December 12, 2017

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 12/11/2017

On Monday, December 11, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued three published opinions.

People in Interest of J.W.

People v. Garcia

UMB Bank, N.A. v. Landmark Towers Association, Inc.

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Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions.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.

CORRECTED: Nominees Selected for Colorado Supreme Court Vacancy

On Wednesday, November 29, 2017, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission announced its selection of three nominees for appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court. The three nominees are Marcy Glenn, Melissa Hart, and Hon. Pattie Swift.

Marcy Glenn is a partner at Holland & Hart LLP, where she specializes in appellate litigation and legal ethics. She formerly chaired the Committee on Conduct of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, and is a current member and former chair of the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee. Ms. Glenn frequently lectures and writes on appellate and ethics issues.

Melissa Hart has been a professor at the University of Colorado Law School since 2001, teaching courses in employment discrimination, legal ethics, constitutional law, judicial procedure and judicial decision making. She is now the Director of the Byron White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. She serves on the Colorado Access to Justice Commission and the Colorado Supreme Court’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee and Board of Continuing Judicial and Legal Education.

Hon. Pattie Swift is the Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial District, and she is also the Water Judge of Water Division 3. In August 2006, Judge Swift helped create a Dependency and Neglect Family Drug Treatment Court in Alamosa County, over which she presided from 2006 through 2012. Judge Swift served as County Court Judge for Costilla County from January 1989 until she assumed her current position as a District Court Judge in February 2003. She received her law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of New Mexico.

Comments about any of the nominees may be emailed to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us. The governor has 15 days from November 30, 2017, in which to select one of the nominees for appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court. For more information about the nominees, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Taxpayer Entitled to File Statutory Claim for Relief After Expiration of Protest Period

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in OXY USA, Inc. v. Mesa County Board of Commissioners on Monday, November 13, 2017.

Tax Law—Taxpayer Error—Overvaluation

The supreme court holds that section 39-10-114(1)(a)(I)(A), C.R.S. (2017), allows abatement and refund for illegally or erroneously levied taxes based on overvaluation caused by taxpayer error. This result follows from the statute’s plain text that allows abatement for “overvaluation” without making a distinction between government- and taxpayer-caused overvaluations. The court rejects the court of appeals’ holding that Coquina Oil Corp. v. Larimer County Board of Equalization, 770 P.2d 1196 (Colo. 1989), and Boulder County Board of Commissioners v. HealthSouth Corp., 246 P.3d 948 (Colo. 2011), require a different result. Coquina was superseded by the 1991 legislative amendment that added “overvaluation” as a ground for abatement, and HealthSouth’s holding was limited to intentional taxpayer overvaluations. The supreme court reverses the judgment of the court of appeals and remands for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Risk-Benefit Test is Proper Test in Products Liability Action

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Walker v. Ford Motor Co. on Monday, November 13, 2017.

In this case, the supreme court considered whether a trial court erred when it gave a jury instruction that allowed the jury to apply either the consumer expectation test or the risk-benefit test to determine whether a driver’s car seat was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect. The court concluded that the risk-benefit test is the appropriate test to assess whether a product was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect when, as here, the dangerousness of the design is “defined primarily by technical, scientific information.” Ortho Pharm. Corp. v. Heath, 722 P.2d 410, 414 (Colo. 1986), overruled on other grounds by Armentrout v. FMC Corp., 842 P.2d 175, 183 (Colo. 1992). The court further concluded that the jury’s separate finding of negligence did not render the instructional error harmless in this case.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 11/13/2017

On Monday, November 13, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued three published opinions.

Walker v. Ford Motor Co.

Align Corp. Ltd. v. Boustred

OXY USA, Inc. v. Mesa County Board of Commissioners

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.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid Appointed to Tenth Circuit

On Friday, November 3, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Eid will fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eid submitted her resignation from the Colorado Supreme Court upon her confirmation, effective immediately.

