Colorado Revised Statutes Title 13. Courts and Court Procedure § 13-65-102. Process for petitioning for compensation--eligibility to petition--actual innocence required--jurisdiction

(1)(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of article 10 of title 24, C.R.S., a person who has been convicted of a felony in this state and sentenced to a term of incarceration as a result of that conviction and has served all or part of such sentence, or an immediate family member of such person, may be eligible for compensation as set forth in this article upon a finding that the person was actually innocent of the crime for which he or she was convicted.

(b) A petition for compensation based on actual innocence filed pursuant to this section is a civil claim for relief.

(2) A petition may be filed pursuant to this section only:

(a) When no further criminal prosecution of the petitioner for the crimes charged, or for crimes arising from the same criminal episode in the case that is the subject of the petition, has been initiated by the district attorney or the attorney general and subsequent to one of the following:

(I) A court vacating or reversing all convictions in the case based on reasons other than legal insufficiency of evidence or legal error unrelated to the petitioner's actual innocence and following an order of dismissal of all charges;  or

(II) A court vacating or reversing all convictions in the case based on reasons other than legal insufficiency of evidence or legal error unrelated to the petitioner's actual innocence and following an acquittal of all charges after retrial;  and

(b) Either:

(I) If the conditions described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) are met on or after June 5, 2013, not more than two years after said conditions are met;  or

(II) If the conditions described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) are met before June 5, 2013, not more than two years after June 5, 2013.

(3) The district court shall not declare a person to be actually innocent unless, based on evidence supporting the petitioner's allegation of innocence, including but not limited to an analysis of the person's DNA profile, the court determines that:

(a) The person committed neither the act or offense that served as the basis for the conviction and incarceration that is the subject of the petition, nor any lesser included offense thereof;  and

(b) The person meets the definition of actual innocence in section 13-65-101(1) .

(4)(a) A petitioner is not eligible for compensation pursuant to this article if:

(I) He or she does not meet the definition of actual innocence in section 13-65-101(1) ;

(II) He or she committed or suborned perjury during any proceedings related to the case that is the subject of the claim;  or

(III) To avoid prosecution in another case for which the petitioner has not been determined to be actually innocent, he or she pled guilty in the case that served as the basis for the conviction and incarceration that is the subject of the petition.

(b) Notwithstanding subparagraphs (I) to (III) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (4), conduct described in said subparagraphs shall not include a confession or an admission that was later determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, or by stipulation of the parties, to be false or coerced by any governmental agent.

(5)(a) A petitioner shall file his or her petition in the district court in the county in which the case originated, to the district court judge who presided over the original proceeding if such judge is available;  except that, if either party objects to such judge presiding over this civil claim for relief, then another district judge of the district court shall preside over the matter.

(b) The petition shall name the state of Colorado as the respondent.  The attorney general and the district attorney of the judicial district in which the case originated shall each have a separate and concurrent authority to intervene as parties to a petition, and a copy of the petition shall be served on the attorney general and the district attorney.

(c) A petition shall contain a recitation of facts necessary to an understanding of the petitioner's claim of actual innocence.  The petition may be supported by DNA evidence, if applicable, expert opinion, previously unknown or unavailable evidence, and the existing court record.  The petitioner shall attach to the petition:

(I) A copy of any expert report relied upon by the petitioner to support his or her claim of actual innocence;

(II) Any documentation supporting the recitation of facts in the claim;

(III) A record from the county jail, state correctional facility, or other state facility documenting the amount of time that the petitioner was incarcerated;  and

(IV) A sworn affidavit of the petitioner asserting his or her actual innocence as defined in section 13-65-101(1) .

(d) Upon receipt of a petition, the attorney general and the district attorney shall each have sixty days to file a response in the district court.  A joint response may be filed.  The court may grant the responding party, for good cause shown, no more than one extension of time, not exceeding forty-five days, in which to file a response.  The response shall contain a statement that:

(I) Based upon the petition and verifiable and substantial evidence of actual innocence, no further criminal prosecution of the petitioner for the crimes charged can or will be initiated by the district attorney or the attorney general, that no questions of fact remain as to the petitioner's actual innocence, and that the petitioner is eligible to seek compensation under the provisions of this section;  or

(II) The responding party contests the nature, significance, or effect of the evidence of actual innocence, the facts related to the petitioner's alleged wrongful conviction, or whether the petitioner is eligible to seek compensation under the provisions of this section.  The response shall include a recitation of facts necessary to an understanding as to why the petition is being contested.

(e) If the responding party contests the actual innocence of the petitioner, the district court may order that the responding party be allowed to retest any evidence at issue in the claim if such evidence remains to be tested and testing such evidence will not consume the remainder of the sample.

(f)(I) If a petition is contested, the petitioner shall ensure that the district court has, or has available, the transcript from the original trial if the petitioner was convicted at trial, the post-conviction motion or appeal that resulted in a dismissal of the case that is the subject of the petition and the transcript of any hearings associated with such motion or appeal;  and any other pleadings or transcripts from proceedings that the petitioner seeks the district court to consider.

(II) The district court shall use any transcripts that are within the court records for the judicial district of any proceeding involving the case that is the subject of the petition that the petitioner or the respondent wants the district court to consider.

(g) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Colorado rules of civil procedure shall apply to petitions filed pursuant to this section.  The district court may consider any relevant evidence regardless of whether it was admissible in, or excluded from, the criminal trial in which the petitioner was convicted.  No evidence shall be excluded on grounds that it was seized or obtained in violation of the United States constitution or the state constitution.  The district court may consider the ongoing investigation and prosecution of any other individual for the crimes committed when determining the timing and scope of the hearing if the claim is uncontested or the trial if the claim is contested.

(6) As soon as practicable given the unique circumstances of claims filed pursuant to this section, the district court shall act as follows:

(a) Upon receipt of an uncontested response to a petition, the district court shall issue a final order on the petition, finding that the petitioner is actually innocent.  If the district court issues a final order pursuant to this paragraph (a), the district court shall include directions to the state court administrator to act as described in section 13-3-114 .

(b) Upon receipt of a response contesting the petitioner's declaration of actual innocence or his or her eligibility for compensation regardless of petitioner's claim of actual innocence, or both, the district court shall set the matter for a trial to the district court or, at the written election of either party, to a trial to a jury of six, at which trial the burden shall be on the petitioner to show by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is actually innocent of all crimes that are the subject of the petition, and that he or she is eligible to receive compensation pursuant to this article.  A trial to a jury of six must result in a unanimous verdict.  Following a trial to the district court, the court shall issue a final order on the petition, which order shall include findings of fact as to whether the petitioner has established by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is actually innocent and whether the petitioner is eligible for compensation under this article.  If the court finds that the petitioner is actually innocent and eligible for compensation pursuant to this article, the district court shall issue a final order awarding the petitioner compensation pursuant to section 13-65-103 .  Upon a finding by a jury of actual innocence, the district court shall also issue an order awarding the petitioner compensation pursuant to section 13-65-103 .

(7)(a) Either party has a right to an appeal.

(b) If the petitioner appeals the amount of compensation awarded, the state court administrator shall not delay in paying the petitioner pursuant to the directions of the district court while the appeal is pending.

(c) If the attorney general or a district attorney appeals the outcome of the trial described in subsection (6) of this section, the state court administrator shall not delay in paying the petitioner pursuant to the directions of the district court while the appeal is pending.

(d) In the event that the attorney general or district attorney prevails in an appeal, the court may take such action as is necessary to recover the amount of any compensation awarded to the petitioner pursuant to section 13-65-103 .


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