July 30, 2014

Fostering Success Legal Clinic — Why MVL is Addressing the Needs of Foster Kids!

By Peggy Hoyt-Hock, MVL Board Member

Foster Children. . . What comes to mind when you read this term? When I think of foster children, I tend to visualize something out of Oliver Twist . . . a group of young kids, hanging together, with little supervision. Then of course, I think of Jane Eyre, Annie or Harry Potter. Upon further reflection, I recall a few friends and acquaintances,who have on occasion mentioned that when young, they were fostered until perhaps being adopted or otherwise growing into successful, professional adults.

Then, consider this statistic: In the US, just over 30 percent of typical kids obtain a bachelor’s degree by age 25. When compared to children from the foster care system this number drops to two percent! Until writing this blog, I was unaware of the gap; honestly never giving the topic much thought. This difference presents just one example of the significant challenges children who age-out of the foster system must face.

The phone call came out of the blue. A professional young attorney, in fact an MVL Rovira Scholar introduced herself. “I am calling to ask you to serve as a volunteer for the first MVL Fostering Success Legal Clinic in July.” I asked her to tell me more about it. In the course of our conversation, I confirmed my commitment and discovered that Leeah Lechuga had direct personal experience with the foster care system.

If time would allow, we would both place individual calls to each good hearted attorney we know asking them to volunteer for this new Fostering Success Legal Clinic. Since neither of us have time, we are publishing this blog.

MVL has been fortunate to have had our recent Rovira Scholar, Leeah Lechuga. She reached out to share some of the challenges faced by an individual who ages-out of the foster care system. Leeah is a young and dynamic Colorado attorney, who recently left MVL for a Clerkship in the 18th Judicial District. If you happen to see her there, please join us in thanking her for arranging to have MVL partner with others to establish the new MVL“Fostering Success Legal Clinic.”

Snippets of the interview follow:

Peg, Q: You have personal experience with having to navigate the system. Can you share what it was like?

Leeah, A: My experience with my only out-of-home placement was wonderful. My foster parents made my experience with the system transformative.

It was the other systems that were difficult, after I aged out — student financial aid, finding an apartment, buying a car — I felt lost and incompetent constantly. I also felt lost in other ways, particularly recognizing the value in healthy relationships and building a healthy community. That is so important, but it took me a long time to get here.

Peg, Q: What can you tell the attorneys who read this blog, and may consider volunteering for this clinic — particularly those who may not have volunteered with MVL before — with regard to specific knowledge, skills, or experience they need?

Leeah, A: Attorneys, your willingness to be there is the biggest thing.

It is followed closely by a willingness to be an open book. Most of the legal issues won’t be complex. But you never know what seemingly trivial answer will unlock a whole new level of understanding and way of thinking for these young people. Something you say may connect with something that was said or overheard in a previous encounter. You can be transformative.

If you have not signed up to help with this clinic yet, please do so now. Let’s see how many lives the “Fostering Success Legal Clinic” can help transform over time! If you are interested, please contact diannev@denbar.org.

This article originally appeared on the MVL blog on July 3, 2014.

Colorado Supreme Court: Juvenile’s Statements Made Voluntarily and Not While in Custody

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. N.A.S. on Monday, June 30, 2014.

Juvenile Custody Under Miranda—Voluntariness and Coercion.

In this interlocutory appeal, the People sought review of the trial court’s order suppressing statements of the juvenile defendant. The trial court found that defendant was in custody when he made the statements; that he did not waive his Miranda rights knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently; and that the statements were involuntary.

The Supreme Court held that, in light of the totality of the circumstances, defendant was not in custody when he made the statements, and he spoke voluntarily. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s suppression order and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Case-by-Case Evaluation of Summary Judgment Appropriateness Needed in Prospective Harm Cases

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People in Interest of S.N. on Monday, June 30, 2014.

Dependency and Neglect Adjudication—Prospective Harm—Summary Judgment.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether summary judgment is ever appropriate in a dependency and neglect adjudication involving prospective harm. The Court held that courts must evaluate whether summary judgment is appropriate in such instances on a case-by-case basis. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case to that court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary and full case available here.

Bills Regarding Great-Grandparent Visitation, Workers’ Comp Treating Physicians, Marijuana Revenue, Segregation of Mentally Ill Inmates, and More Signed

The 2014 Legislative Session has now ended, and Governor Hickenlooper signed many bills into law this session. Over the past week, he signed 79 bills, allowed one to become law without a signature, and vetoed two bills. In total, the governor signed 396 bills, allowed one to become law without a signature, and vetoed four bills.

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, the governor signed two bills. They are summarized here. The governor also vetoed one bill, SB 14-023Concerning an Authorization of the Voluntary Transfer of Water Efficiency Savings to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for Instream Use Purposes in Water Divisions that Include Lands West of the Continental Divide. The governor’s statement regarding SB 14-023 is available here.