Applications are now being accepted for the vacancy on the Colorado Supreme Court. Eligible applicants must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years and must be a qualified elector of the State of Colorado. Application forms are available on the State Judicial website or from the ex officio chair of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, Chief Justice Nancy Rice. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on November 20, 2017, to be considered. Anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than 4 p.m. on November 13, 2017. Applicants should be advised that telephone calls informing candidates of interviews will likely occur on Friday, November 24, 2017, and they must be available by telephone on that date.

For more information about the vacancy and application procedure, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Failure to Pay Funds to Third Party Constituted Knowing Conversion by Attorney

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of Kleinsmith on Monday, October 30, 2017.

Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct—Attorney Discipline—Conversion—Due Process—Equal Protection.

This attorney disciplinary proceeding required the supreme court to determine whether an attorney commits knowing conversion, in violation of Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules) 1.15A and 8.4(c), when he bills a client for services performed by a third party and then uses for his own purposes the client funds he received that were intended to pay for the third party’s services. This proceeding further required the court to determine whether the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s reading of the Rules violated the attorney’s rights to due process and equal protection. The court concluded that in the circumstances presented here, the attorney’s actions constituted knowing conversion in violation of the Rules and that the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s construction of the Rules to reach the same result did not violate any of the attorney’s constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the orders of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and the hearing board, including the order disbarring the attorney from the practice of law.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Defendant Not In Custody at Time of Interview so Suppression Order Reversed

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Sampson on Monday, October 30, 2017.

Miranda Warnings.

In this interlocutory appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded that a conversation between defendant and a law enforcement officer that took place in a hospital did not constitute custody for Miranda purposes. Under the totality of the circumstances, the court concluded that a reasonable person in defendant’s position would not have believed that his freedom of action had been curtailed to a degree associated with a formal arrest. Assuming without deciding that giving Miranda warnings can be considered in determining whether a suspect is in custody, the court concluded that defendant was not in custody during any part of his conversation with the law enforcement officer. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court’s suppression order.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 10/30/2017

On Monday, October 30, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued two published opinions.

People v. Sampson

In the Matter of Philip Kleinsmith

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.

Colorado Supreme Court: Defendant May Fire Retained Counsel for Any Reason but Must Face Consequences

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Ronquillo v. People on Monday, October 16, 2017.

Criminal Law—Counsel—Choice of Counsel—Continuance.

The Colorado Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice includes the right to fire retained counsel without having to show good cause, even when the defendant wants appointed counsel. But defendants who fire retained counsel will not necessarily be allowed to proceed as they wish. Accordingly, trial courts must ensure that defendants understand the consequences of firing retained counsel. The court outlined the analysis that trial courts should conduct before releasing retained counsel from a case. Because the Colorado Court of Appeals erred by requiring Ronquillo to show good cause for firing retained counsel, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 10/16/2017

On Monday, October 16, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued one published opinion.

Ronquillo v. People

The summary of this case is forthcoming.

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

Colorado Supreme Court: Hospital Has No Private Right of Action Against Police Department for Cost of Treatment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in City of Arvada ex rel. Arvada Police Department v. Denver Health & Hospital Authority on Monday, October 9, 2017.

Prisons—Costs of Incarceration.

Arvada police arrested a severely injured man and sent him to Denver Health Medical Center. Denver Health and Hospital Authority (Denver Health) sued Arvada for the cost of care, claiming that C.R.S. § 16-3-401, which says that persons in custody “shall be . . . provided . . . medical treatment,” required Arvada to pay the hospital for the detainee’s care. Here, the Colorado Supreme Court clarified that (1) whether a statute provides a private right of action is a question of standing, and (2) the same test for a private right of action under Allstate Insurance Co. v. Parfrey, 830 P.2d 905 (Colo. 1992), applies for claims against both governmental and non-governmental defendants. Applying Parfrey to Denver Health’s statutory claim, the court held that C.R.S. § 16-3-401 does not provide hospitals a private right of action to sue police departments for the cost of providing healthcare to persons in custody. Accordingly, it concluded that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to Denver Health on the statutory claim. The court remanded the case for consideration of Denver Health’s unjust enrichment claim based on Arvada’s statutory duty to provide care for persons in custody.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.