► Justice Richard Gabriel of Colorado: One of the Good Guys Print E-mail

Justice Richard Gabriel of Colorado: One of the Good Guys


The state of Colorado presented Richard L. Gabriel with a law license in 1987 after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.


The case before the Colorado Supreme Court and more specifically Justice Gabriel involved the matter of a criminal trial wherein the sitting jurist, Judge Ensor’s wife was a juror. Did you get that boys and girls? The trial judge allowed his wife to sit as a member of the jury.


Subsequently, the defendant appealed the conviction due to Judge Ensor’s wife being a member of the jury convicted him to the Colorado Supreme Court.


Unbelievably, Justice Gabriel’s fellow jurists on the Court ruled that Ensor’s conduct was acceptable and that the defendant wasn’t denied a fair trial just because the trial judge’s wife happened to be on the jury.


In his dissent regarding Judge Ensor’s conduct, Justice Gabriel that the situation created a structural error that required reversal of the conviction. He went on to state the following:


“The trial judge’s conduct ensured special status for his wife as a juror, likely undermined the independence of the jury, chilled the lawyers’ advocacy, created an obvious appearance of impropriety, and ultimately deprived Richardson of the fair trial that the United States and Colorado constitution’s guarantee him.”


How absurd is it that the other six justices felt that the U.S. and Colorado constitutions that guarantee everyone a fair trial was just a bunch of unnecessary gobbledygook?


Kudos to Justice Gabriel for having the courage and fortitude to speak out in favor of Coloradans to receive a fair trial.


As we speak (ca. June 2020), Gabriel continues to sit as a justice of the Colorado Supreme Court in Denver, Colorado.


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