January 29, 2015

HB 15-1010: Creating Presumption of Notification to Beneficiaries by Trustee

On January 7, 2015, Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Dan Nordberg and Sen. Cheri Jahn introduced HB 15-1010 — Concerning a Presumption that a Trustee has Notified a Beneficiary when the Trustee has Adopted a Beneficiary Notification Procedure, and, in Connection Therewith, Clarifying that a Trustee May Deliver Information to Beneficiaries Electronically. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Current law requires a trustee to keep beneficiaries of a trust informed about the status of the trust. The bill creates a presumption that a beneficiary has received information or a statement of account when the trustee has procedures in place requiring the mailing or delivery of information or a statement of account to a beneficiary. The presumption applies to electronic notifications if the beneficiary has agreed to receive such electronic delivery or access and to a beneficiary’s receipt of a final account or statement.

The bill was assigned to the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. The bill passed through the committee unamended and also survived Second and Third Reading in the House with no amendments.

HB 15-1064: Clarifying Who May Access a Decedent’s Safe Deposit Box

On January 7, 2015, Rep. Dan Nordberg and Sen. Chris Holbert introduced HB 15-1064 — Concerning Access to the Safe Deposit Box of a Decedent, and, in Connection Therewith, Limiting the Obligations of Custodians who Access the Box. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill clarifies who has access to the safe deposit box of a decedent. A custodian of a safe deposit box is not deemed to have acquired knowledge, either actual or constructive, pertaining to the value of any of the contents of the box delivered to a person as a consequence of the custodian’s examination and delivery of such contents.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Frederick Skillern: Real Estate Case Law — Contracts, Purchase and Sale, Transactions (5)

Editor’s note: This is Part 8 of a series of posts in which Denver-area real estate attorney Frederick Skillern provides summaries of case law pertinent to real estate practitioners (click here for previous posts). These updates originally appeared as materials for the 32nd Annual Real Estate Symposium in July 2014.

By Frederick B. Skillernfrederick-b-skillern

In the Interest of Delluomo v. Cedarblade
Colorado Court of Appeals, April 10, 2014
2014 COA 43

Revocable living trust; breach of fiduciary duty; undue influence; no attorney fees under breach of trust exception to American Rule.

Delluomo created a revocable living trust and included all of his assets, including title to his real property. He named two beneficiaries, his niece, Cedarblade, and his nephew, Corcoran. Cedarblade uses undue influence (according to the jury) on her uncle and gets him to convey title to Delluomo and herself in joint tenancy. Corcoran objects, and ultimately a conservator is appointed for Delluomo, who brings suit to set aside the property conveyance. The case is tried to a jury, which finds that Cedarblade breached a fiduciary duty. The court set aside the conveyance and granted Cedarblade’s directed verdict on damages. The court did, however, allow the jury to award attorney fees for prosecuting the litigation, as an exception to the American rule allows fees in actions for breach of trust.

The court of appeals reverses that ruling, drawing a distinction between a garden variety breach of fiduciary duty and the kind of breach of trust in which a court has allowed recovery of attorney fees. The lead case is Buder v. Sartore, 774 P.2d 1383, 1390-91 (Colo. 1989), where a custodian of a minor’s account mismanaged funds by investing the funds in penny stocks. The court here notes that Colorado courts have denied recovery of litigation fees “when the circumstances do not involve a type of fund, type of wrong, or type of wrongdoer” at issue in Buder. In other words, Cedarblade did not manage funds for her brother or serve as his trustee; she was a beneficiary, and only controlled funds after her wrongful act. A mere existence of a fiduciary duty is enough; the breach of trust exception calls for control of funds for another, and egregious conduct of some kind. A breach of trust, the court notes, is but one species of breach of fiduciary duty. It is a “failure by the trustee to comply with any duty that the trustee owes, as trustee, to the beneficiaries.” Restatement (Third) of Trusts § 93. This panel notes that our supreme court has “expressly cautioned against liberally construing exceptions to the American rule on attorney fees, because that is “a function better addressed by the legislative than the judicial branch of government.”

