July 20, 2019

Archives for May 13, 2013

CBA to Host Document Shredding and Electronic Recycling Event

On Friday, June 7, 2013, the Colorado Bar Association will host a document shredding and electronic recycling event. The event will take place on the 1900 block of Grant Street in Denver from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

There is no cost for the document shredding, however, a donation of one food item or $5 per box of paper or electronic device is requested. All proceeds will benefit Metro Volunteer Lawyers. Food will be donated to an area food bank.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Violated Terms of Bonds When He Spat in the Face of a Police Officer

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Luna, Jr. on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Assault—Evidence—Violation of Bond—Jury Questions.

Defendant Arturo Luna, Jr. appealed the trial court’s judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of second-degree assault (in jail/bodily fluids), two counts of violating his bond conditions, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The judgment was affirmed.

When questioned by police regarding an alleged assault, Luna acted aggressively, spat in the direction of the officers, and then spat in the face of one of the officers. Luna was found guilty of all charged counts.

On appeal, Luna asserted that insufficient evidence existed to support his convictions of violating the terms of his bonds, because the prosecution did not present evidence to prove that his bonds were in effect at the time of the events giving rise to his conviction. Luna posted bonds in relation to two charges, one on August 28, 2009 and another February 15, 2010. The conditions of both bonds prohibited any further violations of the law. The prosecution was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the terms of the bonds were in effect at the time of the alleged illegal conduct. The prosecution presented circumstantial evidence, which when taken in the light most favorable to the prosecution, established that the bonds were in effect at the time of the charged conduct. Accordingly, the jury could reasonably infer that the bonds continued to be in effect at the time of the charged conduct.

Luna also argued that the trial court erred by issuing a misleading answer to jury questions, which asked whether the bonds were in effect on the date of the offense. In response to the jury’s question as to whether the bonds were still in effect, the trial court correctly declined to address the merits of the questions, and instead referred the jury back to the elements of each charge. Accordingly, the trial court did not commit plain error in responding to the jury’s questions.

Luna further argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction of second-degree assault, because the prosecution did not prove that he was “lawfully confined in a detention facility” at the time of the assault. CRS § 18-3-203(1)(f.5) applies to an individual lawfully confined in a vehicle who is lawfully held in custody and whose victim is a law enforcement officer. Therefore, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to support Luna’s conviction for second-degree assault.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant’s Daughter Rightly Named as Protected Person Under Mandatory Protection Order Despite Dismissal of Charge

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Sterns on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Mandatory Protection Order—Victim—Plea Agreement—Sentencing Range.

Defendant appealed from the trial court’s mandatory protection order and sentence. The order and sentence were affirmed.

Defendant was charged with three counts of solicitation to commit second-degree murder for contracting to have his daughter, his ex-wife, and her current husband killed. Before trial, defendant and the prosecution reached a plea agreement in which defendant agreed to plead guilty to an added count of second-degree attempted murder, with his ex-wife and her husband as the only named victims, as well as a crime of violence sentence enhancer, in exchange for dismissal of all other charges. At the plea hearing, the trial court accepted defendant’s plea and entered a mandatory protection order, naming defendant’s ex-wife, her husband, and defendant’s daughter as protected persons.

On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court lacked statutory authority to name his daughter as a protected person in the mandatory protection order. Adding or dropping a single charge within a multi-charge case does not dispose of the case. Thus, when the trial court dismissed the charge involving defendant’s daughter, it did not thereby dispose of the action against defendant. The action continued pursuant to the plea agreement. Accordingly, the trial court’s mandatory protection order properly included defendant’s daughter.

Defendant also contended that the trial court abused its discretion by sentencing him to a twenty-four-year term of imprisonment. Because this sentence falls within the range agreed to under defendant’s plea agreement, defendant is not entitled to appellate review of this issue.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Evidence Insufficient to Prove Knowledge that Social Security Number Belonged to Someone Else in Identity Theft Case

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Perez on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Identify Theft—Criminal Impersonation—Evidence—Mens Rea.

Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of identity theft and criminal impersonation. The convictions were vacated.

Defendant was charged with identity theft and criminal impersonation for using another person’s Social Security number to obtain employment. On appeal, defendant asserted that the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to sustain his identity theft convictions. The identity theft statute, CRS § 18-5-902, requires that the prosecution prove that the defendant knew the Social Security number at issue belonged to someone. The prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence of this element.