  • SB 14-041Concerning the Creation of a USS Colorado License Plate for Motor Vehicles and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Bernie Herpin and Reps. Bob Gardner & Spencer Swalm. The bill creates a special license plate to commemorate the USS Colorado.
  • SB 14-214Concerning the Studies Requested in the Department of Personnel’s Response to the Request for Information in the Fiscal Year 2013-14 Annual General Appropriation Act, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Kent Lambert & Pat Steadman and Reps. Cheri Gerou & Jenise May. The bill requires the state personnel director and the state auditor to conduct a compensation study to compare with similar workforce structures. The bill also requires PERA to provide member information and data to any third-party compensation consulting firm.

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, the governor signed 24 bills into law. Some of these are summarized here.

  • SB 14-125Concerning the Regulation of Transportation Network Companies, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring Transportation Network Companies to Carry Liability Insurance, Conduct Background Checks on Transportation Network Company Drivers, Inspect Transportation Network Company Vehicles, and Obtain a Permit from the Public Utilities Commission; and Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Ted Harvey and Reps. Dan Pabon & Libby Szabo. The bill creates a limited structure for transportation network companies, which use digital networks to connect riders to drivers who provide transportation in their area.
  • SB 14-172Concerning Employer-Paid Benefits to a Firefighter for Cardiac Illnesses Resulting from a Strenuous Work Event, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Linda Newell and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill requires any municipality, special district, fire authority, or county improvement district employing firefighters to provide benefits for heart and circulatory malfunctions.
  • SB 14-213Concerning Increasing the Statutes of Limitations for Commencing Procedures Against a Person who, After Committing a Vehicular Homicide, Leaves the Scene of the Accident, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring a Post-Enactment Review of the Implementation of this Act. The bill increases the statute of limitations for persons who leave the scene of a vehicular homicide from five years to ten years.
  • HB 14-1214Concerning an Increase in the Penalties for Certain Offenses Committed Against an Emergency Medical Services Provider, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Cheri Gerou and Sen. David Balmer. The bill adds working emergency medical service providers to the list of victims that trigger enhanced sentencing for first degree murder, first degree assault, and second degree assault.
  • HB 14-1228Concerning the Repeal of Certain Requirements for Defensive Driving Schools Attended in Accordance with a Court Order Resulting from a Violation of a Law Regulating the Operation of a Motor Vehicle and, in Connection Therewith, Reducing an Appropriation, by Reps. Cherylin Peniston & Libby Szabo and Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Steve King. The bill removes the requirement that the Department of Revenue monitor, evaluate, and report on the effectiveness of court-ordered driving programs, and eliminates the penalty surcharge on people who attend the courses.
  • HB 14-1260Concerning the Creation of Three Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Ranges for Defendants Convicted of a Felony Sex Offense Involving Intrusion Against a Child who is Under Twelve Years of Age when the Adult Defendant is At Least Ten Years Older that has One of the Ranges Starting at Ten Years as the Minimum in the Range, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating an Indeterminate Lifetime Sentence with a Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Range of Ten to Sixteen Years for a Class 4 Felony; a Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Range of Eighteen to Thirty-Two Years for a Class 3 Felony; and a Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Range of Twenty-Four to Forty-Eight Years for a Class 2 Felony, by Rep. Mike Foote  and Sen. Mike Johnston. The bill changes the sentencing parameters for adults who commit felony sex offenses on children under age 12.
  • HB 14-1279Concerning the Creation of a State Income Tax Credit to Reimburse a Business for Personal Property Taxes Paid in the State, by Reps. Dianne Primavera & Dave Young and Sens. Rollie Heath & Mark Scheffel. The bill creates a state income property tax credit to reimburse businesses for the amount of business personal property tax paid in Colorado.
  • HB 14-1383Concerning the Required Number of Physicians that Must Be Provided to an Injured Employee for Selection of a Treating Physician in Workers’ Compensation Cases, by Rep. Angela Williams and Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Jessie Ulibarri. The bill requires employers to provide injured workers a choice of at least four physicians at two or more distinct locations, with exceptions for rural areas.

On Friday, June 6, 2014, the governor signed 53 bills, allowed one to become law without a signature, and vetoed one bill. The bill he allowed to become law without a signature was HB 14-1371 Concerning Property Taxation of Oil and Gas Leaseholds and Lands and, in Connection Therewith, Specifying that the Wellhead is the Point of Valuation and Taxation for Such Leaseholds and Lands, which changed the point of taxation for oil and gas wells from the production point to the wellhead. The governor issued a statement about the bill (available here).

The bill the governor vetoed Friday was HB 14-1375Concerning Modifications to Statutory Provisions Governing Urban Redevelopment to Promote the Equitable Financial Contribution Among Affected Public Bodies in Connection with the Tax Increment Financing of Urban Redevelopment Projects. The governor’s statement regarding this bill is available here.