Frederick B. Skillern, Esq., is a director and shareholder with Montgomery Little & Soran, P.C., practicing in real estate and related litigation and appeals. He serves as an expert witness in cases dealing with real estate, professional responsibility and attorney fees, and acts as a mediator and arbitrator in real estate cases. Before joining Montgomery Little in 2003, Fred was in private practice in Denver for 6 years with Carpenter & Klatskin and for 10 years with Isaacson Rosenbaum. He served as a district judge for Colorado’s Eighteenth Judicial District from 2000 through 2002. Fred is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and received his law degree at the University of Colorado in 1976, in another day and time in which the legal job market was simply awful.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Assets in Revocable Trust are Assets of Settlor and Can Be Sold to Satisfy Creditor Claims

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Independent Bank v. Pandy on Thursday, January 15, 2015.

Foreign Judgment—Domesticated Judgment—Lien—Statute of Limitations—Interlocutory Appeal—Quiet Title.

In August 2010, Independent Bank (Bank) obtained two judgments against Joseph Pandy in a Michigan state court. In April 2012, the Bank domesticated the Michigan judgment in the district court in Grand County, Colorado. It then filed transcripts of the domesticated judgments with the Grand County Clerk and Recorder in January 2013 to obtain a judgment lien against Joseph Pandy’s real property in the county, including the C Lazy U Homesteads. At that time, the Joseph Pandy, Jr. and Elizabeth Pandy Living Trust (Trust) held title to the C Lazy U Homesteads. In March 2014, the Bank filed a “Complaint for Quiet Title and Decree of Foreclosure” against the Pandys in Colorado. The complaint sought a decree that the judgment lien against Joseph Pandy individually was valid against his interest in the Trust. After the court denied the Pandys’ motion to dismiss, the Pandys filed a CAR 4.2 petition for interlocutory appeal.

The Pandys contended that their petition for interlocutory appeal satisfies the requirements of CAR 4.2. Here, if the statute of limitations in CRS § 13-80-101(1)(k) bars the Bank’s complaint, the litigation would be resolved without the need for a trial. Because the issue presented is both case dispositive and presents an unresolved question of law, the Pandys’ petition for interlocutory appeal satisfies the requirements of CAR 4.2.

The Pandys also contended that the three-year statute of limitations in CRS § 13-80-101(1)(k) bars the Bank’s complaint. The three-year statute of limitations is inapplicable to the Bank’s complaint because the Bank was not seeking a judgment. The applicable statute here is CRS § 13-52-102(1), which gives the Bank six years from the date of the Michigan judgment to foreclose on the judgment lien. Because the Bank brought its quiet title and foreclosure action within six years of the Michigan judgment, the action is not precluded by the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the three-year statute of limitations in CRS § 13-80-101(1)(k) does not bar the Bank’s complaint for quiet title on and foreclosure of the Trust’s property. The order was affirmed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Status as VA Designated Payee Does Not Confer Priority for Appointment as Conservator

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Estate of Runyon on Wednesday, December 31, 2014.

Appointment of Uniform Veterans’ Guardianship Act Guardian—Appointment of Guardian by Incapacitated Person.

Gladys Runyon (mother) was the authorized payee for Sidney Runyon’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits until August 2011, when Elizabeth Knight (sister) became the payee. In February 2012, the VA designated Colorado State Bank and Trust (Bank) as payee.

The Bank petitioned for appointment as Runyon’s guardian under the Uniform Veterans’ Guardianship Act (UVGA). It also petitioned to have Jeanette Goodwin appointed as Runyon’s guardian under the Colorado Probate Code. The Denver Probate Court concluded that the Bank’s petitions were filed in the wrong venue but appointed Goodwin as emergency guardian through August 2012.

Ten months after the expiration of the emergency guardianship, mother and sister sought appointment as co-guardians and conservators in Arapahoe County. Runyon advised the court-appointed visitor that he didn’t want mother and sister appointed. The court appointed counsel for Runyon.

The Bank then entered an appearance and sought appointment as conservator and UVGA guardian, and nominated Goodwin as guardian. At the hearing, Runyon’s attorney advised the court of Runyon’s preferences to appoint the Bank and Goodwin as conservator and guardian, and the court granted the appointments.

On appeal, mother and sister argued that the trial court erred because (1) their purported status as designated payees for Runyon’s VA and Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits entitled them to be appointed, and (2) the court should not have given effect to Runyon’s preferences. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the first point and remanded for further proceedings on the second.

The appointment of a guardian lies within the sound discretion of the probate court. A respondent’s nomination of a guardian creates a priority for that nominee, but only if the respondent had “sufficient capacity to express a preference” at the time of the nomination. The respondent may make an oral nomination at an appointment hearing. There is a similar scheme for appointment of conservators and UVGA guardians.

