August 21, 2019

Archives for May 16, 2011

Denver Drug Court to Hold Graduation Ceremony in Celebration of National Drug Court Month

The Denver Drug Court will hold a special graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, to celebrate National Drug Court Month and the twenty-second anniversary of the establishment of drug courts throughout the nation.

Thirty-eight men and women are slated to graduate from the Denver Drug Court program on Wednesday, bringing the total number of 2011 graduates to 102. Last year, 232 people graduated from the program. “Graduation marks a drug court participant’s completion of a 12- to 24-month intensive treatment program that includes probation supervision, in-court review hearings, substantial judicial oversight, and full accountability of the Drug Court participant.”

The ceremony will be held at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, 520 W. Colfax Ave., in the Jury Room, Room 100, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Among those scheduled to speak are Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael L. Bender and former governor Bill Ritter.

The Denver Drug Court was originally established in 1994 as one of the first drug courts in the country. In 2007, the Denver Drug Court was redesigned to become more effective. The court is absorbing nearly 40 percent of the criminal filings that would otherwise land on a traditional district court docket, greatly reducing the amount of time the court needs to process a drug case.

National Drug Court Month is coordinated on a national level by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which was established in 1994 to assist in the planning, implementation and operation of drug courts. What started in a Florida courtroom 22 years ago has become the nation’s most successful strategy for dealing with substance-abusing offenders. The Denver Drug Court graduation is being held in concert with graduations in many of the 2,500 Drug Courts across the country.

Activities and commemorations during National Drug Court Month will center on the theme “Drug Courts: A Proven Budget Solution.”

Weld County Conducting Court Service-Improvement Program This Week

This week, judges, magistrates, clerks, and other court employees will collect data to help improve the way the courts of Colorado’s Nineteenth Judicial District conduct their business. The program was first instituted in 2008, using public surveys to gather information and assess the functioning and accessibility of the courts in the district. In the last three years, the surveys have been used at least once in each of Colorado’s twenty-two judicial districts. Weld County was one of the first districts to participate in the initial survey.

On Wednesday, court employees will spend time talking to people about their experiences as jurors, parties to a case, or as recipients of other Judicial Branch services. Attorneys, law enforcement officers, and anyone who does business with the courts will be encouraged to participate. People exiting the buildings at the Weld County Court Complex will be asked whether they had business with the courts and are willing to fill out a brief anonymous survey. Survey forms will be available in English and Spanish.

The survey is designed to measure public opinion about access to and fairness of the courts. Questions include whether people felt safe in the building, whether they could easily understand the forms they needed, and whether they felt their case was handled in a fair manner. Participants also are asked whether they felt the judge or magistrate listened to them, whether they had all the necessary information before making a decision, and whether they felt they were treated with courtesy and given clear information about the next step in their case.

The new information will be used not only to check the progress of changes initiated since the first round of surveys, but also to support the possibility of further improvements. Two areas initially identified as needing attention were the website and setting performance goals. The website has been completely redesigned to improve access and usability. The district also now regularly monitors case processing, data integrity, and case closure rates to further help ensure the second area is being addressed.

In Fiscal Year 2010, more than 43,100 cases were filed in the Weld County Combined Courts, including 12,615 cases filed in District Court, 509 in the Water Court, and 30,039 in Weld County Court.

Governor Hickenlooper Signs Seven More Bills into Law

At the end of last week, seven more bills reached Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk and were signed into law. The bills were the twentieth group to emerge from the 2011 General Assembly.

  • SB 11-060
    • Sponsored by Sens. Boyd and White and Reps. B. Gardner and A. Kerr. Concerning the Alcohol Content of Alcohol Beverages Available for Consumption at a Licensed Premises.
  • SB 11-078
    • Sponsored by Sen. Morse and Rep. B. Gardner. Implementation of Recommendations of the Committee on Legal Services in Connection with Legislative Review of Rules and Regulations.
  • HB 11-1212
    • Sponsored by Reps. Tyler and Hullinghorst and Sen. Spence. Inclusion of Lean Government Principles in the Performance-Based Budgeting.
  • HB 11-1254
    • Sponsored by Reps. Priola and S. Schafer and Sen. Steadman. Measures to Reduce the Frequency of Bullying in Schools.
  • HB 11-1188
    • Sponsored by Rep. Liston and Sen. Newell. Franchise Agreements for a Dealer to Sell Vehicles.
  • HB 11-1219
    • Sponsored by Reps. Levy and Lee and Sen. Newell. Concerning the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act.
  • SB 11-169
    • Sponsored by Sen. Boyd and Rep. Summers. Regulation of People Working within a Physical Therapist’s Scope of Practice.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2011 legislation decisions click here.

Tenth Circuit: No Opinions, 5/13/11

On Friday, May 13, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and no unpublished opinion.

State Judicial Issues Revised District/County Civil Garnishment Form

Friday, the Colorado State Judicial Branch issued a revised form regarding district civil and county civil garnishment claims. Practitioners should begin using the new form immediately.

All forms are available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word formats. Many are also available as Word templates; download the new form from State Judicial’s individual forms pages, or below.

District Civil/County Civil

  • Form 30 – “Claim of Exemption to Writ of Garnishment With Notice” (revised 5/11)

Tenth Circuit: Courts Should Consider Ability to Pay and Effect on Paying Restitution When Imposing Fines

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Vigil on Thursday, May 12, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s sentence, vacated Petitioner’s sentence, and remanded for resentencing. Petitioner was arrested after police pulled him over and found a vast cache of counterfeit identifications and other materials indicative of identity theft. Petitioner reached a plea deal with the government; at sentencing, the district court applied a two-level enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines, which allowed the enhancement where “the offense involved receiving stolen property, and the defendant was a person in the business of receiving and selling stolen property.” The district court also imposed a $10,000 fine over Petitioner’s objection, despite the finding in the Presentence Report that he did not appear able to pay a fine. Petitioner contends that the district court erred in both applying the enhancement and imposing the fine. He argues that the enhancement only applies where a defendant actually has sold stolen property, and there is no evidence that he ever sold stolen property in this case. Also, he argues that the imposition of the fine was improper in light of his inability to pay a fine and his obligation to pay restitution.

The Court agreed with Petitioner. The district court did not make any findings of fact as to whether Petitioner actually sold any stolen property. Instead, the court based its application of the enhancement on “what [Petitioner] was about, what he had in his possession and what he admitted to doing with this property that he would steal and make use of. . . . This reflects a legal conclusion that using stolen property equates with selling stolen property,” a conclusion that is incorrect. As to the fine, the Court the found that although the fine was well within the applicable guidelines, the record does not reflect “the district court’s consideration of the pertinent factors prior to imposing the fine.” The Presentence Report found that Petitioner did not appear to be able to pay a fine and the district court did not address at all the issue of his ability to pay. No reason at all was provided by the court for imposing the fine. Additionally, the district court did not consider whether the imposition of the fine might impair Petitioner’s ability to pay the restitution ordered. Under these circumstances, the district court abused its discretion in imposing the fine.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/12/11

On Thursday, May 12, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued three unpublished opinions in addition to three published opinions.


United States v. Villalobos-Lopez

United States v. Saignaphone

United States v. Gutierrez-Vicente

No case summaries are available for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.