Summaries of some of the bills the governor signed on Friday are available here.

  • HB 14-1269Concerning the Circumstances Under Which a Person who Sells Items Subject to Sales Tax Must Collect Such Sales Tax on Behalf of the State, by Reps. Lois Court & Angela Williams and Sen. Mike Johnston. The bill expands the definition of “nexus” for sales tax purposes, broadening the types of business activity that create taxable sales.
  • HB 14-1280Concerning Limits on Liability for Agritourism, by Rep. Timothy Dore and Sen. Gail Schwartz. The bill renames “agricultural recreation activities” as “agritourism” and excludes marijuana-related activities from its definition.
  • HB 14-1321Concerning the Membership of the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving, by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Steve King. The bill changes the name of the Interagency Task Force on Drunk Driving to the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving and makes several changes to membership requirements.
  • HB 14-1333Concerning the Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Randy Fischer & Don Coram and Sens. Gail Schwartz & Ted Harvey. The bill appropriates funds from the Colorado Water Conservation Board Construction Fund for specific projects and authorizes certain other transactions.
  • HB 14-1343Concerning Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Peace Officers, by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Jared Wright and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill allows firefighters and peace officers to file workers’ compensation claims for post-traumatic stress disorder and specifies parameters for filing such claims.
  • HB 14-1356Concerning an Increase in the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission’s Penalty Authority and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Matt Jones. The bill increases the penalties for violations of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act.
  • HB 14-1362Concerning Great-Grandparent Visitation with Great-Grandchildren, by Rep. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Jessie Ulibarri. The bill allows great-grandparents to seek visitation rights with their great-grandchildren under the same circumstances as grandparent visitation rights are allowed.
  • HB 14-1387Concerning Revisions of Capital Related Statutes in the Colorado Revised Statutes and, in Connection Therewith, Amending or Repealing Obsolete, Inconsistent, and Conflicting Provisions of Law and Clarifying the Language to Reflect Legislative Intent and Current Application of the Law, by Reps. Libby Szabo & Randy Fischer and Sen. Gail Schwartz. The bill updates statutes related to capital construction projects and makes additional changes.
  • HB 14-1390Concerning the Legal Standing of a Member of the Public in Challenging a Violation of the Open Meeting Requirements, by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Bob Gardner and Sens. Greg Brophy & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill clarifies that anyone denied rights provided by the Open Meetings Law has standing to challenge the denial.
  • HB 14-1398Concerning the Provision of Financial Services to Licensed Marijuana Businesses, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sens. Pat Steadman & David Balmer. The bill allows for the creation and regulation of marijuana financial services cooperatives referred to as “cannabis credit co-ops” or CCCs, a new type of financial services entity with membership restricted to licensed marijuana businesses.
  • SB 14-021Concerning the Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness who are Involved in the Criminal Justice Systems, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Steve King and Rep. Jared Wright. The bill extends the repeal date of the Legislative Oversight Committee for the Continuing Examination of the Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness who are Involved with the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems. The bill also specifies areas of examination for the committee.
  • SB 14-064Concerning Restricting the Use of Long-Term Isolated Confinement for Inmates with Serious Mental Illness, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Jessie Ulibarri and Rep. Joseph Salazar. The bill requires the DOC to review the mental health status of offenders in segregation every 90 days, and requires that prior to placing an inmate in segregation, a review of the inmate’s mental health status should occur to determine if such placement is allowed.
  • SB 14-117Concerning the Reauthorization of the Regulation of Real Estate Appraisers by the Board of Real Estate Appraisers through a Recreation and Reenactment of the Relevant Statutes Incorporating no Substantive Amendments other than those Approved During the First Regular Session of the 69th General Assembly, by Sen. Cheri Jahn and Rep. Randy Fischer. The bill corrects an oversight from Senate Bill 13-155 and extends the repeal date of the Board of Real Estate Appraisers (board) in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) through September 1, 2022.
  • SB 14-129Concerning Changes to Criminal Provisions Related to Marijuana and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Jenise May. The bill affects a number of criminal provisions related to marijuana, including adding penalties for underage consumption and possession.
  • SB 14-193Concerning Conforming Colorado Law on Location Information with the Fourth Amendment as Interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Jones, by Sens. Morgan Carroll & Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill prohibits a state agency from obtaining location information from an electronic device without first obtaining a search warrant, with some exceptions.
  • SB 14-215Concerning the Disposition of Moneys Collected by the State in Connection with the Legal Marijuana Industry, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Reps. Crisanta Duran & Cheri Gerou. The bill creates the Marijuana Cash Tax Fund for tax revenue collected by the legal marijuana industry, and identifies the purposes for which funds may be appropriated from the Marijuana Cash Tax Fund.

