Court Opinions: Presiding Disciplinary Judge Opinion for April 23

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

People v. Charles F. Cliggett

In November 2022, Charles Cliggett was driving on Highway 135 in Gunnison County when his car collided with and killed a bicyclist. Investigating officers determined Cliggett was responsible for the accident because he didn’t provide the required three feet of space between his car and the bicycle when passing, though Cliggett asserts the bicyclist veered into the traffic lane. Cliggett remained at the accident scene with the victim until authorities arrived.

Following a trial in Gunnison in 2023, a jury convicted Cliggett of careless driving resulting in death, a class 1 traffic misdemeanor; passing on the left improperly, a class A traffic infraction; and criminally negligent homicide, a class 5 felony. In Colorado, a person acts with criminal negligence when, through a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise, that person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.

On Jan. 8, 2024, Cliggett was sentenced to three years of probation, with a suspended 30-day jail sentence, 200 hours of community service, restitution and required completion of a course on vehicle-bicyclist safety. The judge noted speed, alcohol and drugs weren’t contributing factors to the accident and Cliggett has contributed to his community throughout his life.

As a condition of his public censure, Cliggett’s law license must remain on inactive status during his felony probation and Cliggett can’t practice law in Colorado during that period.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved Cliggett’s stipulation to discipline and publicly censured him, with conditions. The public censure took effect April 23.

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