) Juror Notebooks.
Juror notebooks shall be available during all felony trials and deliberations to aid jurors in the performance of their duties. The parties shall confer about the items to be included in juror notebooks and, by the pre-trial conference or other date set by the court, shall make a joint submission to the court of items to be included in a juror notebook. In non-felony trials, juror notebooks shall be optional.
Part V. Time Schedules and Discovery Procedures(a) Mandatory Discovery.
The furnishing of the items discoverable, referred to in Part I (a), (b) and (c) and Part II (b)(1), (c) and (d) herein, is mandatory and no motions for discovery with respect to such items may be filed.
(b) Time Schedule.(1) In the event the defendant enters a plea of not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity, or asserts the defense of impaired mental condition, the court shall set a deadline for such disclosure to the prosecuting attorney of those items referred to in Parts II (b) (1) and (c) herein, subject to objections which may be raised by the defense within that period pursuant to Part III (d) of this rule. In no case shall such disclosure be less than 35 days before trial for a felony trial, or 7 days before trial for a non-felony trial, except for good cause shown.(2) Regarding the use and timing of electronic discovery.(i) The prosecutor may perform his or her obligations by use of a statewide discovery sharing system as established pursuant to 16-9-702, C.R.S.(ii)When utilizing such system the prosecutor’s obligations to make discovery available to the defense as required by Part I are fulfilled when any such material or information is made available for electronic download to defense counsel, defense counsel’s designee, or, in the case of a public defender, to the central administrative office of the Office of the State Public Defender.(3) If either the prosecuting attorney or the defense claims that discoverable material under this rule was not furnished, was incomplete, was illegible or otherwise failed to satisfy this rule, or if claim is made that discretionary disclosures pursuant to Part I (d) should be made, the prosecuting attorney or the defense may file a motion concerning these matters and the motion shall be promptly heard by the court.(4) For good cause, the court may, on motion of either party or its own motion, alter the time for all matters relating to discovery under this rule.(c) Cost and Location of Discovery.(1) The prosecution’s costs of providing any discoverable material electronically to the defense shall be funded as set forth in section 16-9-702(2), C.R.S. The prosecution shall not charge for discovery. For any materials provided to the prosecution as part of the defense discovery obligation, the cost shall be borne by the prosecution based on the actual cost of duplication. Copies of any discovery provided to a defendant by court appointed counsel shall be paid for by the defendant.(1) The place of discovery for materials not capable of being provided electronically shall be at the office of the party furnishing it, or at a mutually agreeable location.(d) Compliance Certificate.(1) When deemed necessary by the trial court, the prosecuting attorney and the defense shall furnish to the court a compliance certificate signed by all counsel listing specifically each item furnished to the other party. The court may, in its discretion, refuse to admit into evidence items not disclosed to the other party if such evidence was required to be disclosed under Parts I and II of this rule.(2) If discoverable matters are obtained after the compliance certificate is filed, copies thereof shall be furnished forthwith to the opposing party and, upon application to the court, the court may either permit such evidence to be offered at trial or grant a continuance in its discretion.
Rule 16 – Discovery and Procedure Before Trial, Colo. R. Crim. P. 16
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Call him today at 720.819.7317.