Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Will Ex-Boulder Cop Sam Carter Appeal?

Convicted yesterday by a Boulder jury of all counts including three felonies relating to his shooting and killing of an elk in the city, Sam Carter is fortunate to be out of jail (on a personal recognizance bond) pending sentencing in late August.  Meantime he will have to meet with the Boulder probation department as it puts together its presentence investigation (PSI) report recommending to the judge the sentence he might impose.  Prison time is possible though given his lack of criminal history and the fact that no mandatory minimum prison sentences are at issue here, it is unlikely.  Some local jail time is more probable.

He has the right to appeal the conviction and/or the sentence to the Colorado Court of Appeals.  Issues could include, for example, the numerous jury instructions (written statements explaining applicable law read to the jury by the judge) - which appellate judges seem to love to analyze for mistakes - or evidentiary rulings which kept portions of the defense case from the jury. 

Such appeals can take a year or so to complete.  Historically, the "success rate," i.e., the chance of a reversal, is just under 25%.  Every case is different of course and much depends on the particular facts and rulings in the case.  Appeals are expensive because they take so much time to put together, including loads of legal research and brief writing and re-writing.  Oral argument to the three-judge appeal panel also requires significant preparation. 

Generally, appeal beyond the Colorado Court of Appeals, that is, to the Colorado Supreme Court, is discretionary with that court and is even more of a long shot.  Historically, the Colorado Supreme Court accepts just under 10% of the cases appealed to it.

Assuming Carter's police union-provided lawyers are covered through an appeal as of right, he doesn't really have anything to lose by doing so (especially if he remains out of custody during the appeal process, which is likely).

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