Court Opinions- Jan 07, 2019

People v. Jaeb

Mark Jaeb was convicted of theft of property for renting a U-Haul trailer and not returning it. He appealed his conviction of one count of theft of property under section 18-4-401(1)(b) and 2(g), of the Colorado Revised Statutes in an amount between $5,000 and $20,000 as a class 5 felony. He separately appealed the portion of the order directing restitution for damage to the stolen property in the amount of $289.05. 

At trial, the prosecution presented the witness with a notarized affidavit signed by a manager of the equipment recovery/records department at U-Haul International, attesting that the replacement cost of the trailer at issue was $6,427 and its actual cash value was $6,748.

Defense counsel objected to admission of the document on the grounds of hearsay, lack of personal knowledge and authentication. On appeal, Jaeb argued that the exhibit was inadmissible hearsay and was admitted in violation of his rights under the Confrontation Clauses. He also claimed that because the exhibit was the only evidence for the value of the trailer, his conviction must be reversed for insufficient evidence.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of the value of the stolen property and reversed his conviction for the class 5 felony and remanded for entry of conviction on a lesser scheduled offense. But because the prosecution presented adequate proof that Jaeb’s conduct was the proximate cause of damage to the property, the court affirmed the order of restitution.

People v. Garcia

Tanya Marie Garcia appealed the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding her guilty of one count of felony menacing, seven counts of reckless endangerment and one count of reckless driving. 

On appeal, Garcia contended that the trial court erred in denying her challenge for cause as to J.P., a juror, because his position on the credibility of children prevented him from being fair and impartial. In response, the People first argued that Garcia invited the error of which she complained by failing to use a peremptory challenge to excuse J.P. and that any potential error should not be reviewable on appeal. In the alternative, the People argued that the trial court properly denied Garcia’s challenge for cause. The Court of Appeals found in favor of Garcia on the invited error issue but affirmed Garcia’s conviction.

People v. Vargas-Reyes

Gustavo Adolfo Vargas-Reyes, appealed the denial of a Crim. P. 35(c) motion, which he filed 17 years after the judgment of conviction and 11 years after his first Crim. P. 35(c) motion. However, before resolving Vargas-Reyes’ claim, the Court of Appeals had to first determine whether he had sought relief in the correct court. The Court of Appeals determined that his motion was resolved by a county court judge and lacked jurisdiction and thus dismissed the appeal.

Trujillo v. RTD

Kelly Trujillo filed a complaint alleging that she was injured while attempting to catch a shuttle bus at the Mall Bus Turnaround located at Civic Center Station in downtown Denver. when she stepped on a tree grate that was not properly secured and fell.

RTD filed a C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss based on its assertion of governmental immunity pursuant to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. After receiving briefing on the motion from both sides, the court denied the request for a hearing and the motion. RTD filed this interlocutory appeal.

The Regional Transportation District appealed from the trial court’s denial of its C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings.

In the Matter of the Estate of Louis Rabin

The Court of Appeals was asked to reconcile two seemingly inconsistent long-standing legal maxims: (1) that the attorney-client privilege survives the death of the client and (2) that a decedent’s personal representative has a right to take possession of all of the decedent’s property. 

Petitioner, Claudine Rabin, as personal representative of the estate of her late husband, Louis Rabin, asserted that she had a right to possession of legal files in the possession of respondent, Mark Freirich, who was Louis’ former attorney. Freirich countered that Claudine’s request would violate Louis’ attorney-client privilege, which survives his death.

The Court of Appeals concluded that because the two maxims can coexist, they are not in conflict. Therefore, the latter rule should have been given effect in this case, and Claudine should have been given the files. Accordingly, the court reversed the order quashing her subpoena for the files and the award of attorney fees but otherwise affirmed.

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