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

Probate, Domestic Relations, Juvenile Law, Workers’ Comp Bills, and More Signed by Governor

Governor Hickenlooper continues to sign legislation, and has signed 54 bills in the last week. To date, he has signed 317 bills and vetoed two bills. Some of these are summarized here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • SB 14-005Concerning Alternative Administrative Remedies for the Processing of Certain Wage Claims, and, in Connection Therewith, Amending the Provisions for Written Notices of a Wage Claim, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Sen. Jessie Ulibarri and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill authorizes the Division of Labor to develop an administrative process to handle wage claim cases.
  • SB 14-190Concerning Criminal Discovery, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating a Statewide Discovery Sharing System, a Criminal Discovery Surcharge, Civil Immunity for District Attorneys that Make a Good-Faith Effort to Redact Information from Discovery Documents, and Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Cheri Gerou. The bill implements the recommendations of the Discovery Task Force regarding creating and maintaining a statewide eDiscovery system.
  • SB 14-201Concerning Reestablishing a Child Protection Ombudsman Advisory Work Group to Develop a Plan for Accountable Autonomy for the Child Protection Ombudsman Program, by Sen. Linda Newell and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill creates a new advisory work group to evaluate the Office of Child Protection Ombudsman Program and recommend ways to improve efficiency.
  • SB 14-203Concerning the Office of the Respondent Parents’ Counsel in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse or Neglect, by Sens. Kent Lambert & Linda Newell and Reps. Jenise May & Bob Gardner. The bill creates the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel in the Judicial Department in order to provide legal representation to low income respondent parents in dependency and neglect cases.
  • HB 14-1273Concerning Human Trafficking, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Reps. Beth McCann & Jared Wright and Sens. Linda Newell & Gail Schwartz. The bill amends several statutory provisions concerning human trafficking.

Friday, May 30, 2014

  • HB 14-1080Concerning a Sales and Use Tax Exemption for the Colorado Ute Indians, by Reps. Mike McLachlan & Don Coram and Sen. Ellen Roberts. The bill clarifies that sales tax doesn’t apply to purchases made on reservations.
  • HB 14-1119Concerning an Income Tax Credit for the Donation of Food to a Hunger-Relief Charitable Organization, by Rep. Mike McLachlan and Sens. Mary Hodge & Ellen Roberts. The bill creates an income tax credit for individual and corporate taxpayers who donate food to hunger-relief charitable organizations.
  • HB 14-1222Concerning Modification of the Terms Under Which a County May Issue Tax-Exempt Private Activity Bonds on Behalf of an Eligible Applicant for the Purpose of Financing a Geothermal Energy Project on the Applicant’s Property, by Rep. Mike McLachlan and Sens. Gail Schwartz & Ellen Roberts. The bill changes several provisions regarding private activity bonds issued by counties.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

  • HB 14-1030Concerning the Establishment of Incentives for the Development of Hydroelectric Energy Systems, by Reps. Don Coram & Diane Mitsch-Bush and Sens. Gail Schwartz & Ellen Roberts. The bill facilitates the development of hydroelectric energy systems by the State Electrical Board and the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
  • HB 14-1275Concerning Authorization for the Parks and Wildlife Commission to Purchase Real Property to Build a Multi-Use Shooting Facility, by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Don Coram and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Ellen Roberts. The bill allows the Parks and Wildlife Commission to purchase certain real estate in Mesa County to build a multi-use shooting facility.
  • HB 14-1303Concerning the Receipt of Public Testimony from Remote Locations Around the State by Legislative Committees, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Reps. Ray Scott & Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Gail Schwartz. The bill allows the Executive Committee of the Legislative Council to establish policies to allow remote testimony from more than one location in Colorado.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

