Court Opinions – Oct 7, 2019

People v. Delgado 

The Colorado Supreme Court considered whether the elements of robbery and theft from a person are inconsistent, in that a defendant cannot be convicted of both crimes. The court also determined whether, in the case of mutually exclusive guilty verdicts, the proper remedy is a new trial. 

The Supreme Court held that when an essential element of one crime negates an essential element of another, guilty verdicts for those offenses are mutually exclusive and the defendant cannot be convicted of both. 

The jury convicted Johnny Delgado of robbery and theft from a person. Robbery requires force, while theft is the unlawful taking of an item without force. The Colorado Supreme Court found the defendant cannot be convicted of both crimes. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision to grant a new trial. 

Carrera v. People 

The Supreme Court considered whether section 18-1.3-102(1), of the Colorado Revised Statutes, as it read between 2002 and 2012, prevents a trial court from extending a deferred judgment within the maximum statutory period of four years for reasons unrelated to the payment of restitution. 

Because the court determined that the statute is ambiguous, the plain meaning rule is not dispositive. Relying on the statutory history, the purpose behind the enactment of the statute and the consequences of the parties’ differing constructions, the court held that the section does not prohibit a trial court, in the exercise of its discretion, from extending a defendant’s deferred judgment for any legitimate reason and as many times as it deems appropriate, so long as the aggregate period of the deferral does not exceed four years. 

The court further held that when a defendant has been on a deferred judgment for four years, the statute empowers the trial court, in the exercise of its discretion, to extend the deferred judgment for a period not to exceed 180 days, so long as the payment of restitution is the only condition of supervision not yet fulfilled. 

Colorado Court of Appeals

Oct. 3

People v. N.T.B.

In re People v. N.T.B., Dropbox flagged a cloud-storage account that it suspected contained child pornography. The company provided the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with a video and an account identification number, an email address, account activity log and internet protocol address tied to the upload. The center forwarded this information to local police. 

The police served a search warrant on Dropbox, which produced everything stored in the account, and viewed the original video. They also viewed other videos that they believed contained sexually exploitative material along with two still pictures of N.T.B., all of which were in the account. The police traced the IP address to Comcast, the internet service provider, which identified a physical address for the internet account in response to a search warrant. The account was owned by N.T.B.’s then-girlfriend and his roommate. 

A division of the Court of Appeals addressed the admissibility of evidence from a cloud storage account. 

First, the division held that an investigating detective could provide sufficient background to authenticate records produced in response to a search warrant served on the cloud storage and internet service providers under CRE 901. 

Second, the division agreed with the trial court that because these records include statements that constitute hearsay and because the prosecution had not listed a custodian to provide necessary foundation under CRE 803(6), they were inadmissible. 

The division of the Court of Appeals distinguished cases dealing with the admissibility of electronic communications, such as emails and Facebook postings. 

People In the Interest of I.J.O., a Child

In this case, a division of the Court of Appeals concluded that a noncustodial, out-of-state parent’s failure of a home study under the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children does not absolve the county Human Services Department of its obligation to exercise reasonable efforts to rehabilitate that parent and to reunify the family. 

Because it was unclear whether the juvenile court concluded that conducting the home study was sufficient reasonable efforts, the court remanded to the juvenile court to clarify its findings and conclusions. 

M.S.O. (mother) appealed the juvenile court’s judgment terminating the parent-child legal relationship between her and I.J.O. (the child). Mother — who was the child’s noncustodial natural parent and lived out of state — framed the issue as whether the court erred by applying the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children to the potential placement of the child with mother. But the substance of her argument was that the juvenile court erred by permitting the Adams County Human Services Department to absolve itself of the obligation to exercise reasonable efforts to rehabilitate mother and to reunify the family solely because mother failed the ICPC home visit. 

The division, on its own motion, having considered the parties’ briefs, remanded the case to the juvenile court for the limited purpose of allowing the court to clarify its findings supporting termination of mother’s parental rights.

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