November 23, 2017

Archives for September 8, 2014

Steven Schultz and David Westfall Appointed to Seventh Judicial District Court

On Friday, September 5, 2014, the governor’s office announced Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia’s appointment of two judges to the district court bench in the Seventh Judicial District, encompassing Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, San Miguel, and Ouray counties. Steven Schultz and David Westfall were appointed to fill vacancies occasioned by the retirements of Hon. James W. Schum and Hon. Charles R. Greenacre. The appointments are effective January 13, 2015.

Steven Schultz is currently a member of McCarthy & Schultz in Hotchkiss, Colorado. He practices family law, criminal law, civil litigation, business law, water law, and probate. Prior to joining McCarthy & Schultz, he practiced law for eleven years with the Wall Street firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, where he litigated a wide range of civil litigation matters for corporate clients. He received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in 1988 and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1993.

David Westfall is currently the Ouray County Court judge, where he handles traffic matters, misdemeanors, criminal cases, civil cases under $15,000, small claims, and temporary restraining orders. He also serves as the municipal court judge for Ouray, Ridgway, and Telluride. Prior to his appointment to the Ouray County Court bench in 2000, he was an owner and attorney for Attorneys Title Agency, Inc.; owner and attorney for KURA radio; an attorney at the Westfall Law Office; and owner of Westfall Construction. He received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University and his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma City School of Law.

For more information about the appointments, click here.

CJD 05-01 Regarding Public Access to Records Amended by Colorado Supreme Court

On Friday, September 5, 2014, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced amendments to CJD 05-01, “Directive Concerning Access to Court Records,” effective September 4, 2014. The Chief Justice Directive seeks to provide guidance for access to court records while protecting the privacy of litigants. The directive also contains guidance for Judicial Branch personnel and promotes standards for content on Judicial Branch websites, and provides for a Public Access Committee to periodically review and update the rules for public access. Rules for public access to court records are also included in CJD 05-01.

For the full text of CJD 05-01, click here. For all of the Chief Justice Directives, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Judge’s Consideration of Deportability as Sentencing Factor Harmless Error

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Sanchez-Leon on Monday, August 25, 2014.

After a raid of his home by Drug Enforcement Agency officers that uncovered methamphetamine, guns, and approximately $20,000 in U.S. currency, Abel Sanchez-Leon was charged with various drug offenses. During the lunch break on the first day of trial, he accepted a plea agreement offered by the government in which he agreed to plead guilty to eight counts in exchange for a sentence of 17.5 years (210 months), greatly reduced from the Guidelines range of 295 to 353 months. At charge of plea hearing through an interpreter, Sanchez-Leon expressed his understanding of the contents of the plea agreement and that the judge may vary in sentence imposed from the sentence recommended by the prosecutor. The court concluded that Sanchez-Leon’s plea was “voluntarily and intelligently made” and that he understood the penalty to be imposed. After the charge of plea hearing, Sanchez-Leon complained that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because he was pressured into accepting the plea agreement and did not fully understand its contents. He also wrote a letter to the judge, in Spanish, to that effect, but the judge could not read the letter and did not have it translated.

Sanchez-Leon argued on appeal that the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea was in error because the plea was not made knowingly or voluntarily. He also appealed his sentence as substantively and procedurally unreasonable, and contended that the district court committed error by relying on abrogated law. The Tenth Circuit addressed each claim in turn.

The Tenth Circuit rejected Sanchez-Leon’s argument that his plea was not made knowingly or voluntarily. Sanchez-Leon had been questioned in court through an interpreter regarding his awareness of the contents of the plea agreement and the potential consequences of the agreement, and he affirmed on the record that he understood the contents and consequences. The Tenth Circuit found no reason to discredit this testimony. As to the sentence, the Tenth Circuit agreed that the case law on which the sentencing judge had relied was no longer valid law at the time of sentencing, but found any error to be harmless because the judge had considered several factors in determining the sentence and the sentence was within the applicable Guidelines range.

The judgment and sentence of the district court were affirmed.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/5/2014

On Friday, September 5, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and three unpublished opinions.

Smith v. United Parcel Service

Johnson v. Patton

Mayberry v. Patton

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.