Court Opinions- Feb 11, 2019

People v. Ramirez

This case has been remanded from the Supreme Court. That court instructed the Court of Appeals to reconsider the prior division’s opinion in this case in light of the decision in People v. Rediger.

Joe Anthony Ramirez was convicted in one trial of charges stemming from four consolidated criminal cases. He was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, attempted reckless manslaughter, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, engaging in a riot, illegal discharge of a fi rearm, theft by receiving, vehicular eluding and possession with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance.

The court imposed a combination of consecutive and concurrent sentences totaling 88 years.

In Ramirez I, the division affirmed his conviction of all charges. After receiving the Supreme Court’s order of remand, the Court of Appeals requested supplemental briefing from the parties as to the application of Rediger.

The Court of Appeals said in the opinion that the Supreme Court decision has potential effect only on the disposition of the conviction for first degree assault. The Court of Appeals concluded that defense counsel’s error in declining to object to an inapplicable jury instruction amounted to a forfeiture, as described in Rediger, and not a waiver, as described in the prior division’s opinion. The court concluded that the error amounted to prejudicial plain error and reversed the conviction of first-degree assault and remanded for a new trial only for that charge.

People v. Burlingame

The state appealed the trial court’s dismissal of charges against the defendant, Jasmine Burlingame, based on outrageous government conduct. The court reversed and remanded with directions.

Burlingame was charged with two counts of attempting to influence a public servant and one count of false reporting after she reported an alleged rape by a coworker’s roommate. DNA evidence showed Burlingame had sexual contact not with the roommate, but with the coworker.

The trial court dismissed the case against Burlingame on the grounds of outrageous government conduct, and declined to rule on Burlingame’s request to suppress a videotape of investigators’ interview of her. The court based its finding based on the fact that the interview was videotaped and the fact that the prosecutors repeatedly used the work product privilege to block any evidence showing why they chose to videotape the interview or to explain their decision-making process in fi ling the charges against Burlingame. The Court of Appeals found the trial court’s factual findings did not support its finding of outrageous government conduct and instructed the trial court to reinstate the charges against Burlingame.

Martin Trust v. Board of County Commissioners

James and Virginia Martin bought two adjacent parcels of land in 2000 in La Plata County. For tax year 2014, the Martin Family Partnership, LLLP held the title to the west parcel and the Martins held the title to the residential parcel as joint tenants.

The Partnership and the Martins thereafter transferred title to both parcels to the Martin Trust, which held the titles for tax years 2015 to 2016.

For tax years 2014 to 2016 the county assessor classified the west parcel as vacant land, and the trust sought to have it reclassified as residential land.

The Board of Equalization and Board of County Commissioners denied the Martins’ appeal of the county assessor’s decision.

The Board of Assessment Appeals upheld the west parcel’s classification as vacant land, finding the two parcels were not under common ownership because they were separately titled and the owners were “separate and distinct legal entities.”

The Martin trust appealed the orders of the Board of Assessment Appeals partly denying its request to reclassify a parcel of its land as residential for property tax purposes. The Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County and the Board of Equalization of La Plata County cross-appealed the order.

In separate opinions, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Board of Assessment Appeals’ classification of the trust’s west parcel as vacant land, reversed the remaining BAA orders, and remanded with directions.

Parks v. Parrish

James Parks III appealed an unfavorable outcome in his malpractice case against his former attorney, defendant Edward Parrish, and Parrish’s limited liability company and law firm, Edward Dale Parrish LLC.

Park contended the district court erred by denying his motion for directed verdict (and subsequent motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict) on defendants’ abuse of process counterclaim, dismissing his breach of fiduciary duty claim, denying his motion for directed verdict on defendants’ breach of contract counterclaim, and awarding defendants their costs for an expert witness. The Court of Appeals agreed with Parks’ first contention, but disagreed with his second, third, and fourth contentions. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and vacated in part.

In re the Interest of Arguello

In this adult guardianship appointment case, a prospective guardian, Fe Ana Balsick, and her employer, Colorado Bluesky Enterprises, Inc., appealed the district court’s order suasponte appointing the Arc of Pueblo as the permanent guardian for Louis “Barney” Arguello, the incapacitated person.

The court was asked to answer a novel question: Must the district court appoint a court visitor and follow the statutory vetting procedures outlined in sections 15-14-304 and -305, C.R.S. 2018, before it can appoint a guardian for an incapacitated person? The court said yes.

The court held the district court is required to appoint a visitor for every petition for guardianship filed and all prospective guardians must undergo the statutorily mandated process outlined in sections 15-14-304 and -305 before the court can appoint a guardian. Because the Arc of Pueblo was not subjected to this statutory vetting process, the court reversed the district court’s order and remand for further proceedings.

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