August 23, 2019

Archives for May 26, 2010

Legislation: Ritter Closes Citizens United Loopholes by Enacting SB 10-203 Election Law Reform

On Tuesday, Governor Bill Ritter signed SB 10-203 (.pdf), a Democratic-sponsored bill that will help cinch closed any loopholes in state campaign finance laws that opened as a result of the United States Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (.pdf) in January of this year.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora; Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Boulder; and Rep. Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, requires corporations and labor unions to register their election campaign donations with an independent agency, showing both the donor and the amount of the donation. Said Sen. Morgan at yesterday’s signing:

American Democracy is built on a foundation of fair and free elections. To ensure fair and free elections, Colorado voters have consistently voted for transparency and accountability in the election process. We are protecting that legacy by holding corporations and unions to the same standards of accountability and transparency as we do for individuals.

With its Citizens United decision, the nation’s high court overturned a century-old position barring direct corporate advocacy of candidates running for political office, and gave corporations and unions the green light to purchase political ads in the 60-day run-up to elections. The decision quickly touched off a firestorm of criticism and controversy.

Of the state bill’s enactment, Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher remarked, “Colorado has a strong commitment to transparency for political spending and Senate Bill 203 attempts to capture how those dollars are used to support and oppose candidates in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Secretary Buescher was CBA CLE’s guest speaker at an expert panel discussion shortly after Citizens United was announced, at which he and fellow election law experts Ed Ramey, Martha Tierney, Richard Westfall, and Maurie Knaizer analyzed the constitutional ramifications of the SCOTUS opinion and reporting and compliance issues it was likely to raise.

To read Legal Connection’s previous coverage of legislative and case law developments following the Citizens United decision, see here.

Legislation: Ritter Enacts Bills to Ease Criminal Justice System

As part of his election platform to ease an overburdened criminal justice system in Colorado, Governor Bill Ritter signed into a law a suite of bipartisan bills that will make the state “tough on crime and smart on crime.”

Remarked the governor at the bills’ signing:

Our criminal justice system is tasked with one of the most important responsibilities in our society – maintaining public safety and protecting communities. What we have created here in Colorado, particularly the past few years, is a system that is tough on crime and smart on crime.

We can do both. We are doing both, because public safety is not a zero-sum game. Certainly, we can always do better. We can always make improvements. And that’s what we are doing here today by signing this legislation into law.

Six of the bills were based on the recommendations of the governor’s Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCCJJ), which Ritter formed in 2007 to review criminal justice policies in Colorado, conduct empirical research into policies and practices, and make recommendations to the governor. The 2010 legislative bills that came out of the CCCJJ’s latest research and recommendations are:

  • HB 10-1081 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver) statutorily reclassifies money laundering offenses as fraud and allows the state to prosecute offenders under the Colorado Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.
  • HB 10-1338 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver) changes the standards of probation eligibility for two-strike felony offenders.
  • HB 10-1347 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs) makes jail time mandatory for repeated DUI offenders.
  • HB 10-1352 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver) offers sentencing reform by way of substance-abuse treatment and education programs, as well as mental health treatments, in lieu of incarceration for certain drug possession offenses. It also decriminalizes possession of smaller amounts of certain drugs.
  • HB 10-1373 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, and Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Arvada) allows for concurrent, rather than consecutive, sentencing in certain escape cases.
  • HB 10-1374 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, and Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction) permits the Parole Board to change how it determines who is eligible for parole and the offender’s conditions for parole.

Reps. Levy and Waller are members of the CCCJJ.

Ritter also signed four other crime bills that did not come from the CCCJJ:

  • HB 10-1277 (.pdf) (sponsored by Reps. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, and Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs; and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver) expands the prohibition of sexual conduct among the incarceration population and staffers in correctional institutions.
  • HB 10-1360 (.pdf) (sponsored by Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver) amends certain state statutes to reduce the rate of recidivism among prison populations by raising the standard of what constitutes a parole violation.
  • HB 10-1413 (.pdf) (sponsored by Reps. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Mike May, R-Parker; and Sens. Linda Newell, D-Littleton and Kevin Lundberg, R-Bertoud) amends the way juveniles are charged with offenses.
  • SB 10-054 (.pdf) (sponsored by Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Arvada, and Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder) allows for incarcerated juveniles charged as an adult and awaiting trial to receive educational services.

Proponents of the bills say that, collectively, the bills could save the state nearly $91 million over the next five years.

(image source: Office of the Governor)

Colorado Court of Appeals: Week of May 17, 2010

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and 45 unpublished opinions for the week of May 17, 2010.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. Case announcements are available here.

Tenth Circuit: Opinions, 5/25/10

The Tenth Circuit on Tuesday issued two published opinions and six unpublished opinions.

Published

In, Bunton v. Atherton, the Court affirms the district court’s denial of Petitioner Bunton’s request for federal habeas relief.

In, Hooks v. Workman, the Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Petitioner Hooks’ request for federal habeas relief as to his murder convictions, but the Court finds that the Allen charge the trial court gave the jury during penalty-phase deliberations, “when considered in the context of all surrounding circumstances, coerced the jury into returning death sentences.” The Court therefore reversed and remanded to the district court to grant habeas relief on Petitioner’s five death sentences.

Unpublished

Spaulding v. Astrue

United States v. Love

Yellowbear v. Attorney General

Ngatuvai v. Utah Community Credit Union

Kirby v. Janecka

Winrow v. Jones