June 16, 2019

Archives for July 24, 2013

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender to Retire

ChiefJusticeBenderThe Colorado State Judicial Branch released a formal announcement that Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender will retire January 7, 2014, on his 72nd birthday. The Colorado Constitution mandates that judicial officers retire by the age of 72.

As reported by Legal Connection, Justice Nancy Rice will become the new Chief Justice upon Justice Bender’s retirement. The Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet on October 8 and 9 to select and interview nominees for the vacancy on the supreme court. Qualified applicants will be registered electors in the State of Colorado and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years.

Application forms are available from the ex officio chair of the nominating commission, Justice Bender, or on the State Judicial webpage. Applications must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on September 3, 2013. Any person wishing to suggest a candidate for the vacancy may do so by submitting a letter to any member of the nominating commission with a copy to the ex officio chair. Those letters must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on August 19, 2013.

Additional instructions for applications for appellate court vacancies can be found here, as can contact information for members of the Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission.

Tenth Circuit: Federal and State Sentences May Run Consecutively

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Chavez on Tuesday, July 23, 2013.

Francisco Chavez was arrested and charged in both California state court and Colorado federal district court on charges stemming from his involvement in a methamphetamine smuggling ring that operated between California and Colorado. He pleaded guilty to both charges. Chavez was first sentenced in federal court. At his federal sentencing hearing, Chavez asked that the court allow him to serve his federal sentence concurrently with his still-to-be-imposed state sentence. The government agreed with this recommendation, but the district court rejected it and ordered that Chavez’s federal sentence run consecutive to his state sentence.  Chavez appealed this ruling, alleging the sentence was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable.

The Tenth Circuit reviewed Chavez’ procedural reasonableness claim for plain error. A district court commits a procedural sentencing error by failing to consider sentencing factors enumerated in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) or by failing to offer an individualized assessment of how the factors apply in a particular criminal defendant’s case. However, the record reflected that the district court reasoned: “it is the Court’s general belief and the belief in particular in this matter that if a defendant violated a federal law, there needs to be consequences [for] that, and that those consequences need to be independent of the consequences that might flow from the violation of a state law.” This statements and others from the district court demonstrate its consideration of the imposition of a consecutive sentence in this case.

Chavez also alleged that his sentence was substantively unreasonable. The Tenth Circuit reviewed this claim for abuse of discretion. The Court examined whether the length of the sentence was reasonable given all the circumstances of the case in light of the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). A sentence is presumed reasonable if it falls within the properly calculated guideline range. Chavez suggested the Court should not apply the presumption of reasonableness to his sentence because at the time the sentence was imposed, the district court did not know the full length of the sentence to be served, given that sentencing on the state charges was still pending. However, Chavez’s proposed rule would essentially exempt from the presumption of reasonableness every federal sentence imposed prior to a state sentence. More importantly, the length of the time he will serve does not exceed the upper end of the month range calculated by the district court. Thus, Court saw no reason not to apply the presumption of reasonableness to Chavez’s sentence.

The Tenth Circuit found no error in the federal district court’s exercise of sentencing discretion, and therefore AFFIRMED.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 7/23/13

On Tuesday, July 23, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued three published opinions and four unpublished opinions.

Zvunca v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.

United States v. Eaton

Scaife v. Kansas Department of Corrections

United States v. Hernandez-Lizardi

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

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 7/22/13

On Monday, July 22, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and one unpublished opinion.

Baker v. Buckner

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