The appellant was convicted by a jury of first-degree sexual assault.
A detailed factual discussion of this sexual attack would serve no useful purpose. Only those facts necessary to our decision will be discussed.
I. Constitutionality of Section 18-3-407, C.R.S. 1973 (1977 Supp.).
The appellant first questions the constitutionality of Colorado's "rape shield" statute, section 18-3-407, C.R.S. 1973 (1977 Supp.).
A. Separation of Powers and Court's Rulemaking Power.
The concept of separation of powers is well-established in Colorado. The Colorado Constitution, in Article III, generally provides that the executive, legislative, and judicial departments each shall exercise only its own powers. In addition, Colo. Const., Art. VI, sec. 21, expressly recognizes this court's rulemaking power:
Before adoption, in 1962, of the above-quoted constitutional provision, this court's rulemaking authority was acknowledged as an inherent power essential for the administration of the court system. See, e. g., Kolkman v. People, 89 Colo. 8, 32-33, 300 P. 575, 584 (1931); Walton v. Walton, 86 Colo. 1, 278 P. 780 (1929); cf. Smith v. Miller, 153 Colo. 35, 384 P.2d 738 (1963). In this case, the question is whether section 18-3-407, supra, represents a legislative usurpation of powers belonging exclusively to the supreme court. We hold that it does not.
Even in states such as Colorado, in which the constitution expressly grants to the supreme court the power to promulgate rules governing court procedure, the question remains whether a particular rule or statute is "procedural" or "substantive." See, e. g., People v. Smith, 182 Colo. 228, 512 P.2d 269 (1973). Although numerous tests have been proposed to assist in making such a determination, none has been uniformly accepted. See Peterson, Rule Making in Colorado: An Unheralded Crisis in Procedural Reform, 38 U.Colo.L.Rev. 137 (1965) (hereinafter referred to as Peterson). See also Joiner & Miller, Rules of Practice and Procedure: A Study of Judicial Rule Making, 55 Mich.L.Rev. 623 (1957) (hereinafter referred to as Joiner & Miller); Levin and Amsterdam, Legislative Control Over Judicial Rule-Making: A Problem in Constitutional Revision, 107 U.Pa.L.Rev. 1 (1958).
One basic and widely-recognized test for distinguishing procedural from substantive matters has been stated as follows:
Even under such a test, however, the characterization of any particular rule or statute can be subjected to substantial disagreement, and the characterization may vary depending on the application of the rule or statute to the facts of a particular case. Peterson, supra at 162-63. See People v. Smith, supra.
The statute here at issue cannot be characterized as either purely substantive and thus entirely within the legislature's power, or purely procedural and thus subject solely to this court's rulemaking power. Rather it is "mixed" in nature. Obviously, to a certain extent it regulates the judicial function of designating the method for determining the relevance, and thus the admissibility, of evidence. In so doing it changes established rules governing admissibility of the kind of evidence with which it deals.
Prior to the enactment of this statute, defense counsel in a rape case was accorded wide latitude in cross-examining the prosecutrix. Since her credibility was placed in issue when she testified, her prior sexual conduct was considered admissible to undermine her credibility. See Struna v. People, 121 Colo. 348, 353, 215 P.2d 905 (1950) (dictum); 3A J. Wigmore, Evidence § 929a (Chadbourn rev.ed. 1970). Moreover, where consent was a defense, as it frequently was, it was thought that the fact that she had consented to sexual relations with others on other occasions might justify a factfinder in concluding that she probably had consented to the sexual act giving rise to the prosecution. 1 J. Wigmore, Evidence § 62 (3d Ed. 1940). Little or no analysis was applied to attempting to discern whether her sexual habits actually had any logical connection with her credibility or whether her prior consent to intercourse with another at a different time had any logical bearing on whether she had consented to sexual relations with the particular man on trial at the time charged.
The basic purpose of section 18-3-407, therefore, is one of public policy: to provide rape and sexual assault victims greater protection from humiliating and embarrassing public "fishing expeditions" into their past sexual conduct, without a preliminary showing that evidence thus elicited will be relevant to some issue in the pending case. The statute represents one means chosen by the general assembly to overcome the reluctance of victims of sex crimes to report them for prosecution. Thus it reflects a major public policy decision by the general assembly regarding sexual assault cases. In effect the legislature has declared the state's policy to be that victims of sexual assaults should not be subjected to psychological or emotional abuse in court as the price of their cooperation in prosecuting sex offenders.
This statute represents the Colorado General Assembly's response to a national trend which began in 1974 to reform procedures governing state prosecutions of various sexual assaults.
Seen in the light of the policy it embodies, the statute represents far more than merely a legislative attempt to regulate the day-to-day procedural operation of the courts. Undoubtedly it would have been well within this court's rulemaking power to have adopted by rule the procedure set forth in the statute. But we have not adopted such a rule, nor have we promulgated any rule in conflict with the statute. We must decide whether our duty to uphold the state constitution, and our rulemaking power there granted, compel us to invalidate this statute and thus not only undo its procedural provisions but also frustrate the policy changes it represents.
