Marijuana activist and attorney Robert J. Corry was acquitted of destroying private property, after a Denver County judge made a rare ruling to overturn the jury's guilty verdict minutes after it was read.
Corry, a prominent marijuana attorney who helped distribute free joints in Civic Center last month, was arrested in June after he allegedly smashed in the window of a recreational vehicle near South Beeler Street and East Jefferson Avenue. The 46-year-old was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and criminal mischief but eventually was charged with lesser counts of destruction of private property and disturbing the peace, according to court records.
During a one-day jury trial on Tuesday, the owner of the RV testified that he did not see the incident and thought it was an accident, said Corry's attorney, Gregory Robinson.
According to the police report, Corry was loud and riding a motorcycle when he allegedly smashed the window.
Before the jury began deliberating, prosecutors withdrew the count of disturbing the peace, meaning that jurors were deliberating only the destruction-of- private-property charge. The Denver City Attorney's office prosecuted the case.
Shortly after the jury received the case, they returned with a guilty verdict.
But Denver County Judge Raymond Satter then granted a motion from Robinson to overturn the verdict and acquit Corry of the charge. Satter explained that there was not enough evidence to sustain the conviction, Robinson said.
"It was the right decision by the judge," Robinson said. "It's not about gut feelings. It's about applying the facts of the law to the case."
A request by defense attorneys to acquit their client after a guilty verdict is reached is routine in criminal cases, but the decision to allow it is extremely rare, said Aya Gruber, a law professor at the University of Colorado.
Defense attorneys have three opportunities during a trial to argue there is not enough evidence to support charges and move to have them dismissed. The first opportunity is after prosecutors present their evidence, the second is after all the evidence has been shown to the jury, and the last chance is after the jury reads its verdict, Gruber said.
Judges seldom allow cases they feel lack evidence to be deliberated by a jury.
"Basically, what the judge is saying is that the jury misapprehended the facts of the law in coming to this conviction because it just wasn't supported by the evidence," Gruber said.
Corry will return to Denver County Court later this month for a hearing in a different case. Corry faces c harges of public consumption of marijuana and disobedience to a lawful order in connected to his arrest at Coors Field last month.
Jordan Steffen: 303-954-1794, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jsteffendp