Court Opinions: Colorado Supreme Court Opinions for April 8

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

People v. Brandon Bohler

Brandon Mason Bohler stabbed his roommate to death and then walked down a four-lane street until he encountered police officers dispatched on a welfare check. After a brief exchange, the officers arrested Bohler. He later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to first-degree murder. After a motions hearing, the district court suppressed the statements Bohler made during the pre-arrest exchange.

The Colorado Supreme Court needed to decide whether the district court erred in suppressing those statements. According to the court opinion, the answer depended on whether Bohler was in custody for Miranda purposes when he made the statements. 

The state Supreme Court held Bohler wasn’t in custody for Miranda purposes prior to being handcuffed. Officers encountered Bohler walking down a four-lane street on a March night and inquired into the concerning amount of blood on his shirt and arms. The officers’ actions and demeanor objectively resembled a welfare check, according to the court. The opinion noted the officers didn’t tell Bohler he was under arrest, didn’t touch, accuse or threaten Bohler and didn’t draw their weapons and the exchange lasted less than six minutes. The Supreme Court concluded a reasonable person in Bohler’s position wouldn’t have believed their freedom of movement was restricted to the degree associated with formal arrest. 

The court reversed the portion of the district court’s order suppressing Bohler’s initial statements and remanded the case. 

Mark Kinslow v. Daniala Mohammadi 

On Nov. 6, 2015, Mark Kinslow hit 16-year-old Daniala Mohammadi with his car while she was riding her bicycle. Mohammadi sued Kinslow on Dec. 30, 2019 — more than two years, but less than three years, after she turned 18. Kinslow moved to dismiss the suit, arguing the statute of limitations expired two years after Mohammadi’s 18th birthday. Mohammadi responded the usual three-year statute of limitations for motor vehicle accidents hadn’t started to run until her 18th birthday.

The Colorado Supreme Court concluded the plain language of Section 13-81-103(1)(c) of the Colorado Revised Statutes gives a plaintiff who turns 18 within the three-year limitation period for a motor vehicle accident a statute of limitations that is the longer of either the full three years normally accorded an accident victim, or two years from their 18th birthday. For Mohammadi, the court determined this meant she was required to bring her claim by Jan. 1, 2019 — two years after she turned 18. 

Because her suit was filed after that date, the state Supreme Court found it was untimely. It reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss.

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