Court Opinions- Aug 27, 2018

People v. Lopez

Victor Lopez admitted to stealing a gun from his neighbor. The gun was in the victim’s bathroom, where Lopez found it. While he took the gun, the victim was in an adjacent room. His neighbor was over 70 years old. 

Lopez was charged with theft with the enhancer that committing a crime knowing the victim was over 70 or knowing the victim was nearby. He was sentenced to a year of probation.

The Colorado Revised Statute that was the enhancer in this case is described in the opinion as enhancing “penalties for theft when any element or portion of the offense is committee in the presence of an at-risk person.” 

The court ruled the prosecution presented sufficient evidence that the offense was committed in the presence of the victim, against the defendant’s argument, and affirms the conviction.

People v. Richardson

In this case, the presiding judge’s spouse served on the jury. The court concludes that the spouse’s presence did not amount to a plain error because the defendant was unable to give concrete evidence that the spouse being there created undue prejudice. 

The opinion also said that there is no requirement for the judge to recuse himself when their spouse is on the jury.

The court affirms the conviction resulting from this case.

People v. Jamison

Kyle Jamison was an inmate found to have a toothbrush sharpened at one end and had a razor blade on the other. He was charged with introducing contraband and possessing contraband in the first degree. He was found guilty on both counts.

Jamison contended that the trial court was in error by rejecting the defenses jury instructions on lesser nonincluded offenses, by allowing the prosecutor to refer to the toothbrush as a dangerous instrument and by entering convictions for a greater offense and a lesser included offense.

The court affirms the introducing contraband conviction and vacates the possession contraband conviction as they agree the final contention.

People v. Allgier

Cameron Allgier was convicted of possession of a weapon by a previous offender. He seeks a new trial arguing that the trial court erred by admitting evidence the firearms in question and photos of them, by admitting hearsay statements of a witness, by allowing the prosecutor to mischaracterize the evidence and the law during closing argument, and that the cumulative effect of those errors was prejudicial.

The court found that there was no error in admitting the evidence. They found the witness’s testimony was not problematic. They found the prosecutor’s statements did not warrant reversal. Finally, the court could not determine if any of the claimed errors were prejudicial.

Thibodeau v. Denver City Board of Commissioners

Joseph Thibodeau bought a property in Denver in 2013, which was valued at $803,800 for tax purposes. In 2014 the Denver Assessor’s Office increased the property’s value to just under $1.17 million dollars.

Thibodeau protested the increase at the Denver County Board of Commissioners. He argued the city erred in reassessing the property as no unusual condition existed. His claim was rejected. 

He appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals saying the property value should remain at the 2013 value. The BAA said the 2013 value was done incorrectly, allowing the assessor to correct it.

Thibodeau argues reassessment only can be done with unusual conditions and that the reassessment violated his constitutional right to equal protection. The court rejected both arguments.

Forfar III v. Wal-Mart Stores

This case is one of premises liability and is the first time the question has come up in Colorado. The issue is if the collateral source rule in Colorado Revised statutes applies to Medicare benefits. The court concludes it does.

Robert Forfar III slipped and fell in a Wal-Mart and was awarded $44,000 in damages for the medical services he received. He is a Medicare beneficiary. Wal-Mart wanted the evidence of his services to be limited to the Medicare approved charges for the services. 

Forfar wanted to exclude the evidence of Medicare benefits as they were a collateral source.

Wal-Mart moved to reduce the awards, arguing that they should be reduced to Medicare accepted rates. The trial court denied the motion. Wal-Mart appealed, challenging the ruling, the court affirms the trial court.

Marchant v. Boulder Community Health

The hospital lien statute in Colorado Revised Statutes is at issue here and whether an injured person can sue for twice the amount of an improper lien if the damages payable to the person’s injury even if the lien met the statute’s requirements prior to the suit. 

The court ruled that the General Assembly meant for the penalty to only be applied when the violations to the lien existed when the complaint was filed. 

In this case the plaintiff filed after the hospital met requirements in the lien statute. The court affirmed in favor of the hospital. 

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