  • HB 14-1278Concerning Continuation of the Workers’ Compensation Accreditation Program Administered by the Division of Workers’ Compensation, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2013 Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill continues the Workers’ Comp Accreditation Program and requires the DWC to conduct a study on the potential impact on the state of adopting the current version of the AMA Guides to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
  • HB 14-1323Concerning Restrictions on the Ability of a Government Entity to Access an Individual’s Personal Medical Information, by Rep. Dianne Primavera and Sens. Kevin Lundberg & John Kefalas. The bill places restrictions on the Department of Revenue’s use of personal medical information, and requires the DOR to receive an individual’s permission before accessing personal medical information.
  • HB 14-1322Concerning the Colorado Probate Code, by Rep. Mike McLachlan and Sen. Ellen Roberts. The bill makes several changes to the Colorado Probate Code provisions concerning control and distribution of estate assets.
  • HB 14-1363Concerning the Nonsubstantive Revision of Statutes in the Colorado Revised Statutes, as Amended, and, in Connection Therewith, Amending or Repealing Obsolete, Imperfect, and Inoperative Law to Preserve the Legislative Intent, Effect, and Meaning of the Law, by Rep. Bob Gardner and Sen. Ellen Roberts. This bill, the Revisor’s Bill, makes several nonsubstantive changes to the Colorado Revised Statutes in order to repeal or amend obsolete or unclear provisions of the law.
  • HB 14-1379Concerning Clarifying the Application of the Spousal Maintenance Statutes, by Rep. Beth McCann and Sen. Andy Kerr. The bill clarifies the applicability of prior spousal maintenance statutes in cases filed prior to January 1, 2014.
  • SB 14-184Concerning Oversight of the Industrial Hemp Program, by Sen. Gail Schwartz and Rep. Don Coram. The bill modifies existing statutes related to the industrial hemp program and creates an industrial hemp research grant program.
  • SB 14-191Concerning the Procedures for Resolution of Workers’ Compensation Claims, by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill makes several changes to provisions regarding the resolution of workers’ compensation claims.
  • SB 14-206Concerning Criminal Record Sealing Provisions, and, in Connection Therewith, Relocating the Record Sealing Provisions in a New Part, Clarifying when an Arrest Record can be Sealed, and Making Other Clarifying Changes, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill reorganizes statutes regarding sealing of criminal records and relocates them to another section of statute.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • HB 14-1156Concerning Extending the Age of Eligibility for the Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Kevin Priola and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill expands eligibility for the Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Program from kindergarten through 2nd Grade to kindergarten through 12th Grade.
  • HB 14-1301Concerning the Safe Routes to School Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Dianne Mitsch Bush and Sen. Andy Kerr. The bill appropriates funds to the CDOT in order to continue the Safe Routes to School program, which distributes funds to projects to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in school areas.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Potential Father Entitled Appointed Counsel in Termination of Parental Rights Hearing

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Petition of R.A.M. on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

Parental Rights—Termination—Due Process—Right to Counsel.

Mother filed a petition to relinquish her parental rights to the child and named father as the only potential father of the child. With her petition for relinquishment, mother also filed a petition to terminate father’s parental rights. Father was served the petition, summons, and notice to terminate in jail. Father responded to the petition by indicating that he did not wish to relinquish his rights. The court proceeded to hearing without advising father of his rights or considering his request for counsel, and began the hearing without father’s presence. After considering the matter, the court found by clear and convincing evidence that father was the child’s parent. The court agreed with the adoption agency’s interpretation of the relinquishment statute and found that the law required that father be able to assume legal and physical custody of the child “at the time of the hearing.” Because father was incarcerated and thus unable to assume legal and physical custody of the child that day, the court granted the petition and terminated father’s rights.

On appeal, father contended that the trial court violated his due process rights when it failed to appoint counsel for him at the termination hearing. The Court of Appeals agreed. First, father sufficiently expressed his desire for the assistance of counsel. Also, father had an important interest, the state’s interest was not weak, and the risk of error in this case was extremely high. Before the hearing, neither the petition to terminate his rights, nor the notice to terminate his rights or the summons advised father of the allegation to be proven at the hearing: that he cannot personally assume legal and physical custody of the child, taking into account the child’s age, needs, and individual circumstances. Therefore, taking into consideration all of these factors, father had a due process right to counsel. The court’s order denying father’s CRCP 60(b)(3) motion was reversed, the judgment terminating his parent–child legal relationship was vacated, and the case was remanded.

Summary and full case available here.

Veterans Bills, Hepatitis C Bill, Marijuana Bills, and Many Others Signed by Governor

Though the General Assembly has adjourned for 2014, the governor continues to sign legislation. To date, the governor has signed 283 bills and vetoed two bills. He signed bills most days during the week of May 19, and signed veterans bills on Memorial Day – May 26, 2014. Some of these are summarized here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

  • SB 14-173Concerning the Recommendation that Certain Persons be Offered a Test for the Hepatitis C Virus, by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Steve King and Reps. Jonathan Singer & Frank McNulty. The bill recommends that health care providers offer a test to screen for hepatitis C to anyone born between 1945 and 1965.
  • SB 14-174Concerning the Creation of the Prosecution Fellowship Program, by Sens. Rollie Heath & Mike Johnston and Reps. Mike McLachlan & Dan Pabon. The bill provides a fund in the Department of Higher Education for fellowships for recent Colorado law school graduates to pursue careers as prosecutors in rural areas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

  • HB 14-1178Concerning a Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Qualified Property Used in Space Flight, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Reps. Mark Ferrandino & Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Mary Hodge & Kevin Grantham. The bill exempts qualified space flight personal property from sales and use tax.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

