June 24, 2017

Archives for May 19, 2016

Bills Updating Election Laws, Clarifying Tax Exemptions for Housing Authorities, and More Signed

On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed nine bills into law. To date, he has signed 186 bills into law this legislative session. The bills signed Wednesday include a bill to clarify the scope of tax exemption for housing authorities, a bill providing an exception to the prohibition against disclosing confidential mental health information when school safety is at risk, and more. The bills signed Wednesday are summarized here.

  • HB 16-1006 – Concerning Clarification of the Scope of the Exemption from Government Charges for Property Owned by or Leased to a Housing Authority or Owned by, Leased to, or Under Construction by an Entity that is Wholly Owned by an Authority, an Entity in Which an Authority has an Ownership Interest, or an Entity in Which an Entity Wholly Owned by an Authority or of Which an Authority is the Sole Member has an Ownership Interest, by Reps. KC Becker & Alec Garnett and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill clarifies that sales, use, and property tax exemptions apply to low-income housing property owned by or leased to any subsidiary of a housing authority.
  • HB 16-1063 – Concerning an Exception to the Prohibition Against Disclosing Confidential Communications with a Mental Health Professional when School Safety is at Risk, by Reps. Mike Foote & Crisanta Duran and Sens. Mark Scheffel & Bill Cadman. The bill allows a specified mental health professional tomake a disclosure if his or her client makes an articulable and significant threat to a school or its occupants or exhibits behavior that the professional deems to jeopardize the safety of students, teachers, administrators, or other school personnel.
  • HB 16-1101 – Concerning Medical Decisions for Unrepresented Patients, by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill allows an attending physician to designate another willing physician to act as a patient’s proxy decision-maker for health care treatment under certain conditions. The attending physician cannot act as the proxy decision-maker.
  • HB 16-1228 – Concerning an Alternative Transfer Mechanism for Water Rights that Protects the Agricultural Use for which a Water Right was Originally Decreed while Permitting Renewable One-Year Transfers of a Portion of the Water Subject to the Water Right, by Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Jon Becker and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill allows the owner of an absolute decreed irrigation water right used for agricultural purposes to apply in water court to change the use of the water right to an agricultural water protection water right which is created by this bill.
  • HB 16-1394 – Concerning Clarifying Definitions Related to At-Risk Persons, by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Grantham. The bill implements the recommendations of the at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) mandatory reporting implementation task force, including changing definitions related to at-risk persons, expanding penalties for mistreatment of at-risk persons, and more.
  • SB 16-142 – Concerning Modernization of Election Law Provisions, and, in Connection Therewith, Correcting Statutory Citations, Updating Terms and Procedures to Reflect Modern Elections Administration, Conforming State Law to Federal Law, Eliminating Redundancies and Obsolete References and Practices, Harmonizing Durational Residency Requirements for Certain Local Government Elections, and Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Ray Scott and Rep. Su Ryden. The bill makes various changes and updates to election statutes.
  • SB 16-177 – Concerning Technical Modifications to Legislation Enacted in 2015 to Promote an Equitable Financial Contribution Among Affected Public Bodies in Connection with Urban Redevelopment Projects Allocating Tax Revenues, by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Rollie Heath and Reps. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst & Polly Lawrence. The bill makes technical adjustments and clarifies recent legislation concerning urban renewal, urban renewal plans, and provisions for sharing tax increment financing among affected taxing entities.
  • SB 16-201 – Concerning Revising the Child Welfare Funding Mechanism, by Sen. Kevin Grantham and Rep. Dave Young. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to work with county departments of human services, residential treatment providers, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and the Joint Budget Committee to review the rate-setting process for residential treatment programs serving youth in the child welfare system.
  • SB 16-211 – Concerning Contests to Specified Special District Elections that are Made on Grounds Relating to Elector Qualifications, and, in Connection Therewith, Imposing a Jurisdictional Bar on Contests of Certain Elections and Validating the Qualifications of Certain Actors when Timely Contests Challenging Those Qualifications Have Not Been Filed, by Sens. Bill Cadman & Mark Scheffel and Reps. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst & Crisanta Duran. For special district elections conducted prior to April 21, 2016, and on May 3, 2016, this bill prohibits contesting the results of the election on the grounds that any person voting at the election was not eligible to vote, except in limited circumstances, and the qualification of any person elected or appointed to a special district is validated and may not be contested.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2016 legislative decisions, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Article III “In Custody” Requirement Treats Consecutive Sentences as One Continuous Stream

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hagos v. Raemisch on Tuesday, December 29, 2015.

Abraham Hagos is incarcerated in Colorado state prison for multiple convictions stemming from two prosecutions. In the first case, he was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and two counts of retaliation against a witness (the murder case). In the second, he was convicted of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, felony menacing, and conspiracy (the kidnapping case). He is serving two consecutive life sentences, one from each case. Hagos appealed his convictions in the kidnapping case, which were affirmed on direct appeal by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The Colorado and United States supreme courts denied certiorari. Hagos then sought state post-conviction relief, which was denied by the district court, court of appeals, and supreme court. He then filed a federal § 2254 petition, which the district court dismissed, concluding it did not satisfy the Article III case or controversy requirement. The district court issued a COA on this issue.

