People in Interest of J.D., 2020 CO 48 (June 8, 2020)

The Colorado Supreme Court holds that neither statute nor rule prohibits a magistrate from revisiting prior rulings or decisions in a case the magistrate has been properly appointed to hear until the proceedings have culminated in a final order or judgement.

The juvenile pleaded guilty to third-degree trespassing and entered into a deferred adjudication agreement. After the juvenile did not timely object to a restitution order, the juvenile moved to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(d). The magistrate granted the juvenile’s motion to withdraw his plea. Upon review, the district court determined that the magistrate’s order allowing withdrawal of the plea was void, reinstated probation, and granted the juvenile leave to challenge counsel’s effectiveness through a reinstated nunc pro tunc review petition. The People appealed the district court order. The Court of Appeals held that the juvenile magistrate had jurisdiction to consider the Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(d) motion to withdraw the plea. The People sought review.

Affirming the appellate court order on different grounds, the Supreme Court holds that the magistrate had jurisdiction to review the juvenile’s motion to withdraw his plea. The Court considers Colorado Revised Statute 19-1-108 and the Colorado Rules for Magistrates and applies various rules of statutory construction to read these rules as a comprehensive scheme. As this scheme provides for judicial or appellate review of only final orders, the Court reasons that “neither the statute nor the rules can be reasonably understood to preclude a juvenile magistrate from entertaining a motion authorized by Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(d) prior to sentencing” and that “a magistrate, just as a judge, retains he ability to modify or reconsider any of his rulings made in the course of judicial proceedings until those proceedings culminate in a final, reviewable order or judgment.” The Supreme Court views Colorado Revised Statute 19-1-108 as making “this proposition even more clear” in juvenile cases.

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