Court Opinions- Nov 26, 2019

People v. Sandoval

Floyd Sandoval appealed the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of felony murder, aggravated robbery and menacing. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Sandoval contended that the trial court violated his constitutional right to due process when it declined to instruct the jury in accordance with Rosemond v. U.S. that an alleged felony murder complicitor must know in advance of the occurrence of the predicate felony that another participant intends to commit. The Court of Appeals concluded that Rosemond did not apply to Colorado’s complicity statute. 

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Sandoval also asserted the trial court violated his constitutional rights to a fair trial and impartial jury when it allowed the prosecutor to use a partial reconstruction of the crime scene as a demonstrative aid and the prosecutor committed misconduct by mis-stating the law of complicity as well as key evidence to undermine the defense.

People In Interest of A.C.E-D.

In this case, the Court of Appeals considered whether the previous iteration of the competency statute for juveniles, section 19-2-1301(2) of C.R.S. 2015, is facially unconstitutional or unconstitutional as applied here because it incorporated the definition of “incompetent to proceed” for adults in criminal proceedings set out in section 16-8.5-101(11), C.R.S. 2015.This question came up as A.C.E.-D, a juvenile, attempted to gain dismissal of the misdemeanor theft and harassment charges against him, asserting these statutes did not allow the court to consider his age and maturity. 

The trial court rejected his constitutional arguments, found him competent to proceed and convicted him of both charges, resulting in his adjudication and sentencing.

On appeal, A.C.E-D. challenged the adjudication on the same constitutional grounds. Alternatively, he asserted that the juvenile court abused its discretion in finding him competent. 

He also asserted evidentiary error in authenticating Facebook messages that supposedly constituted harassment and a one-year discrepancy between the dates of those messages as charged in the amended petition and as proven. The Attorney General conceded preservation of the constitutional and evidentiary contentions. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

People v. Ray

When a statute says that a defendant owes interest at a rate of 12 percent per annum on his restitution obligation, does that mean the Colorado Judicial Department can only require him to make one interest payment per year? Defendant Matthew Ray thought so. The Colorado Court of Appeals did not.

In July 2015, the Judicial Department sent a letter saying it would begin charging Ray interest at “1 percent per month” on any outstanding restitution balance. Ray responded by asking the trial court for an order declaring that the Judicial Department did not have the statutory authority to charge him monthly interest. The trial court declined.

Ray appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

People v. Jacobs

A jury convicted Wayne Jacobs of distribution and conspiracy to distribute a schedule II controlled substance. The trial court then found that the prosecution had proved five habitual criminal counts and sentenced Jacobs accordingly. He appealed. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in part, reversed it in part, and vacated it in part; The appeals court reversed the sentence in part and vacated it in part and remanded the case for resentencing.

Cielo Vista Ranch v. Billy Alire

The Court of Appeals ruled against the current owner of Cielo Ranch in the challenge of an administrative process used from 2004 to 2010 to allocate land access rights to the plaintiffs, Costilla County residents. 

The case also included a cross-appeal by the residents challenging a different process used from 2010 to 2016. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on cross-appeal. This case, and the Court of Appeals ruling, is detailed on page 8.

Estate of Irene Mae Cloos

Jean Cloos appealed the final settlement of the estate of her mother, Irene Mae Cloos. She contended that the district court erred by allocating $50,000 in “elective-share” funds from the probate estate to the decedent’s husband of 63 years and Jean Ann’s father, Drexel Cloos, and by permitting conflicts of interest. The Court of Appeals reversed the order as to the award of $50,000 as an elective share and remanded for further proceedings.

Nanez v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office

In this workers’ compensation case, claimant Brian Nanez sought review of a final order of the Industrial Claim Appeals Office, which affirmed an order by the administrative law judge determining that Mechanical & Piping, Inc., and Pinnacol Assurance weren’t liable to pay for medically prescribed conservator and guardian services under section 8-42-101(1)(a) C.R.S. 2018 and Nanez’s average weekly wage shouldn’t be increased. The Court of Appeals affirmed the panel’s final order.

The court addressed an issue of first impression as to the language in C.R.S. section 8-42-101(1)(a) that requires “[e]very employer … [to] furnish such medical … treatment … as may reasonably be needed at the time of the injury … and thereafter during the disability to cure and relieve the employee from the effects of the injury.” 

The Court of Appeals addressed whether the language covered the costs of providing conservator or guardian services to a permanently and totally disabled claimant suffering from a traumatic brain injury. Under the circumstances in the case, the court concluded that the statutory language doesn’t cover the costs of conservator or guardian services for Nanez because the conservator services don’t help care for or remedy his injury and Nanez didn’t establish that the guardian services are reasonably needed to cure and relieve him from the effects of his injury.

People in the Interest of M.V.; Ma.M.; P.M.; and Mo.M., Children

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, M.M., the mother, appealed the juvenile court’s judgment of adjudication and disposition following a jury trial. To resolve her arguments on appeal, the Court of Appeals considered the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. ICWA establishes standards that must be followed when a state court places an Indian child in a foster care placement.

The court decided an unanswered question in Colorado: whether a juvenile court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to enter adjudicatory and dispositional orders when it has not complied with ICWA. The court also determined whether ICWA’s provisions regarding foster care placement apply to adjudicatory and dispositional orders. 

The court concluded that a lack of ICWA compliance does not deprive a juvenile court of subject matter jurisdiction and ICWA’s foster care placement provisions apply to a dispositional order but not to an order adjudicating a child dependent and neglected.

The court also examined M.M.’s argument that the juvenile court erred in admitting video recordings of her and the children at the adjudicatory trial. The Court of Appeals agreed that the court erred in admitting the recordings without proper authentication and further concluded that the error was not harmless. As a result, the court reversed the adjudication and dispositional orders and remanded the case to the juvenile court.

Parental Responsibilities Concerning W.F-L., a Child

Shaun Edward Lee appealed the district court’s order denying his motion to enforce a Georgia court’s order allocating parenting time for his child with  Suzanne Jean Flagge. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.

People In Interest of C.N., a Child

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, A.N. appealed the juvenile court’s order placing C.N., her grandchild, permanently with her foster parents. The Court of Appeals affirmed that order.

People v. Burke

The People appealed the trial court’s order granting Shannon Deane Burke’s motion for a new trial. The People contended that the trial court granted Burke’s motion based on evidence that was inadmissible under CRE 606(b). The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the trial court’s order.

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