Here, mother and sister had no priority claim to be a guardian or conservator, and being appointed as designated payees of Runyon’s SSA and VA benefits did not confer any such priority claim on them. By nominating the Bank and Goodwin at the hearing, Runyon conferred on them a priority for appointment. However, the record did not reflect whether the trial court found that Runyon had sufficient capacity to express a preference at the time of the nomination. The Court remanded for such a determination, but noted that a finding that a respondent is an “incapacitated person” under the statute does not necessarily mean that the respondent lacks sufficient capacity to express a preference as to a guardian or conservator.

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

Various JDF Forms Amended in October and November

The Colorado State Judicial Branch continued amending JDF forms in October and November 2014, with updated forms released in the criminal, domestic relations, FED, probate, and miscellaneous categories. Forms are available for download here in PDF format, and are available in Word or PDF from the State Judicial forms page.

CRIMINAL

  • JDF 219 – “Juvenile Delinquency – Application for a Public Defender” (issued 11/14)

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

  • JDF 211 – “Request to Reduce Payment for ODR Services and Supporting Affidavit” (revised 10/14)

FORCIBLE ENTRY & DETAINER (FED)

  • JDF 100 – “Instructions for Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED)/Eviction” (revised 11/14)
  • JDF 140 – “Instructions for Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED)/Eviction for Owner Occupied Mobile Home” (revised 11/14)

MISCELLANEOUS

  • JDF 450 - “Order re: Appointment of Counsel at State Expense Other Than the Public Defender in a Criminal or Juvenile Delinquency Proceeding” (revised 11/14)

PROBATE

  • JDF 906 – “Instructions for Probate With a Will” (revised 10/14)
  • JDF 907 – “Instructions for Probate Without a Will” (revised 10/14)

For all of State Judicial’s JDF forms, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Department of Revenue’s Challenge to Conservation Easement Tax Credits Barred by Statute of Limitations

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Markus v. Brohl, Exec. Dir. of Colorado Department of Revenue on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Conservation Easement Tax Credits—Review Period by Department of Revenue—Summary Judgment.

In 2004, three pairs of landowners created conservation easements (CEs) on their lands, had them appraised, and sold them to the Otero County Land Trust for a portion of their appraised value. They applied part of the CE tax credits to their 2004 income tax liability. The landowners (CE donors) carried forward the remainder of the CE credits, some for personal use and some for the use of third parties.

On September 28, 2009, the Colorado Department of Revenue (Department) disallowed the entire CE tax credit of one pair of landowners because of a purported deficiency in the appraisal. For the same reason, in April 2010, the Department disallowed the claims of CE tax credits of the each of the second pair of landowners. The disallowances, under a four-year limitations period, affected only the donors’ use of claimed CE credits in the 2005–08 tax years.

On cross-motions for summary judgment, the CE donors argued that the four-year limitations period had expired before the Department acted to disallow their tax credits. The Department argued that the limitations period commenced each time a CE donor or transferee applied a CE tax credit to his or her tax liability and that it could evaluate the original claims for purposes of disallowing the use of credits for the 2005–08 tax years. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the CE donors.

On appeal, the Department argued that the district court erred in its limitations determination, and that there was a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment as to whether the CE donors had filed false or fraudulent tax returns. The Court of Appeals found that the applicable general statute of limitations was four years, and the time period commenced at the filing of a tax return. Under this system, the Court was inclined to side with the Department.

However, CRS § 39-22-522 specifically addresses the tax consequences of a CE. Under that statute, claimed CE tax credits may be transferred to third parties, who are then bound by “the same statute of limitations” as the CE donor. The Court supported an interpretation where a purchaser–transferee would have a low risk of disallowance of the CE credits by the Department. Here, because the Department did not challenge the validity and value of the CE tax credits prior to April 15, 2009, it was barred from disallowing them.

The Department also argued that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the CE donors filed false or fraudulent tax returns that precluded summary judgment. After reviewing the record, the Court found no genuine dispute of any material fact. The judgment was affirmed.

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

JDF Forms Amended in Domestic, Probate, Miscellaneous, and Other Categories

The Colorado State Judicial Branch continued revising forms in August and September. Revised forms include many instructions in the domestic relations category, some probate forms, the flexible caption and other miscellaneous forms, the district civil cover sheet, and more.

Forms are available for download here as PDF documents. For Word versions of most of the forms, visit State Judicial’s Forms page.

