Court Opinions- Jul 30, 2018

People v. Loris

Colleen Loris sold methamphetamine to a group of three people. She was given a gun as part of the payment for the drugs. 

All four of the people were smoking the meth as well as drinking in a hotel room. During that, the gun went off in Loris’ hand and killed one of the other people in the room. 

She pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute, manslaughter, and four habitual criminal counts. The habitual criminal sentence multiplier added up to concurrent sentences of 32 years for possession with intent to distribute and 32 years for manslaughter.

Loris, arguing that the district court lacked authority to sentence her under the habitual criminal statute, appealed the case. 

The court concluded that the district court had authority to sentence Loris with the statute, and the sentence was affirmed.

People v. Murray

The defendant’s ex-girlfriend asked him to come to her house to help with an errand, however the two got into an argument instead. The ex-girlfriend and victim told the defendant, Michael Murray to leave. In response, he tried to sexually assault her. 

After chasing a friend of the victim outside the house, Murray was locked out. He broke a window to try to get back into the house.

A jury found him guilty of first-degree burglary, trespass, third-degree assault, false imprisonment, attempted sexual assault, attempted second-degree burglary and criminal mischief.

Murray claims the district court had erred by poorly instructing the jury on burglary and trespass charges, denying his motions for acquittal based on insufficient evidence, and by saying that his credibility could be attacked if he submitted certain evidence. The court affirmed the jury’s verdict.

People v. Donald

Laron Donald was charged with a felony. He posted bond on the condition that he not leave Colorado without court approval. He failed to appear in court on the date announced and was arrested in Mississippi about a month later.

Donald contended that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew of his court date and that he knowingly failed to appear. Also, that the prosecution failed to establish to the same degree that he knew he could not leave Colorado.

The court disagreed with his first contention but agreed with his second. The judgment for failing to appear in court was affirmed. The judgment and sentence for unauthorized travel was vacated.

People v. Yeadon

A jury found Gerald Yeadon guilty of driving under restraint, failure to report an accident or return to the scene, and possession of less than 2 grams of a controlled substance, specifically methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 16 months in custody, and 11 days later, a drug offender surcharge of $1,250 was imposed as well. 

Yeadon argues there was insufficient evidence for his possession conviction, certain statements by the prosecutor fell under misconduct and the late imposition of the surcharge violated his right against double jeopardy.

The court disagreed with each statement and affirmed his conviction and sentence. The case is remanded to the district court, however, to give Yeadon the chance to show he can afford to pay the surcharge.

People v. Senette

The victim in this case failed to appear at trial after being given a subpoena. They were a necessary witness for the trial. The trial court denied the prosecution’s request for a continuance and dismissed the charges against the defendant, Floyd Senette. The prosecutors appealed the case. 

The court concluded the trial court abused its discretion in denying the continuance. The court also states that the dismissal of charges was a consequence of that error. The ruling was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Does # 1-9 v. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Two ranking employees of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment referred nine John Does, who are doctors, to the Colorado Medical Board. This was done to investigate unprofessional conduct regarding how the doctors certified patients for medical marijuana use.

The doctors were concerned that the department and board secretly consulted together to enforce the department’s medical marijuana policy. They brought action claiming the secret consultation violated Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.

The district court dismissed the claims against the board but granted summary judgment on the OML claims against the Department. This declared the medical marijuana policy void.

Neither the Department nor the doctors thought this ruling was correct. The Department asked for reversal of summary judgment and the doctors challenged the dismissal of the claims against the board. 

The court affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the board. It reversed the judgment against the department. The court remanded the case to the district court. 

Prospect Development Company Inc. v. Holland & Knight LLP

During the process of selling undeveloped lots of land, Prospect Development paid for the development of infrastructure to support houses on the land. 

The law firm Holland & Knight wrote up the legally required property reports for any prospective buyers to review. Those reports said the individual purchasers would not be responsible for the costs of infrastructure development. 

In reality, the district that included the lots had agreed to buy the infrastructure from Prospect using property taxes on the lot owners.

After being sued by the landowners and settling out of court, Prospect sued H&K for professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty for not disclosing the taxes in the reports and for misleading Prospect on the legality of the reports. H&K stated that the statute of limitations was up for those charges.

The district court ruled that the statute of limitations had passed for those charges, and dismissed them. The court reversed the dismissal of charges and remanded the case to district court.

Twilight Ridge LLC v. Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County et al

Twilight Ridge is made up of two people, Elmo and Patricia Robinson. Through their company, they bought two contiguous parcels of land. One had a home on it and the other was an undeveloped lot.

The La Plata County Assessor classified the undeveloped parcel, as vacant land. Vacant land is taxed at a higher rate than residential. The Robinsons did not want to pay higher taxes and appealed the assessment. The two boards that the Robinsons appealed to upheld the County Assessor’s classification and did not reclassify the land.

There were no intentions by the Robinsons to develop the vacant plot, wanting a buffer from neighbors and an unobstructed view north. These reasons, among others, were not sufficient to the Board of Assessment Appeals to designate it as residential.

The court affirmed the orders of the BAA denying petitions challenging the classification of the property for the 2014 to 2016 tax years.

Boudette v. State of Colorado

An officer of the Southwest Drug Task Force used a search warrant to search a farm property, where Gregory Boudette was a caretaker. The search warrant was to determine if the farm was used to illegally grow marijuana. 

The officers took Boudette’s cellphone, computer, notebooks, antique muskets, titles to his vehicles, British pounds, euros and passport. He never had charges filed against him.

Boudette argued these items did not fall under the search warrant’s parameters. The warrant was for property that was stolen, property designed or intended for use or had been used as a means of committing a crime, or would be material evidence in a criminal prosecution.

The district court dismissed Boudette’s claim for lack of standing.

The court states that Boudette had standing to bring a motion for the return of his property under criminal procedure. The case was remanded for the district court to resolve whether the property was unlawfully seized.

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