  • SB 14-123 - Concerning the Authority of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, and, In Connection Therewith, Providing Additional Rule-Making Authority; Raising the Maximum Fee for Certification and Skills Exams; Allowing Awarding Grants to Nonprofit Organizations; Denying Certification for Municipal Violations; and Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Daniel Kagan. The bill makes several adjustments to the rule-making authority of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board and allows fee increases, denial of certification, and more.
  • SB 14-155Concerning Grant Funding for Medical Marijuana Health Effects Studies, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Reps. Jenise May & Crisanta Duran. The bill creates a grant program to fund scientific research on the use of marijuana as a part of medical treatment.
  • HB 14-1032Concerning the Provision of Defense Counsel to Juvenile Offenders, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Daniel Kagan and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill makes several changes to the procedures concerning providing defense counsel for juvenile offenders.
  • HB 14-1288Concerning Information Available Regarding Personal Belief Exemptions to Immunization Requirements for Children Prior to Attending School, by Rep. Dan Pabon and Sen. Irene Aguilar. The bill expands the requirements necessary for parents to waive the immunization requirement for their children prior to attending school.
  • HB 14-1361Concerning the Authority of the State Licensing Authority to Establish Equivalencies for Retail Marijuana Products, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Frank McNulty & Jonathan Singer and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Steve King. The bill requires the Department of Revenue to establish rules regarding the equivalency of marijuana flowers and marijuana concentrate by January 1, 2016.
  • HB 14-1366Concerning Reasonable Restrictions on the Sale of Edible Retail Marijuana Products, by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Frank McNulty and Sens. Mike Johnston & Steve King. The bill removes the requirement that marijuana flowers be sold in childproof packaging and maintains the requirement for edible marijuana products.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • SB 14-051Concerning Access to Records Relating to the Adoption of Children, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Lori Saine. The bill eliminates different standards for the release of adoption records, and generally seals those records from all but eligible recipients.
  • SB 14-118Concerning Improving Protections for Individuals with Disabilities, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Jovan Melton. The bill changes definitions to conform to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and increases penalties for certain offenses.
  • HB 14-1042Concerning Access by Birth Parents to Records Relating to the Relinquishment of Parental Rights, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Lori Saine and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill requires the custodian of records to release certain records to relinquishing birth parents at the time of relinquishment.
  • HB 14-1372Concerning Unauthorized Advertising for Adoption Purposes, by Reps. Kathleen Conti & Beth McCann and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill prohibits advertising through a public medium for purposes of facilitating adoptions.

Monday, May 26, 2014

  • HB 14-1205Concerning the Veterans Assistance Grant Program, by Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill creates the Veterans Assistance Grant Program, which will provide financial assistance to nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies providing services to improve the health and well-being of veterans in the state.
  • HB 14-1373Concerning Individuals Who May Claim the Property Tax Exemption for Qualifying Seniors and Disabled Veterans, by Reps. Steve Lebsock & Ray Scott and Sens. Larry Crowder & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill allows certain individuals to claim a property tax exemption when those individuals would not ordinarily be allowed to claim the exemption.

For a list of the governor’s legislative decisions, click here.

Bills Regarding Provision of Social Workers for Juveniles, Annual Reports for Public Benefit Corporations, and More Signed

Governor Hickenlooper continues to sign legislation that cleared both houses this 2014 Legislative Session. He signed bills on Wednesday, May 14, 2014; Thursday, May 15; Friday, May 16; and Saturday, May 17. To date, he has signed 248 bills and vetoed two. Some of the bills signed each day last week are summarized here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • SB 14-164Concerning Aerial Firefighting Efforts Through the Division of Fire Prevention and Control in the Department of Public Safety, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing Recommendations Made by the Division Regarding the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps, by Sens. Morgan Carroll & Steve King and Reps. Bob Gardner & Mike McLachlan. The bill directs the Division of Fire Prevention to maximize its aerial firefighting capabilities.
  • HB 14-1010Concerning Corrections to Statutory Provisions Relating to the Prescribed Burning Program Administered by the Division of Fire Prevention and Control in the Department of Public Safety, by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. George Rivera. The bill renames “prescribed burn manager” as “certified burner” and removes persons with this credential from the list of persons who may attend a prescribed burn in a supervisory role.
  • HB 14-1023Concerning the Provision of Social Workers to Juveniles, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Jessie Ulibarri. The bill allows
    the Office of the State Public Defender to hire social workers to assist in juvenile defense cases, and specifies that any reports generated are to be considered evidence in the case.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