DOMESTIC

  • JDF 1099 – “Instructions to File for a Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation if there are No Children of this Marriage or if Children are Emancipated” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 1100 – “Instructions to File Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation With Children of this Marriage” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 1220 – “Instructions to Register a Foreign Decree Pursuant to § 14-11-101, C.R.S.” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 1266 – “Instructions to File for a Dissolution or Legal Separation of Civil Union if there are No Children of this Civil Union or the Children are Emancipated” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 1268 – “Instructions to File for a Declaration of Invalidity of a Civil Union (Annulment)” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 1413i – “Instructions for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 1600 – “Instructions to File for a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage (Annulment)” (revised 9/14)

PROBATE

  • JDF 840 – “Instructions for Appointment of a Guardian – Adult” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 862 – “Order Appointing Conservator for Minor” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 921 – “Order Admitting Will to Formal Probate and Formal Appointment of Personal Representative” (revised 8/14)

MISCELLANEOUS

  • JDF 207 – “Request and Authorization for Payment of Fees” (revised 8/14)
  • Flexible Caption – “Standard Flexible Caption for Pleadings” (revised 8/14)

MONEY CASES

  • JDF 601 – “District Court Civil Cover Sheet” (revised 8/14)

NAME CHANGE

  • JDF 420 – “Instructions for Filing for a Change of Name (Minor)” (revised 9/14)
  • JDF 421 – “Petition for Change of Name (Minor Child)” (revised 9/14)

SEAL MY CASE

  • JDF 416 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Arrest and Other Criminal Records Other Than Convictions” (revised 9/14)

For all of State Judicial’s forms, click here.

JDF Forms Revised in Domestic, Probate, Seal My Case, and Other Categories

The Colorado State Judicial Branch revised many forms in July and August 2014. Several summons forms in the Domestic Relations category were revised, and additions of Returns of Service and Waivers and Acceptance of Service were made available for download as Word documents to accompany the revised forms. A new category was added for sealing underage alcohol and marijuana cases for offenses occurring after July 1, 2014. Forms were also amended in the Adoption, DMV Appeal, Probate, Miscellaneous, and Water categories.

Forms are available for download here as PDF documents, and are available as Word documents or Word templates from State Judicial’s Forms page.

Adoption

  • JDF 506 – “Notice of Adoption Proceedings and Summons to Respond” (revised 8/14)

Appeals

  • JDF 599 – DMV Appeal – “Complaint for Judicial Review Pursuant to Title 42, C.R.S., Request for Stay and Designation of Record” (revised 8/14)

Domestic

  • JDF 1102 – “Summons for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1102(a) – “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1102(b) – “Return of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1222 – “Summons for Registration of Foreign Decree” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1222(a) – “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1222(b) – “Return of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1251 -“Summons for Dissolution of Civil Union or Legal Separation of Civil Union” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1262 – “Summons for Declaration of Invalidity of Civil Union” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1262(a) – “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1262(b) – “Return of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1406 – “Motion to Modify/Restrict Parenting Time” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1414 – “Summons to Respond to Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1414(a) – “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1414(b)- “Return of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1502 – “Summons in Paternity” (8/14)
  • JDF 1502(a)- “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1502(b)- “Return of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1515 – “Summons to Disclaim Paternity” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1515(a)- “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1515(b)- “Return of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1602 – “Summons for Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 1602(a)- “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” (8/14)
  • JDF 1602(b)- “Return of Service”

Guardianship/Conservatorship/Probate/Trust & Estate

  • JDF 998 – “Instructions for Completing Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 800 – “Acknowledgment of Responsibilities Conservator and/or Guardian” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 848 – “Order Appointing Guardian for Adult” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 861 – “Petition for Appointment of Conservator – Minor” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 878 – “Order Appointing Conservator for Adult” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 999 – “Collection of Personal Property by Affidavit” (revised 8/14)

Miscellaneous

  • JDF 36 – “Petition for Relief Pursuant to §13-5-142.5 OR §13-9-124 From Federal Firearms Prohibitions Imposed Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §922(d)(4) and (g)(4)” (8/14)