Defendant also contended that the evidence was insufficient to support his criminal impersonation conviction, because the prosecution failed to prove that he assumed a false or fictitious identity or capacity. Although there might have been evidence that the employers would not have hired defendant unless he had a Social Security number, there was no evidence that a Social Security number was legally required for employment. Thus, the evidence was not sufficient to prove defendant assumed a false capacity.

Summary and full case available here.

Tenth Circuit: Record Failed to Show Trial Counsel Labored Under Conflict of Interest That Deprived Defendant of Effective Assistance of Counsel

The Tenth Circuit published its opinion in United States v. Flood on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

In January 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil suit against ClearOne Communications (ClearOne), as well as the company’s CEO, Frances Flood, and CFO, Susie Strohm. The SEC alleged that Ms. Flood and her codefendants had employed a scheme to defraud, falsely filed with the SEC, committed securities fraud, kept false records, and aided and abetted false bookkeeping. The law firm of Snow Christensen & Martineau (SCM) was retained to represent Ms. Flood.  The parties were at all times represented by separate counsel. During the SEC proceedings, Ms. Flood, Ms. Strohm, and ClearOne entered into a Joint Defense Privilege and Confidentiality Agreement (Joint Defense Agreement), which enabled them to share documents, litigation strategies, and other information without waiving attorney-client privilege. Ultimately, Ms. Flood settled with the SEC.

Around the same time, Ms. Flood executed an Employment Separation and Indemnification Agreement (Separation Agreement) with ClearOne. Under the Separation Agreement, Ms. Flood agreed to resign as CEO and surrender her stock options in exchange for $350,000 and ClearOne’s promise to indemnify her “for any liability and all reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by her in connection with the SEC Action or any Related Proceedings.”

Subsequently, the government brought criminal charges against Ms. Flood and Ms. Strohm. SCM continued to represent Ms. Flood, sending invoices for its attorney’s fees to ClearOne. Initially, ClearOne paid SCM’s invoices as they became due. However, in October 2007, ClearOne requested detailed information pertaining to Ms. Flood’s representation. SCM had learned that ClearOne was sharing materials prepared under the Joint Defense Agreement with the government. Accordingly, SCM refused ClearOne’s request, explaining that it would not “disclose work product and attorney-client information.”

In April 2008, ClearOne ceased paying Ms. Flood’s attorney’s fees. Ms. Flood, represented by SCM, brought suit against ClearOne to compel payment. SCM continued to represent Ms. Flood in the criminal proceedings.

In January 2009, the court granted a preliminary injunction against ClearOne, ordering ClearOne to pay Ms. Flood’s attorney’s fees. ClearOne initially complied, but stopped making payments. SCM filed a motion to compel payment. Shortly before the criminal trial concluded, ClearOne made another payment. The jury found Ms. Flood guilty on all counts.

Ms. Flood then filed her § 2255 motion, arguing that she received ineffective assistance of counsel because her attorneys labored under a conflict of interest. The district court denied her motion. Ms. Flood appealed to the Tenth Circuit, arguing that: 1) conflicts of interest adversely affected her trial counsel’s performance; 2) the district court abused its discretion by denying her motions for an evidentiary hearing, discovery, and judicial notice; and 3) she was denied effective assistance of counsel under Strickland.

The Tenth Circuit granted a Certificate of Appealability limited to issues one and two.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the “right to representation that is free from conflicts of interest.” Wood v. Georgia, 450 U.S. 261, 271 (1981). To prevail on an ineffective assistance claim the defendant must show that her counsel’s performance was deficient and that prejudice resulted. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 692 (1984). However, “[p]rejudice is presumed only if the defendant demonstrates that counsel ‘actively represented conflicting interests’ and that ‘an actual conflict of interest adversely affected [her] lawyer’s performance.’” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 692.

After a thorough review of the record, the Tenth Circuit found that Ms. Flood offered no evidence that would suggest SCM served ClearOne’s interests instead of hers. The Court simply could not find a conflict of interest based on the facts.

Further, having carefully reviewed the entire record, including the trial transcript, the Tenth Circuit found no abuse of discretion by the district court in denying an evidentiary hearing. Nor did the Court find any abuse of discretion in the district court’s denial of Ms. Flood’s motions for discovery and judicial notice.


Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/10/13

On Friday, May 10, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

King v. Patt

Sadik v. Holder

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