September 25, 2017

Archives for April 13, 2016

Nominees Selected for First Judicial District Court Vacancy

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the selection of three nominees to fill a vacancy on the First Judicial District Court. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Hon. Christopher Munch, effective June 1, 2016. The nominees selected by the First Judicial District Nominating Commission are Diego G. Hunt of Golden, Miller M. Leonard of Arvada, and Harold D. Sargent of Lakewood.

Diego G. Hunt is Of Counsel at Holland & Hart, where he represents parties in complex domestic and international products liability and torts litigation. Miller Leonard operates his own criminal defense firm in Golden, where he represents clients in federal, state, and municipal court. Harold D. Sargent is an attorney with the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days from April 12, 2016, in which to appoint one of the nominees to the First Judicial District Court. Comments regarding any of the nominees may be emailed to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us. For more information about the nominees, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Political Organization Required to Report Donations of Legal Services

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Campaign Integrity Watchdog v. Coloradans for a Better Future on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

Campaign—Contributions—Expenditures—Reporting.

This is the fourth in a series of complaints brought by claimant, Campaign Integrity Watchdog (CIW), or its principal officer, Matthew Arnold, against Coloradans for a Better Future (CBF), a political organization under CRS § 1-45-103(14.5), to challenge CBF’s alleged failure to report contributions and spending. Specifically, CIW challenged CBF’s spending on legal fees in 2012 and 2013, as well as donated legal services in 2013 and 2014. The administrative law judge (ALJ) found in favor of CBF.

On appeal, CIW argued that the ALJ erred in concluding that CBF did not need to report certain legal services as spending. The Colorado Court of Appeals disagreed. The money that CBF spent on legal services in 2012 or 2013 either for defending previous campaign finance complaints or for its attorney fees fell outside the category of expenditures defined by the Fair Campaign Practices Act. Therefore, it did not constitute reportable spending.

CIW also argued that the ALJ erred in concluding that CBF only needed to report contributions that were for the purpose of promoting a candidate’s nomination or election. The court agreed. CBF received “in-kind” contributions of legal services. It is undisputed that the legal services at issue were either a gift of services for which less than equivalent value was received (if the services were billed but not paid) or they were pro bono services. Therefore, CBF received a contribution that it was required to report.

The order was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Claims in Lawsuit Immunized Under First Amendment from Conspiracy Allegations

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in City of Aurora v. 1405 Hotel, LLC on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

Immunity from Suit Under the First Amendment—Denial of Discovery—Private versus Public Dispute—“Sham” Claims—Attorney Fees and Costs.

Eleven hotels (collectively, Hotels) petitioned the Colorado Economic Development Commission (CEDC), requesting that CEDC require the City of Aurora to submit a new application for an $81 million tax subsidy after the initial company that had been awarded the subsidy assigned its interest to RIDA Development Corporation (RIDA). The Attorney General (AG) denied the petition on behalf of the CEDC. The Hotels filed an action in the Denver District Court (Denver lawsuit). The district court and a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the AG’s denial of the Hotels’ petition. However, alleging conspiracy to interfere with the financing and development of the project, plaintiffs, Aurora, the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority, and RIDA (collectively, Aurora parties), sued the Hotels. The district court found that the Hotels’ complaint in the Denver lawsuit was immunized under the First Amendment, based on Protect Our Mountain Environment, Inc. v. Dist. Ct., 677 P.2d 1361 (Colo. 1984) (POME), and dismissed the Aurora parties’ complaint. The Aurora parties appealed and the Hotels cross-appealed.

The Aurora parties first argued it was an abuse of discretion not to allow discovery and a hearing before granting the Hotels’ motion to dismiss. The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that because the Aurora parties were unable to articulate any need for discovery on the first, objective prong of the POME test—whether the Hotels’ claims had a reasonable basis in law or fact—they were not entitled to discovery before the court ruled on the Hotels’ motion.