Seal My Case

  • JDF 323 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Records Related to Underage Possession or Consumption of Alcohol or Marijuana (MIP)” (8/14)
  • JDF 313 – “Petition to Seal Records Related to Underage Possession and Consumption of Underage Alcohol or Marijuana (MIP)” (8/14)
  • JDF 314 – “Order Regarding the Sealing of Records Related to Underage Possession or Consumption of Alcohol or Marijuana (MIP)” (8/14)
  • JDF 416 – “Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Arrest & Criminal Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 417 – “Petition to Seal Arrest & Criminal Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 418 – “Order to Seal Arrest & Criminal Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 419 – “Order and Notice of Hearing (Sealing of Records)” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 435 – “Order Denying Petition to Seal Arrest & Criminal Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 611 – “Instructions to Seal Criminal Conviction Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 612 – “Petition to Seal Criminal Conviction Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 613 – “Order Denying Petition to Seal” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 614 – “Order and Notice of Hearing” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 615 – “Order to Seal Criminal Conviction Records” (revised 8/14)
  • JDF 617 – “Certificate of Mailing (Sealing and Conviction Actions)” (revised 8/14)

Water

  • JDF 295W – “Standardized Instructions for all Colorado Water Court Divisions” (revised 8/14)

For all of State Judicial’s forms, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Consent of All Beneficiaries Necessary to Ratify Action Contravened by Terms of Trust

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Estate of Foiles: Foiles v. Foiles on Thursday, August 14, 2014.

Trust—Beneficiaries—Breach of Fiduciary Duty.

The trustees of the Clyde Foiles Trust were Ruth Foiles, Larry Foiles, and the Farmers State Bank of Fort Morgan (Bank). Larry Foiles, along with Larry’s two children and his nephew Gregory Foiles, were beneficiaries of the trust. The trust prohibited Larry Foiles from exercising powers as trustee that were directly or indirectly for his own benefit, and required that any such actions be taken solely by the Bank. Gregory Foiles contested two transactions undertaken at least in part by Larry Foiles, alleging that the transactions were a breach of his fiduciary duty. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Larry Foiles.

On appeal, Gregory Foiles contended that the trial court improperly ruled on his breach of fiduciary duty claim. In the absence of a trust provision that would allow ratification by a co-trustee of otherwise invalid actions of a trustee, only the consent of all beneficiaries, with full capacity to give such consent and full knowledge of the relevant facts, could ratify an action of a trustee that is in violation of the express terms of a trust. Here, because Larry Foiles’s undertaking of the 2001 Section 1031 exchange of real property violated the terms of the trust, the Bank, as co-trustee, could not validly ratify that action. Under the terms of the trust, only the Bank would have been authorized to undertake such a transaction. Therefore, Gregory Foiles established a prima facie claim that Larry breached his fiduciary duty, and the trial court erred in ruling that ratification by the Bank precluded Gregory Foiles’s breach of fiduciary duty claim. The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court to make additional findings as to whether Larry Foiles met his burden to go forward with some evidence that the questionable transaction was fair and reasonable, and, ultimately, whether he was liable for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with that transaction.

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

Tenth Circuit: Oklahoma’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Bishop v. Smith on Friday, July 18, 2014.

Sally Smith, the County Clerk for Tulsa County, Oklahoma, appealed the district court’s decision that Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. Smith also challenged the standing of the plaintiffs to bring the action, and whether the Oklahoma court clerk is a proper defendant as to Oklahoma’s non-recognition provision concerning same-sex marriages performed in another state. The Tenth Circuit determined that the plaintiffs had standing, affirmed the district court’s decision, and determined that the Oklahoma court clerk was an improper party regarding the non-recognition provision. In affirming, the Tenth Circuit applied its ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert, the Utah same-sex marriage case, in which it held that plaintiffs who wish to marry a partner of the same sex seek to exercise a fundamental right and state justifications for banning such marriages that hinge on the procreative potential of opposite sex marriage do not satisfy a narrow tailoring test applicable to laws that impinge upon fundamental liberties.

Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin are Oklahomans who are in a long-term relationship and wish to marry. They sought a marriage license from the Tulsa County Court Clerk in 2009 but were denied because they are both women. They have suffered harms from the denial, including incurring legal fees to prepare estate planning documents to confer upon each other the same rights they would have in marriage. Susan Barton and Gay Phillips were married in Canada in 2005 and again in California in 2008. They have suffered adverse tax consequences as a result of Oklahoma’s refusal to recognize their marriage, and say that Oklahoma treats them as inferior to their opposite-sex counterparts.