  • SB 14-073Concerning the State Income Tax Credit for the Environmental Remediation of Contaminated Land in the State, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Sen. Cheri Jahn and Rep. Cheri Gerou. The bill creates an income tax credit for individuals, organizations, and “qualified entities” that perform any approved environmental remediation of contaminated property.
  • SB 14-092Concerning the Creation of the Crime of Insurance Fraud, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. George Rivera and Rep. Angela Williams. The bill classifies insurance fraud as a crime and identifies fraudulent actions for insurance claimants, agents, and brokers.
  • SB 14-156Concerning a Requirement that a Public Benefit Corporation file an Annual Report, by Sens. John Kefalas & Rollie Heath and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill requires Public Benefit Corporations to file annual reports that discuss the ways in which the corporation has promoted its specified public benefits and that assess its overall social and environmental performance against a third-party standard.
  • HB 14-1044Concerning Consequences for a Parolee who Tampers with an Electronic Monitoring Device that the Parolee is Required to Wear as a Condition of Parole, by Rep. Timothy Dore and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill provides that if a parolee tampers with an electronic monitoring device, he or she is subject to immediate warrantless arrest.
  • HB 14-1144Concerning Measures to Improve the Performance of District Attorneys, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Bob Gardner and Sen. Mike Johnston. The bill provides for cost-sharing of salaries for entry-level deputy district attorneys.
  • HB 14-1347Concerning Statutorily Established Time Periods that are Multiples of Seven Days, by Rep. Lois Court and Sen. Linda Newell. The bill continues to revise statutes so that statutorily established time periods conform to the “rule of seven.”
  • HB 14-1353Concerning Powers of Appointment, by Rep. Bob Gardner and Sen. Mike Johnston. The bill creates the Uniform Powers of Appointment Act (act), as recommended by the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws.

Friday, May 16, 2014

  • SB 14-011Concerning the Colorado Energy Research Authority, by Sen. Rollie Heath and Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst. The bill changes the name of the Colorado Renewable Research Authority to the Colorado
    Energy Research Authority and creates a cash fund.
  • HB 14-1005Concerning Clarification of the Requirements Applicable to a Change of Point of Water Diversion, by Reps. Jerry Sonnenberg & Dave Young and Sens. Kevin Lundberg & John Kefalas. The bill clarifies that if a ditch owner relocates a headgate to a new surface point of diversion, as long as the relocation does not physically interfere with the complete use of or enjoyment of other water rights, the owner does not need to file a change of water right application.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

  • HB 14-1001Concerning the Creation of a Property Tax Reimbursement for a Taxpayer that Owes Property Tax on Property that has been Destroyed by a Natural Cause, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Jeanne Nicholson. The bill creates a reimbursement program for property taxes paid on a property that has been destroyed by a natural disaster.
  • HB 14-1159Concerning a State Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Components used in Biogas Production Systems, by Reps. Angela Young & Timothy Dore and Sens. Gail Schwartz & Larry Crowder. The bill creates a sales and use tax exemption for equipment used to capture biogas to be used as a renewable natural gas or the equipment used to turn biogas into electricity.
  • HB 14-1281Concerning the Allowance for Terminally Ill Patients to have Access to Investigational Products that have not been Approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration that Other Patients have Access to when they Participate in Clinical Trials, by Reps. Joann Ginal & Janak Joshi and Sens. George Rivera & Irene Aguilar. The bill allows terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs without participating in a clinical trial.
  • HB 14-1349Concerning the Creation of an Exemption from Property Taxes for Qualifying Business Entities Controlled by Nonprofit Organizations that are Formed for the Purpose of Qualifying for Federal Tax Credits, by Reps. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst & Brian DelGrosso and Sen. Rollie Heath. The bill broadens eligibility for nonprofits for federal tax credits to LLCs and limited partnerships.

For a list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2014 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Error in Trial Court’s Refusal to Provide Expert Witness Without Funding to Indigent Defendant

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Stroud on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

Child Abuse—Expert Witness Funding—Indigency—“Admission”—Dependency and Neglect Testimony—Effective Representation—Consecutive Sentences—Presentence Confinement Credit.

This appeal arises from allegations of child abuse concerning defendant’s 11-week-old daughter, R.S., and his stepchildren, C.H. and S.H. The judgment was affirmed.

On appeal, Stroud contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion for funds to hire an expert. Here, Stroud was eligible for a court-funded expert because he was indigent and represented by a private attorney who began representing him on a pro bono basis. Thus, the trial court should have provided him expert witness funding without an initial determination of indigency by the Public Defender’s Office. Although the trial court abused its discretion, however, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, because Stroud did not establish that an expert was necessary and there was overwhelming evidence of his guilt.

Stroud also contended that the trial court erroneously admitted his testimony from a previous dependency and neglect case. An “admission” under CRS § 19-3-207(3) only refers to a parent’s formal admission or denial of the allegations in a petition. It does not preclude admissions made during testimony in a dependency and neglect case in a subsequent criminal case. Therefore, the trial court did not err in admitting Stroud’s testimony from his dependency and neglect case.

Next, Stroud argued that his convictions for child abuse should have been reversed because his trial counsel labored under an actual conflict of interest that denied him effective assistance of counsel. Here, the absence of expert testimony did not undermine defense counsel’s representation. Further, the record refutes Stroud’s argument that his trial counsel did not vigorously contest the prosecution’s evidence. Accordingly, there was no actual conflict of interest that adversely affected defense counsel’s performance.