The Aurora parties then contended that POME did not apply because this was a purely private dispute. The court disagreed. The Hotels did not sue any private party, and the dispute arose from a petition to a state agency for judicial review of state agency action regarding an award of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to a city to develop a project of “major public importance.”

Finally, the Aurora parties argued that three of the Hotels’ claims in the Denver lawsuit lacked reasonable factual support or a cognizable basis in law and were “sham” claims. The court disagreed. It also agreed with the Hotels that the one claim the district court found to be a “sham” was in fact not a sham because it had reasonable factual support and a cognizable basis in law.

The Hotels contended that the court erred in concluding their third claim was a sham and that the C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) dismissal of RIDA’s claims should be affirmed. The court concluded their third claim was not a sham, and because the court affirmed the dismissal of the Aurora parties’ complaint, it did not reach the second argument.

The judgment was affirmed, and the court awarded the Hotels attorney fees and costs.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

HB 16-1118: Allowing Deductions from Tax Collections for Local Government Repayments

On January 20, 2016, Rep. Lois Court introduced HB 16-1118 – Concerning a Local Taxing Jurisdiction’s Repayment to the State for a Prior Sales and Use Tax Distribution. The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the Local Government Committee, where it passed unamended and is waiting for Second Reading in the House Committee of the Whole.

If for any reason a local taxing jurisdiction is required to repay the state of Colorado for a prior distribution of sales and use tax collections, this bill permits the Executive Director of the Department of Revenue to deduct the amount owed from future distributions of the tax collections. The Executive Director and the local taxing jurisdiction may enter into an intergovernmental agreement, which shall not exceed 3 years, to establish the terms of the repayment. The Executive Director is required to notify the state controller of the agreement.

The bill also establishes that a local taxing jurisdiction’s repayment for a prior distribution of sales and use tax collections is exempted from the state controller’s usual debt collection procedures.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

HB 16-1112: Creating a Pilot Program to Teach Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs

On January 20, 2016, Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Larry Crowder introduced HB 16-1112 – Concerning the Creation of the Training Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs Pilot Program. The bill was introduced in the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee, where it passed, amended, and was referred to the Appropriations Committee.

This bill creates the Training Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs Pilot Program, and the Training Veterans to Train Their own Service Dogs Pilot Program Fund. The bill establishes that the Executive Director of the Department of Human Resources shall establish and post criteria, including eligibility criteria, for the Program, as well as establish guidelines and timelines for a request for proposals process to select a nonprofit entity to facilitate the Program.

The purpose of the Program is to identify and train a group of up to ten eligible veterans to pair with dogs, as identified by qualified canine trainers in conjunction with the veterans, to foster, train, and ultimately utilize the dogs as their own service or companion animals. A veteran is eligible for the program if he or she served in and was honorably discharged from the armed forces, national guard, or reserved forces, is in need of mental heath services, and received a referral to participate in the Program from a qualified mental health professional. The Program will offer those veterans who graduate from the Program the opportunity to expand the Program by identifying, fostering, and training a subsequent dog for another eligible veteran who is unable to complete one or more parts of the process due to physical limitations. The Department must establish and post eligibility criteria for the selection to the Program of veterans and canines to be used by the selected nonprofit.

The Executive Director shall establish and use a competitive request for proposals process to select a nonprofit agency to implement and operate the Program. To be eligible, the nonprofit must: be based in Colorado, generate its own revenue and reinvest the proceeds in the development of its programs, and serve the needs of the veteran population in its geographic region, for example, by offering veterans support programs. The nonprofit shall: report to the Department measurable outcomes and evaluations of those outcomes of the Program, select the veterans and canine companions, assist in conducting the Program, and provide mentoring to a participating veteran.

The Department shall report the outcomes and evaluations of the Program to a number of Committees of the State Senate and House of Representatives.

The Fund is created in the state treasury, funded by the General Assembly, for the purpose of funding the Program. The Department is authorized to seek, accept, and expend gifts and donations, from private or public sources, for the purposes of the Program.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/12/2016

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Braden v. Davis

Parker v. Winter

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