Court Opinions- Jul 16, 2018

People v. Liggett

This case was a direct appeal on two cases regarding Ari Misha Liggett. The cases regarded Liggett committing first-degree murder and the revocation of Liggett’s probation resulting from that crime.

Liggett’s counsel requested a stay on two things based on the defendant’s incompetence. First, a stay for appellate proceedings. Second, a stay on Liggett’s request to fire his counsel and dismiss the appeal. The defendant’s counsel asked the division to remand the cases to district court for competency restoration.

The court, Liggett’s counsel and the prosecutors all agreed that an incompetent defendant is unable to waive their right to counsel or to a direct appeal. The court stated they couldn’t rule on those requests until competency is restored.

The opinion went on to say that when a defendant becomes legally incompetent after the appeal is filed, the appeal cannot be stayed indefinitely. Also, the opinion said that the court can hear the appeal while the competence restoration proceedings are done in district court.

People v. Lujan

The defendant, Abel Lujan, was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. In court, he admitted responsibility yet argued the crime was reckless manslaughter and not first-degree murder.

One of Lujan’s former girlfriends and his ex-wife both testified to Lujan physically abusing them. The trial court gave the jury instructions that their testimonies can only be used for judgment in a limited way.

When the jury asked for a written reiteration of the limits, the trial court gave the defense the choice to have written instruction sent or to have the courtroom cleared while the instructions were read to the jury. The rationale being that the jury could not come before the parties during deliberation. The defense chose the latter option.

The defense appealed because the closure of the courtroom violated Lujan’s right to a public trial, as only the judge, bailiff, court reporter and the jury were allowed in the courtroom during the reading. The defense also argued that the trial court had erred in its evidentiary decisions.

The court ruled the right to a public trial was violated. Lujan’s conviction was reversed and the case is remanded for a new trial.

People v. Lindsey

William Arthur Lindsey convinced six people to invest $3 million into a made up invention using bioluminescence in light signs. Lindsey spent the money repaying other investors and on personal expenses. He was convicted on eight counts of securities fraud and four counts of theft.

Lindsey stated that the trial court was wrong to not order a competency evaluation when his counsel motioned for it. Lindsey’s attorney said Lindsey lacked rational understanding of what was happening and could not help with his defense. 

The court vacated the judgment and remanded the case so that competency could be determined.

Lopez v. City of Grand Junction

While contractors hired by the City of Grand Junction were doing underground maintenance on a public traffic light, a natural gas line was damaged. The gas caused a house to explode, causing injuries. 

The court determined that a Colorado Revised Statute section 24-10-106(1)(f) could be used to waive the immunity of the city, even though an independent contractor was at fault.

People in Interest of D.C.C, D.I.C., and D.R-B., Children

The Department of Human Services in Weld County wanted to find if a child was being neglected and to determine parentage. The Department named A.M.G. as the father in a petition. The mother and stepmother of the child were addicted to methamphetamine, were domestic abusers and were in and out of jail. No one disputed that A.M.G. was the biological father.

A child support court determined through genetic testing that A.M.G. was not the father, giving custody to the stepmother. The dependency and neglect court did not challenge this.

The court stated that the dependency and neglect court has jurisdiction over decisions for the status of a child who came through that court, concluding said court was wrong to dismiss the father from the parentage petition based on findings of another court.

Moore v. Colorado Department of Corrections

A prisoner, L.R. Moore, filed a petition under a Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure against the Colorado Department of Corrections and the warden of his prison. The petition said the parole board that deferred his parole abused its discretion.

The warden and the CDOC moved for dismissal, saying the district court the case was filed in lacked jurisdiction over the parole board and that they were not who should be challenged in this matter.

The district court granted the defendants’ motion and dismissed the case. The court affirmed the district court’s ruling.

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