Finally, Stroud contended that the trial court did not make specific findings of fact to justify its imposition of consecutive sentences for his misdemeanor and felony convictions, and that the trial court erroneously denied him presentence confinement credit. Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences after considering the nature of the offense, Stroud’s character and rehabilitative potential, his respect for the law, the deterrence of crime, and protection of the public. Further, the court did not abuse its discretion in applying Stroud’s credit for presentence confinement to his misdemeanor sentence rather than his felony sentence.

Summary and full case available here.

SB 14-203: Creating the Office of the Respondent Parents’ Counsel to Provide Representation in Dependency and Neglect Proceedings

On April 16, 2014, Sen. Kent Lambert introduced SB 14-203 – Concerning the Office of the Respondent Parents’ Counsel in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse or Neglect. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill establishes the office of the respondent parents’ counsel in the state judicial department, effective July 1, 2015, to provide high-quality legal representation to parents involved in dependency and neglect proceedings and who lack the financial means to obtain legal representation.

On April 23 the Judiciary Committee amended the bill and sent it to the Appropriations Committee. On April 25, the Appropriations Committee approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate for consideration on 2nd Reading.

SB 14-201: Reestablishing an Advisory Work Group Related to the Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman

On April 16, 2014, Sen. Linda Newell introduced SB 14-201 – Concerning Reestablishing a Child Protection Ombudsman Advisory Work Group to Develop a Plan for Accountable Autonomy for the Child Protection Ombudsman Program. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill creates a new advisory work group related to the office of the child protection ombudsman (office). The duties of the advisory work group include reconciling the implementation of recommendations from the 2010 advisory work group with the current operations and function of the office and making additional recommendations for autonomy and accountability as appropriate. Appointments to the advisory work group must be made no later than 60 days after May 14, 2014, and the advisory work group must convene on or before August 1, 2014. The advisory work group shall provide a report to the health and human services committee of the senate and the public health care and human services committee of the house of representatives, or any successor committees, the governor, and the executive director on or before December 1, 2014.

The advisory work group is repealed, effective July 1, 2016.

On April 24, the Health & Human Services Committee amended the bill and sent it to Legislative Council; on April 25, Legislative Council Committee amended the bill and sent it to the full Senate for consideration on 2nd Reading.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Not Entitled to Second Amendment Instruction for Firearm Used In Conjunction with Illegal Drug Transactions

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Cisneros on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Jury Instructions—Challenge for Cause—Deadly Weapon—Evidence—Right to Bear Arms—Controlled Substance—Miranda Rights—Motion to Suppress Statements—Res Gestae Evidence.

Defendant was at home with his wife, four children, brother, and mother when intruders who apparently intended to rob defendant fired shots into the apartment. Defendant grabbed a handgun and fired shots toward the intruders. Defendant’s 10-year-old daughter was caught in the crossfire. She was shot in the head and died at the scene.

The People charged defendant with child abuse resulting in death, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of marijuana–eight ounces or more, and one special offender count under the special offender statute’s deadly weapon provision. The People alleged that defendant was an armed drug dealer who sold drugs out of his home, thereby placing his daughter in a situation that posed a threat of injury to her health. The People also alleged that defendant possessed the handgun in connection with his drug dealing business.

Regarding defendant’s contention on appeal for an elemental jury instruction concerning possession of a deadly weapon under CRS § 18-18-407(1)(f), the Court of Appeals ruled that the instructions as a whole properly informed the jury of the elements of the sentence aggravator and the proof beyond a reasonable doubt burden. The Court also ruled that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s findings that defendant possessed both a controlled substance and a deadly weapon, and to infer a nexus between the controlled substance and the weapon.

The Court determined that because the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions do not protect the unlawful purpose of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug offense, the Second Amendment right to bear arms in self-defense does not infringe on the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. Defendant was not entitled to the statute’s instruction. Further, because the jury found that defendant’s possession of the handgun was related to his drug offense, the statute was not unconstitutional as applied to him, nor was it unconstitutionally vague.

The Court did not agree with defendant’s argument that his statements to law enforcement officers should have been suppressed. Defendant was not in custody and was not being interrogated when he provided his statement to the officer at the scene or in the waiting room at the police station, and defendant voluntarily made statements to police after they advised him of his Miranda rights. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to suppress.

The Court ruled that the trial court did not err in denying defendant’s causal challenge to a juror who worked as a reporter for The Denver Post. The record supported the court’s finding that this juror could “do what the law requires” and could handle any consequences of his relationship with law enforcement agencies.

Defendant contended that the trial court erred when it admitted, as res gestae, evidence concerning his prior acts of buying, selling, and receiving marijuana. This evidence, however, was relevant as to defendant’s knowledge and intent to distribute the marijuana, his possession of a deadly weapon in connection with that offense, and the dangerous circumstances in which defendant allowed his daughter to live. Therefore, the court did not err in admitting it. The judgment and sentence were affirmed.

Summary and full case available here.