SB-88 Passes out of Committee

It is fundamentally UNFAIR for a criminal defendant to interfere with a witness - to prevent someone from testifying - and then to BENEFIT from that wrongdoing.

And yet the law in Colorado has a loophole that allows just that. A sadly common example is this: A domestic violence victim calls the police and reports an assault. The officers on scene see a woman with a bruised face and bloody lip. The abuser is arrested and from the jail calls the victim. He tells her, "If you don't show up to trial the DA has to drop the case. Remember, no face no case" (that's an actual quote from a real case). When the victim doesn't show to court, there is no witness to say what happened and prosecutors oftentimes have to dismiss the case. The defendant benefits from manipulating the system or even through threats of violence.

Sometimes this happens under the most tragic circumstance imagineable: A witness killing. Two years ago gang members who robbed a marijuana dispensary for cash killed a witness to prevent him from testifying. The murdered witness's statements were considered hearsay and most of them were deemed inadmissible in court.

43 states and the federal judicial system have a rule or statute that creates a hearsay exception so these statements are admissible in court. But Colorado is not one of them.

Such rules and statutes create a strong deterrence to defendants who want to manipulate the system and avoid justice. And rules allowing what would otherwise be hearsay testimony into evidence ensures juries will have access to the information the defendant wrongfully tries to keep from them.

This is a problem I've been fighting to fix since 2015 and yesterday I'm proud to say Colorado took a step towards passing a law to close this loophole. Senator Rhonda Fields - a true champion for victims - is sponsoring legislation in Senate Bill 88 to create a hearsay exception to ensure no one benefits from preventing access to the truth.

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to testify in support of that bill, and I'm extemely happy to report that SB-88 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously, 5-0! On to the next step! (You can listen to the testimony HERE)

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