Hagos also appealed his convictions in the murder case. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed on direct appeal, and the Colorado and United States supreme courts again denied certiorari. Hagos filed a § 2254 petition in the murder case, which the district court denied. The Tenth Circuit dismissed the matter after denying Hagos’ request for a COA. Hagos then filed a post-conviction motion in state court, which is still pending.

Hagos’ § 2254 petition was pending in the Tenth Circuit when he filed his § 2254 petition in the kidnapping case. The district court sua sponte ordered Hagos to show cause why the kidnapping case proceedings should not be stayed pending the outcome of the murder case proceedings. The court evaluated the “in custody” requirement for habeas relief and decided that even if it invalidated the kidnapping convictions, Hagos would remain incarcerated for life due to the murder convictions. The district court concluded that if granting habeas relief in Hagos’ kidnapping case would not reduce his confinement, the Article III case or controversy requirement was not satisfied. The district court disagreed with Hagos’ arguments against the stay and enforced it during the pendency of the proceedings in the murder case. After the Tenth Circuit dismissed Hagos’ petition and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari, the district court dismissed Hagos’ § 2254 petition in the kidnapping case for the same reasons it outlined in its stay order.

The Tenth Circuit conducted a de novo review of the district court’s dismissal of Hagos’ § 2254 petition. The Tenth Circuit first noted that Hagos is “in custody” for Article III purposes because his two life sentences run consecutively, following Supreme Court precedent that explains that consecutive sentences are to be treated as a continuous stream. The Tenth Circuit found the district court’s reliance on a different case misplaced, since that ruling only affected expired concurrent sentences. The Tenth Circuit further explained that Hagos’ petition satisfied the case or controversy requirement because even though providing habeas relief in the kidnapping case would not affect the duration of his sentence, it could affect his prisoner level and availability of certain prison programs.

The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded for consideration of Hagos’ § 2254 petition.

Tenth Circuit: “Arguable” Reasonable Suspicion Enough to Support Qualified Immunity

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Shimomura v. Carlson on Tuesday, December 29, 2015.

Tsutomu Shimomura was at a security checkpoint at DIA when a TSA agent tested his medicine with a test strip. Mr. Shimomura expressed concern about the sterility of the test strips and asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor, TSA Agent Kendra Carlson, engaged in a heated exchange with Mr. Shimomura while Denver Police Officer Wade Davis watched. Agent Carlson eventually ordered Mr. Shimomura to “get the hell out of here,” and he turned to leave. As he was leaving, his roller bag may have struck Agent Carlson. Officer Davis immediately arrested Mr. Shimomura. He was detained for approximately 9o minutes, then was issued a summons and complaint, charging him with assault for pushing his roller bag into Agent Carlson. The prosecutor dismissed the criminal complaint after reviewing the charges.

Mr. Shimomura brought suit against Agent Carlson and Officer Davis, alleging 42 U.S.C. § 1983 violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment based on qualified immunity to Officer Davis on the Fourth Amendment claims and dismissed the claims against Agent Carlson based on failure to state a claim. The court also dismissed the causes of action based on violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments for failure to state a claim. Mr. Shimomura appealed.

The Tenth Circuit first determined that Officer Davis was entitled to qualified immunity because he had at least a modicum of reasonable suspicion that Mr. Shimomura had committed a crime. The majority panel determined that probable cause was at least “arguable” as to Officer Davis. The Tenth Circuit evaluated the crime of which Mr. Shimomura was charged, third-degree assault, which requires reckless or intentional commission of assault, which is separately defined as bodily injury, including pain. The majority panel determined that Officer Davis had at least arguable suspicion that Agent Carlson experienced pain, however minor or fleeting, from her contact with the roller bag, and therefore he was entitled to qualified immunity. Chief Judge Tymkovich dissented; he opined that the majority panel disregarded its role by impermissibly finding facts instead of questioning whether a reasonable jury could have taken Mr. Shimomura’s version of the events as true. Judge Tymkovich did not believe Officer Davis was entitled to qualified immunity.

The Tenth Circuit next evaluated the district court’s dismissal of Mr. Shimomura’s claims against Agent Carlson. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal, finding that even if Agent Carlson fabricated her version of the events, she did so after Mr. Shimomura’s arrest. Because Mr. Shimomura was arrested as a matter of law in the moments after his roller bag may have struck Agent Carlson, any withholding and fabrication of evidence took place after that moment. The Tenth Circuit found Mr. Shimomura’s Fourth Amendment claims against Agent Carlson failed.

The Tenth Circuit then turned to Mr. Shimomura’s conspiracy claims and disregarded them for the same reason. The Tenth Circuit determined that, because any conspiracy would have occurred after Mr. Shimomura’s arrest, his claims could not stand. The Tenth Circuit similarly disposed of Mr. Shimomura’s due process claims, finding that any due process issues related to unlawful arrest must be decided under the Fourth Amendment.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. Chief Judge Tymkovich dissented as to the claims against Officer Davis.