Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for Sept. 1

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

Jompp v. Warden of Sterling Prison, et al.

Chris Jompp is a Colorado state prisoner convicted of third-degree assault, robbery and escape. At sentencing, the court found prosecutors proved several habitual-criminal counts and increased his sentence accordingly. Jompp unsuccessfully appealed to the state court, then district court and in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sought a certificate of appealability on the grounds that he was denied a speedy trial and that he was denied a jury trial on the habitual-offender allegations. 

The Colorado Court of Appeals reviewed Jompp’s Sixth Amendment speedy-trial claim for plain error because defense counsel failed to argue its elements at trial or during a trial continuance hearing. The federal district court concluded that the Colorado Court of Appeals reasonably weighed related factors and that Jompp hadn’t argued its decision contradicted any Supreme Court precedent. The court said Jompp’s mere disagreement with the outcome of that weighing process was not a basis for habeas relief.

In his request for a certificate of appealability to the 10th Circuit, Jompp contended that the charges against him should’ve been dismissed because he wasn’t responsible for the trial delay, he objected to the prosecution’s request for a continuance and he was incarcerated for the entire 13-month period from his arrest to the trial. But the state Court of Appeals accounted for this and the 10th Circuit said Jompp didn’t provide an argument that the Court of Appeals weighed those circumstances contrary to precedent. 

Jompp also argued that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated when a judge, rather than a jury, found him to be a habitual criminal and imposed an enhanced sentence. The Colorado Court of Appeals reviewed this argument for plain error, as Jompp failed to raise it at trial, and found no error. The district court determined that the Court of Appeals properly rejected Jompp’s argument because the Sixth Amendment doesn’t require a jury to find prior convictions. 

The 10th Circuit denied a certificate and dismissed Jompp’s appeal because he didn’t present  “a reasoned, non-frivolous argument on the law and facts in support of the issues raised on appeal.” 

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