In November 2004, Bishop, Baldwin, Barton, and Phillips filed suit against the Oklahoma governor and  attorney general, challenging Oklahoma’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The governor and attorney general filed a motion to dismiss in 2006, which was denied, and appealed that denial to the Tenth Circuit. A panel of the Tenth Circuit determined in 2009 that plaintiffs failed to name a defendant having a causal connection to their injury, such as a court clerk. On remand, the district court allowed plaintiffs to amend their complaint to add Smith in her official capacity as Tulsa County Court Clerk, and to add challenges to §§ 2 and 3 of DOMA against the United States ex rel. Eric Holder. In 2011, the United States notified the district court that it would no longer defend § 3 of DOMA on the merits, and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group was allowed to intervene to defend the law. The case proceeded to summary judgment, and Smith submitted an affidavit that she had no authority to recognize out-of-state marriages, be they of same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, the district court entered an opinion and order disposing of the defendants’ motion to dismiss and the cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court ordered that Phillips and Barton lacked standing to challenge DOMA because state law resulted in the non-recognition of their marriage; any challenge to DOMA was moot in light of the Windsor decision; Phillips and Barton lacked standing to challenge Oklahoma’s non-recognition provision because Smith is not involved in recognition; and Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage (Part A of SQ 711) violates the Equal Protection Clause. Smith appealed the decision regarding Part A and Barton and Phillips cross-appealed the conclusion that they lacked standing. The DOMA issues were not challenged.

Smith first contends that plaintiffs lack standing to challenge Part A of SQ 711 because they do not simultaneously contest a state statute to the same effect. However, the Tenth Circuit determined that a constitutional amendment would have the effect of superseding all previous statutes. The statute is not enforceable independent of SQ 711.

In addressing the merits of Smith’s appeal regarding Part A, the Tenth Circuit applied its reasoning from the Kitchen case. The Tenth Circuit opined that the Supreme Court’s dismissal in Baker v. Nelson is not controlling, plaintiffs seek to exercise a fundamental right to marry, and state justifications against same-sex marriage based on procreation fail to satisfy a strict scrutiny test. The Tenth Circuit first rejected Smith’s Baker arguments that lower courts are not free to reject summary dismissals, stating that her argument is undermined by the explicit language of the case creating the rule. Next, the Tenth Circuit evaluated her contention that children have an interest in being raised by their biological parents. The Tenth Circuit ruled that this contention is contradicted by statutes allowing adoption, egg and sperm donation, and other non-biological means for child-rearing. The Tenth Circuit noted that the state failed to raise arguments why same-sex marriage proposes a greater threat than other non-biological child-raising scenarios. Further, the Tenth Circuit stated that Oklahoma’s ban sweeps too broadly, because not all opposite-sex couples are able to procreate or are interested in procreation, and they are not denied the ability to marry.

As to the challenge to the non-recognition provision, the Tenth Circuit determined that Phillips and Barton lacked standing in this area because Smith is not a proper party. Smith submitted an affidavit to the effect that she is not able to recognize any marriages in her official capacity, and the affidavit is sufficient to establish that Smith is not a proper party regarding non-recognition. The Tenth Circuit sympathized with the plaintiffs, who have been litigating the issue for ten years, but suggested instead that if they attempted to file a joint tax return and were denied, they would be able to sue the Tax Commission regarding the denial.

The judgment of the district court was affirmed.

Probate, Domestic, Foreclosure, and Transcript Request Forms Revised

In June and July 2014, the Colorado State Judicial Branch issued several revised JDF forms. The Transcript Request Form, JDF 4, was revised in July and crosses many categories, including appeals, criminal, and miscellaneous. Other categories with revised forms include domestic relations, probate, and foreclosure. The revised forms are available here in PDF format, and are available for download as Word documents from the State Judicial forms pages.

DOMESTIC

  • JDF 1700 – “Instructions to File for Grandparent or Great-Grandparent Visitation” (revised 6/14)
  • JDF 1701 – “Verified Pleading Affidavit for Grandparent/Great-Grandparent Visitation” (revised 6/14)
  • JDF 1702 – “Order re: Pleading Affidavit for Grandparent/Great-Grandparent Visitation” (revised 6/14)
  • JDF 1704 – “Motion to Intervene” (revised 6/14)
  • JDF 1705 – “Order to Intervene” (revised 6/14)

EVICTIONS AND FORECLOSURES

  • JDF 618 – “Notice of Hearing for Expedited Residential Foreclosure Sale” (revised 6/14)

PROBATE

  • JDF 800 – “Acknowledgment of Responsibilities Conservator and/or Guardian” (revised 7/14)
  • JDF 841 – “Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Adult” (revised 6/14)
  • JDF 850 – “Guardian’s Report – Adult” (revised 6/14)

For all of State Judicial’s JDF forms, click here.