Court Opinions- Jan 21, 2019

Colorado v. Medved

John and Debra Medved challenged the Colorado Department of Revenue on the claim that the statute of limitations period ended for their ability to report conservation easement for tax credit. The department disallowed their credit since the transferees claimed credit for land before the land donor did. The Medved family claimed the department disallowed it too late, after their period to claim the credit had already ended. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the decision from the Court of Appeals and decided that the statute of limitations begins when the donor first claims the conservation easement for tax credit. 

Justice Brian Boatright did not participate in the decision.

People v. Burnett 

After a Colorado State Patrol trooper pulled over a car for what was perceived to be an illegal lane change, it was discovered that Devon Burnett, a passenger in the vehicle, was illegally in possession of a handgun, methamphetamine and other drug paraphernalia. She was then charged with possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance and illegal possession of a weapon. Burnett had prior convictions of unlawful firearm possession. The plaintiff argued that the search of the car was unlawful since the officer did not have a justified cause to pull over the driver and search the vehicle in the first place. 

Under Colorado traffic regulations, it is not required for someone to signal for a significant distance before a lane change. The driver of the vehicle signaled twice in a 200-foot distance, therefore following Colorado law. Because of this, the defense argued that the officer had no ground to pull the driver and Burnett over in the first place. 

The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with lower courts and decided that the evidence found in the vehicle was obtained through an illegal search and cannot be used to convict Burnett of the charges. Justice Brian Boatright and Chief Justice Nathan Coats dissented to the ruling. Justice Brian Boatright dissented because he believed that the officer’s objectivity was reasonable. 

COGCC v. Martinez

With consideration to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, a new regulation was proposed that would make drilling for oil and gas illegal in places where it would have negative effects on Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, land or overall human health. The legislation would also bar any production that contributes to climate change in the state. Third-party organizations would need to confirm that the drilling site was harmless to the Colorado environment.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission originally proposed the idea to interested parties before finally deciding not to enact the rule. Respondents and youth activists were upset about the decision not to enact the rule and challenged the commission’s ruling at the Denver District court, where the commission’s ruling was upheld. But, when challenged, the Court of Appeals reversed the order.   

The Colorado Supreme Court decided that Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was justified in its decision to decline the proposed regulation despite the respondent’s claims that the commission’s decision was an “abuse of discretion.” 

People in Interest of D.Z.B

Arapahoe County Department of Human Services attempted to challenge a district court’s decision to place a repeat juvenile offender in its custody in temporary housing after breaking probation. There was a conflict regarding if the Department of Human Services had the standing to challenge a district court’s custody and decision. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that since Arapahoe County Department of Human Services wasn’t present for the proceedings of lower courts, the division could only intervene and have jurisdiction if it was substantially aggravated by the court’s decision. The Supreme Court found that the division conflated the test to evaluate whether a plaintiff has standing to bring a lawsuit with the test to determine whether a non-party has standing to appeal a decision of a lower court. The court reversed and remanded for the division to apply the correct standing analysis and to consider any other remaining arguments. 

Justice Brian Boatright did not participate in the decision.

School Dist. No. 1 v. Denver Classroom Teachers Association 

English Language Acquisition Training allows teachers to assist students who have limited English skills or are not proficient in the language. The Denver Teacher’s Association challenged the School District No. 1 when it came to payment for ELA training. The teacher’s association insisted that they should be paid for time spent in the training sessions. The trial court found the language used in the school district’s contracts and agreements was vague, and a jury found in favor of the association. The Supreme Court affirmed the outcomes from lower courts and agreed that the school district must pay teachers for the time spent in training.

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