Court Opinions- Apr 8, 2019

People v. Perez

Marcus Perez appealed the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of second-degree assault on a peace officer and four counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a previous offender. 

Perez had been arrested during a traffic stop where he attempted to run from police on foot and then attacked the arresting officers. 

After handcuffing Perez, an officer frisked him and found two shotgun shells in his pocket. Before advising him of his Miranda rights, the officer asked Perez where the gun was. Perez said he threw it away. Perez contended that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the incriminating statements he made after his arrest and before police advised him of his Miranda rights. 

The court concluded that, although admission of the statement was erroneous, reversal was not required. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded with directions.

State v. Castle Law Group

The State of Colorado and the State’s Administrator of the Uniform Commercial Code brought a civil law enforcement action against Castle Law Group and its principals, Lawrence Castle and Caren Castle; Absolute Posting & Process Services and its principals, Ryan O’Connell and Kathleen Benton; and RE Records Research. 

Following a bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of defendants on all but one claim. The state appealed the trial court’s judgment on its unsuccessful claims. 

The division of the Court of Appeals that heard the case rejected the state’s assertion that the trial court disregarded the law of the case doctrine because it did not follow the Supreme Court’s decision in State ex rel. Coffman v. Castle Law Group. 

The division also concluded that the trial court did not err when it did not require two nonparty witnesses to take the witness stand to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights or draw an adverse inference against the law firm based on the witnesses’ invocation of their Fifth Amendment rights. 

The division agreed that the trial court erred when it assessed civil penalties against the law firm under the Consumer Protection Act. The division concluded that the state had to show that an alleged deceptive practice significantly impacted the public as an actual or potential consumer but failed in doing so.

The division reversed that part of the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court to vacate the judgment against the law firm. The Court of Appeals affirmed this part of the judgment. As to the state’s one successful claim, the trial court assessed civil penalties against the Castle Law Group and its principals under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. The law firm filed a cross-appeal challenging this ruling.  The Court of Appeals reversed this portion of the trial court’s judgment and remanded to the trial court to vacate the judgment against the law firm.

Houchin v. Denver Health

This case required the Court of Appeals to decide whether the claims of plaintiff Brent Houchin brought under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act against Denver Health and Hospital Authority, a political subdivision of the State of Colorado, are subject to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. In City of Colorado Springs v. Conners, the Colorado Supreme Court held that CADA claims were not subject to the CGIA.

But CADA was amended in 2013 to include legal remedies for the first time. Denver Health claimed that, applying the rationale in Conners to the amendments made to CADA in 2013, CADA claims are no longer exempt from CGIA coverage. 

The Court of Appeals agreed in part with Denver Health and reversed that portion of the district court’s order denying governmental immunity to the plaintiff’s claim seeking legal remedies. But, following Conners, the court affirmed the district court’s order to the extent it allows Houchin to pursue equitable remedies against Denver Health.

Murr v. City and County of Denver

Randy Murr and Devin Sparks, two Denver Police Department officers formerly employed by the City and County of Denver appealed the district court’s order upholding their termination from the DPD for committing deceptive acts in connection with an incident involving excessive use of force. They argued that the Civil Service Commission of the City and County of Denver erroneously interpreted the Charter of the City and County of Denver to grant the manager of safety implied authority to reopen their disciplinary matter, rescind the discipline previously imposed, and order more severe penalties, all after the order became final and the time for appealing it had expired. The Court of Appeals agreed with the officers.

Rechberger v Boulder County

David Rechberger, Nicollette Munson, Rolf Munson, Laurel Hyde Boni, Dinah McKay, Donald Sherwood, William Swafford Jr., Marilyn Kepes, Donald Wrege and Douglas Johnson alleged that the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners and the Boulder County Housing Authority reneged on promises it made in a 1993 campaign to solicit support for a referred ballot measure raising taxes for the purchase and maintenance of “open space” around their community. 

The district court granted a motion to dismiss from the county ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue, and failed to state, claims for breach of contract and fraudulent conveyance; were barred by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, from pursuing their fraudulent conveyance claim; and otherwise failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted for promissory estoppel and declaratory or injunctive relief. 

They appealed the district court’s order dismissing their complaint against the county for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Court of Appeals affirmed

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