As Chief Justice Marshall declared:
Although certain aspects of the instant statute necessarily touch upon judicial matters, we recognize that legislative policy and judicial rulemaking powers may overlap to some extent so long as there is no substantial conflict between statute and rule. Peterson, supra, at 162. While the three branches of our government are separate, equal and coordinate, they are nevertheless branches of one government, and they cannot operate in mutually exclusive, watertight compartments. If government is to serve the people, each branch must seek to cooperate fully with the other two. Confrontations of constitutional authority are seldom in the long-term public interest and therefore are to be avoided where possible. Rather, mutual understanding, respect and self-restraint, the lubricants of good government, are to be sought. While our duty may occasionally require us to declare unconstitutional a statute adopted by the general assembly, we hold that power in reserve to be exercised only when the statute at issue cannot be reconciled with the constitution.
Therefore, in the absence of any conflicting rule adopted by this court, and in view of the instant statute's mixed policy and procedural nature, we hold that section 18-3-407, C.R.S. 1973 (1977 Supp.), does not unconstitutionally intrude into matters exclusively judicial nor violate Colo. Const., Art. III, or Art. VI, sec. 21.
B. Right to Confront Adverse Witnesses.
The appellant also contends that even if section 18-3-407, supra, does not violate separation of powers limitations, it denies him his right to confront his accuser. U.S. Const., Amend. XIV. He argues that questioning the complaining witness regarding her prior sexual history is necessary to his defense of consent, and would reveal evidence relevant and material to his case.
While we agree that evidence of a rape victim's sexual conduct may be relevant and material in certain cases,
Thus, rather than completely denying the defendant's rights in order to protect the victim's privacy interest, the statute strikes a balance by conditioning admission of evidence of the victim's sexual history on the defendant's preliminary showing that it is relevant. It involves no denial of the defendant's right to confront his accuser for there is no constitutional right to introduce irrelevant and highly inflammatory evidence. E. g., People v. Blackburn, 56 Cal.App.3d 685, 128 Cal.Rptr. 864 (1976); Smith v. Com., 566 S.W.2d 181 (Ky.App.1978). See also People v. Simbolo, 188 Colo. 49, 532 P.2d 962. But cf. Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 94 S.Ct. 1105, 39 L.Ed.2d 347 (1974) (state's policy prohibiting use of juvenile's record to impeach him held subordinate to defendant's right to confront accusers).
In this case, the appellant failed to make the required offer of proof, but rather sought by motion to have the statute declared unconstitutional. He never indicated,
II. Constitutionality of Section 13-90-101, C.R.S. 1973.
The appellant next challenges the constitutionality of section 13-90-101, C.R.S. 1973, which provides in pertinent part that "the conviction of any person for any felony may be shown for the purpose of affecting the credibility of such witness." He asserts that the trial court's denial of his motion to prohibit the prosecution's use of his two prior felony convictions
We have previously upheld the constitutionality of section 13-90-101 and its predecessors in the face of various challenges. As we stated in People v. Yeager, 182 Colo. 397, 403, 513 P.2d 1057, 1060 (1973):
See also Hubbard v. Wilson, 401 F.Supp. 495 (D.Colo.1975); People v. Casey, 185 Colo. 58, 521 P.2d 1250 (1974); Velarde v. People, 179 Colo. 207, 500 P.2d 125 (1972); Taylor v. People, 176 Colo. 316, 490 P.2d 292 (1971); Lee v. People, 170 Colo. 268, 460 P.2d 796 (1969).
III. Sufficiency of the Evidence.
The appellant was convicted of first-degree sexual assault, in violation of section 18-3-402(1)(a), C.R.S. 1973 (1977 Supp.), which provides:
The appellant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence identifying him as the actor or showing sexual penetration. He contends, however, that there was insufficient evidence of physical force or violence.
After reviewing the entire record, we have concluded that the evidence of physical force was sufficient to support a finding of the appellant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The victim testified that: (1) she told the appellant she wasn't interested in having sexual relations, (2) she struggled with him, (3) he hit her in the stomach, (4) he held her hands forcibly together, (5) he bent her thumb backward until it hurt, and (6) he choked her until she could barely breathe. Further, she testified that when she said, "I'll scream," he replied, "If you do, it will be the last time you do." The physician who examined the victim corroborated her version of the incident. He testified that at the time of the examination, the victim's thumb was tender and she had an abdominal abrasion near the ribs which had been caused by external force.
IV. Jury Instructions.
Finally, the appellant argues that the trial court erred in refusing to give his tendered "theory of the case" instruction. The trial court deleted part of the tendered instruction, but it did give a form of it, and several other instructions given dealt with aspects of the appellant's consent theory. Moreover, the deleted portions of the appellant's tendered instruction were clearly argumentative, and would have improperly emphasized certain portions of the victim's testimony. Therefore, it was not error to refuse to give the requested instruction. E. g., Winters v. People, 174 Colo. 91, 482 P.2d 385 (1971); Schreiner v. People, 146 Colo. 19, 360 P.2d 443 (1961).
Accordingly, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.
GROVES, J., concurs in the result.
A federally financed study completed in March, 1978, found that: