May 25, 2017

Archives for April 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: Pattern of Abuse Convictions were Sentence Enhancers to Substantive Acts

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Wiseman on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Sexual Assault on a ChildIllegal SentencingConsecutive Sentences—Concurrent Sentences—Sentence EnhancersColorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act of 1998—Double Jeopardy—Due Process—Laches—Speedy Sentencing—Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

A jury found Wiseman guilty of acts constituting sexual assault on a child under the age of 15 by one in a position of trust. Wiseman received four sentences, three of which were to run consecutively, and one to run concurrent to two others. While Wiseman was incarcerated in the Department of Corrections (DOC), the district court, at the DOC’s request, reviewed his sentence and determined that consecutive terms were mandated by law on all four of his sentences. The effect of the court’s order was to increase Wiseman’s sentence to 46 years imprisonment.

On appeal, Wiseman contended that he was subject to, at most, two convictions and sentences in this case, and that the district court erred in determining that consecutive sentences were statutorily required. Counts seven and eight did not encompass “additional” substantive crimes for which one or more separate sentences could be imposed; they acted as mere sentence enhancers for counts one and three. Consequently, in entering separate convictions and sentences for counts seven and eight, the district court erred. As to the types of sentences, concurrent sentencing is required when offenses are supported by identical evidence. Here, Wiseman’s convictions were not supported by identical evidence and arose out of different incidents. Under the circumstances, Wiseman was subject to concurrent or consecutive sentencing, in the court’s discretion. The district court, therefore, erred in concluding that it was statutorily required to impose consecutive sentences.

Wiseman requested that the case be remanded for reinstatement of the original judgment of conviction and sentences. But Wiseman’s crimes were punishable by indeterminate sentencing under the Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act of 1998 (SOLSA). Thus, Wiseman’s original and revised sentences were both illegal, and a remand for the imposition of a “legal” indeterminate sentence under SOLSA is required: Wiseman must be sentenced for each conviction to an indeterminate sentence having a minimum term of a certain number of years and a maximum term of life imprisonment.

Wiseman objected to the imposition of another sentence that could expose him to the potential of serving life in prison. He asserted that imposing an indeterminate sentence at this point in time, over 15 years after he was initially sentenced, violated double jeopardy, due process, laches, speedy sentencing, and cruel and unusual punishment principles. Because Wiseman was put on notice by the statute that his offense would be subject to an indeterminate sentence, he lacked a legitimate expectation of finality in his original sentence. Thus, correcting the illegal sentence does not violate double jeopardy. There is no due process violation because Wiseman has no fundamental right to avoid serving a lawful sentence of which he should have been aware, and the State of Colorado has legitimate interests in the correct application of its laws and avoiding the precedential risk of irregular enforcement of its laws. The doctrine of laches is not applicable in the context of a Crim. P. 35(a) motion to correct an illegal sentence. The court of appeals found no basis on which Wiseman may assert that resentencing him would violate a constitutional right to speedy sentencing under Crim. P. 32(b). Lastly, the court disagreed that the imposition of a legal, indeterminate sentence would constitute cruel and unusual punishment because (1) Wiseman’s premise that he had an expectation that he would be immediately released on parole under his original sentence is wrong, and (2) such a claim cannot be predicated on the negligence of executive agencies or the courts in failing to impose or correct a sentence at a much earlier date.

The sentence was vacated and the case was remanded with instructions.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Failure to Properly Advise Defendant of Immigration Consequences was Deficient Performance

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Sifuentes on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Felony—Plea Agreement—Immigration—Deportation—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Prejudice.

The prosecution charged defendant with distributing and conspiring to distribute a controlled substance, class three felonies. Defendant later pleaded guilty to an added count of distribution of a schedule III controlled substance as a class four felony, in exchange for dismissal of the original charges. The trial court sentenced defendant to Community Corrections (Comcor) for five years. Comcor, however, rejected defendant when Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed him on an immigration detainer following his conviction. The trial court therefore resentenced defendant to 42 months in prison followed by three years of mandatory parole. Unbeknownst to defendant and defense counsel, the conviction triggered automatic mandatory deportation under federal law.

Defendant filed a Crim. P. 35(c) petition for postconviction relief seeking to withdraw his guilty plea on the ground of ineffective assistance of his plea counsel based on the erroneous advice regarding deportation. The postconviction court denied the petition. Although the court agreed that plea counsel failed to properly advise defendant, it determined that defendant did not suffer prejudice because due to the purported evidence against him, even if defendant had known the consequences of his plea, it would not have been rational for him to reject the plea offer. The court further concluded that even if he had established prejudice, defendant was not entitled to relief due to the circumstances of his providency hearing.

On appeal, defendant contended that the district court erred in determining that his plea counsel’s deficient performance did not prejudice him. When an alien defendant enters a guilty plea based on erroneous representations as to deportation consequences, he will in most cases be permitted to withdraw the plea. Here, defendant presented some objective corroborating evidence of his prejudice claim (e.g., his plea counsel’s testimony confirming defendant’s concerns about deportation and her erroneous advice about deportation). Although the prosecution’s case against defendant appeared to be strong, it cannot be concluded that a conviction would have resulted if defendant went to trial. The court of appeals concluded that rejecting the guilty plea offer and going to trial would have been a rational decision for defendant. Because defendant established a reasonable probability that his plea counsel’s deficient performance affected the outcome of the plea process, he was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded with directions.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/25/2017

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and six unpublished opinions.

United States v. Grigsby

United States v. De Rangel

Blaurock v. State of Kansas

Farris v. Burton

Lessard v. Cravitz

Pledger v. State of Kansas

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

Be an IP Superhero at the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Law Institute

Be an IP Superhero like Nate and Molly!

Evil trolls are coming to destroy our patents —

Ransomware and robots are taking over our computers —

Unfair competition is just, well, UNFAIR! —

Virtual reality has gone rogue —

 

But who can we call?

The IP Superheroes!

You can be an IP Superhero, too. Find out how by registering today for the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property and Technology Law Institute. This year’s Institute features three plenary sessions:

  1. Mile High Sports Law with major team general counsels,
  2. Trends in IP law and litigation, presented by a panel of national federal court judges, and
  3. Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Ethics and Disclosure Exposure.

Plus much more! The chief judges of the PTAB and TTAB will discuss new developments, and attorneys will present the Year in Review for the PTAB and TTAB. There will be sessions on Six Things You Can Do to Protect your Company and Clients • Cannabis and Marijuana Update • Hot Topics in Bio-Pharma Prosecution • Big Data, Data Breaches, Open Source, and More • Trademarking Pop Culture • Ransomware, Robots, and Raging Machines • Getting Indemnity Agreements Right • and Many More!

The 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property and Technology Law Update will take place on June 1-2 at the Westin Westminster, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, CO 80020. Click here to register today!

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/24/2017

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

United States v. Nicholas

Jackson v. The Education & Employment Ministry

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

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 4/24/2017

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued nine published opinions.

People v. Jacobson

People v. Larsen

City & County of Denver School District No. 1 v. Denver Classroom Teachers Association

People v. Reyes-Valenzuela

City & County of Denver v. Expedia, Inc.

Rocky Mountain Retail Management, LLC v. City of Northglenn

People v. Beauvais

People v. Jefferson

Martinez v. People

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/21/2017

On Friday, April 21, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and eight unpublished opinions.

United States v. Soza

Forbes v. Kinder Morgan, Inc.

Graves v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.

United States v. Acosta

Crews v. Paine

United States v. Arevalo-Magana

United States v. Timley

Arbogast v. State of Kansas, Department of Labor

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

Nominees Selected for Sedgwick County Court Vacancy

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the selection of two nominees to fill a vacancy on the Sedgwick County Court. The vacancy will be created by the resignation of Hon. Tera N. Neugebauer, effective May 1, 2017.

The two nominees are James Dolezal of Julesburg and Belinda Obermier of Julesburg. James Dolezal is an Investment Advisor Representative at JCD Wealth Management. Belinda Obermier is at Cabela’s in Sydney, Nebraska.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days in which to appoint one of the nominees to the vacancy. Comments regarding either of the nominees may be emailed to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us. For more information about the candidates, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Warrantless Blood Draw on Unconscious Driver Does Not Violate Fourth Amendment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Hyde on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Searches and Seizures—Warrantless Blood Draw— Consent to Search.

In this interlocutory appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court considered whether a warrantless blood draw conducted on an unconscious driver pursuant to Colorado’s Expressed Consent Statute, C.R.S. § 42-4-1301.1, violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches. The court explained that by driving in Colorado, the driver consented to the terms of the statute, including its requirement that “[a]ny person who is dead or unconscious shall be tested to determine the alcohol or drug content of the person’s blood.” The court concluded that the driver’s prior statutory consent satisfied the consent exception to the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment; therefore, the blood draw conducted in this case was constitutional. Consequently, the court reversed the trial court’s order suppressing the blood-draw evidence.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: All Motorists in Colorado Consent to Colorado’s Expressed Consent Statute by Driving

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Simpson on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Searches and Seizures—Warrantless Blood Draw—Consent to Search.

Colorado’s Expressed Consent Statute, C.R.S. § 42-4-1301.1, provides that any motorist who drives on the roads of the state has consented to take a blood or breath test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer with probable cause to suspect the motorist of driving under the influence. In this interlocutory appeal, the court reviewed the trial court’s ruling that an advisement accurately informing defendant of the statute amounted to coercion that rendered his consent to a blood test involuntary and required suppression of the test result. The court explained that by driving in Colorado, defendant consented to the terms of the statute, including its requirement that he submit to a blood draw under the circumstances present in this case. The court concluded that defendant’s prior statutory consent satisfied the consent exception to the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment; therefore, the blood test conducted in this case was constitutional. Consequently, the court reversed the trial court’s suppression of the test result.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Use of Refusal to Consent to Blood Test as Evidence Does Not Violate Fourth Amendment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Fitzgerald v. People on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Searches and Seizures—Refusal to Submit to 12 Blood-Alcohol Testing—Admission of Refusal Evidence.

The Colorado Supreme Court considered whether the prosecution’s use of a defendant’s refusal to consent to blood-alcohol testing as evidence of guilt at trial for a drunk-driving offense, in accordance with the terms of Colorado’s Expressed Consent Statute, C.R.S. § 42-4-1301.1, violates the Fourth Amendment. Because the use of such refusal evidence does not impermissibly burden a defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable searches, the court concluded that the use of such refusal evidence does not violate the Fourth Amendment. The court therefore affirmed the judgment of the district court.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/20/2017

On Thursday, April 20, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

Furber v. Taylor

United States v. McAbee

Myers v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States v. Boyd

Todd v. Raemisch

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