Monday, December 23, 2013

Maestas v. District Court case brief

Maestas v. District Court case brief summary
541 P.2d 889 (1975)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant petitioned for a writ of prohibition ordering respondents, District Court in and for the City and County of Denver (Colorado), and judge, to grant defendant a second preliminary hearing.

CASE FACTS
Defendant, who was charged with attempted robbery and with two enhancement of punishment counts, was confronted solely with hearsay testimony from the prosecution's witness at the preliminary hearing. Specifically, the witness, a detective, made statements that referred entirely to hearsay gleaned from the police file and from a telephone conversation with the alleged victim. Neither the arresting officers nor the key witnesses testified. The district court denied defendant's motions to strike the testimony, to dismiss the case, or, alternatively, to be granted a new preliminary hearing.

DISCUSSION

  • On defendant's petition, the court first held that the prosecution was not required to present evidence under the Habitual Criminal Statute. 
  • However, the court found that the prosecution's sole reliance on hearsay by non-perceiving witnesses at the preliminary hearing was not sufficient to determine whether there was probable cause to hold defendant under the robbery charges. 
  • Some semblance of factual foundation should have been presented to show probable cause, particularly when perceiving witnesses were not unavailable. 
  • The matter was remanded and a new preliminary hearing was ordered.

CONCLUSION
The court granted defendant's petition for a writ of prohibition and remanded the matter with the direction that the judge and the district court grant defendant a new preliminary hearing.


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