April 18, 2019

Archives for September 23, 2015

Colorado Supreme Court: “Negative Factor” Regarding School Funding Does Not Conflict with Amendment 23

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dwyer v. State on Monday, September 21, 2015.

Constitutional Interpretation—Amendment 23—Public School Finance Act of 1994—Negative Factor.

In this original proceeding, the Supreme Court considered the legality of the “negative factor,” a legislative enactment that operates to reduce education funding across all Colorado school districts. Plaintiffs argued that the negative factor is unconstitutional because it violates Amendment 23, a constitutional provision requiring annual increases to “statewide base per pupil funding.” The Court concluded that plaintiffs’ complaint misconstrued the relationship between the negative factor and Amendment 23. By its plain language, Amendment 23 only requires increases to 20 statewide base per pupil funding, not to total per pupil funding. The Court therefore held that the negative factor does not violate Amendment 23. Accordingly, the Court made its rule to show cause absolute, and it remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint.

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

Tenth Circuit: Stale and Weak Information Not Sufficient to Provide Probable Cause for Search

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Cordova on Monday, July 6, 2015.

An Oklahoma City police detective obtained a warrant to search Omero Cordova’s home. The warrant’s supporting affidavit was based on evidence from an unnamed informant that 21 months prior to the warrant’s execution, a drug transaction not involving Cordova had taken place outside his former home; one of the participants in that prior transaction had been at Cordova’s current home four months prior to the warrant’s execution; Cordova’s mother had purchased the home for him; and surveillance revealed that Cordova’s car was parked in his own driveway. Officers executed the search warrant and found four firearms, $12,000 in cash, 123.7 grams of marijuana, a digital scale, baggies, a heat sealer, and a ledger. The officers triggered Cordova’s security alarm, and the security company called Cordova, who returned home. He was arrested, and the officers requested that Cordova call his wife so they could determine her involvement in the drug scheme. Cordova repeatedly asserted that everything in the house was his.

Cordova was indicted on six counts, and he moved to suppress the physical evidence and his statements, arguing the affidavit did not provide probable cause to support the warrant. Although the district court agreed that the affidavit failed to provide probable cause, it allowed entry of the physical evidence and statements through the good faith exception. A jury convicted Cordova on all six counts and he was sentenced to 136 months’ imprisonment. He appealed.

On appeal, Cordova argued the affidavit contained so little indicia of probable cause that no reasonable officer would have relied on it and the district court erred in concluding otherwise. He also contends the police coerced his confession and the district court should have suppressed his statements. The Tenth Circuit agreed. Analyzing the affidavit, the Tenth Circuit found the information tying Cordova to the drug trafficking scheme was stale and weak. The Tenth Circuit noted the affidavit was devoid of any facts supporting the inference that Cordova or his home were involved in the other person’s drug transactions. The Tenth Circuit rejected the government’s argument that the other person had unfettered access to Cordova’s home, since it was based on one incident in which there was no evidence of drug activity. The Tenth Circuit remarked that the good faith exception is not limitless and could not apply in this instance.

The Tenth Circuit concluded the officers acted unreasonably in carrying out the warrant and reversed the district court’s decision. The Tenth Circuit also accepted the government’s concession that Cordova’s subsequent statements were fruit of the poisonous tree and reversed the district court’s denial of suppression.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/22/2015

On Tuesday, September 22, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and three unpublished opinions.

United States v. Clark

Ingila v. Dish Network, LLC

Martin v. County of Santa Fe

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.