April 19, 2019

Archives for November 10, 2015

Nine Point One Shades of Grey — Are You In Compliance?

The Law Club is performing its annual Ethics Revue next week on Tuesday and Wednesday at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret in Denver. This entertaining production features ethics vignettes in musical theater format. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have at an ethics CLE. To prove it, check out these photos from last year’s Ethics Revue. Don’t miss out – register today! Space is limited. Click here to register for Tuesday night and click here to register for Wednesday night.

Came in Like a Wrecking Ball - Law Revue - Nov. 2014

She came in like a wrecking ball.

 

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The Hunger Games, ethics style.

 

Carnac the Magnificent - Law Revue - Nov. 2014

Carnac the Magnificent.

 

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The Yale Team.

 

Finale - photo #2 - Law Revue - Nov. 2014

The grand finale. Congratulations on another successful performance!

Colorado Court of Appeals: State and Federal Constitutions Provide Same Protection Regarding Searches

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Parks on Thursday, November 5, 2015.

Vehicle—Inventory Search—Evidence—Suppression—State and Federal Constitutions.

Parks was driving a van when officers pulled him over on suspicion of fictitious license plates after observing expired plates on the van. Parks did not have a valid driver’s license or registration. In preparation to impound the van, the officers searched and inventoried the contents of the van. They seized nine plastic baggies of methamphetamine, two pipes, a digital scale, a scoop, a spoon, an empty pill bottle, two wiretap detection devices, and a receipt listing a credit card allegedly belonging to Parks. The evidence gathered from the inventory search was admitted at trial. Parks was convicted of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, driving under suspension, failing to provide insurance, displaying fictitious license plates, driving an unregistered vehicle, and six habitual criminal counts.

On appeal, Parks contended that the trial court erred by declining to suppress the evidence gathered from the inventory search of the cooler found in his van. The state and federal constitutions are coextensive in the context of inventory searches. The Colorado Constitution does not prohibit the opening and inspection of a closed container found during a vehicle inventory search if the search was conducted in accordance with a standardized departmental policy and there is no showing that the police acted in bad faith or for the sole purpose of investigation. Here, the trial court found, with record support, that the officer’s opening of the cooler was authorized by a standardized departmental policy and the officer did not act in bad faith or solely as pretext for investigation. Accordingly, the court’s denial of the motions to suppress was affirmed.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Jury Should Have Been Polled to Assess Impact of Prejudicial News Article

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Larsen on Thursday, November 5, 2015.

Juvenile—Sexual Assault—Jury—Poll—Prejudicial—News Article—Cross-Examination.

Victims A.H. and K.H. moved to Colorado with their mother S.L. to live with S.L.’s father, defendant. After learning that K.H. was sexually abused previously, defendant put K.H. in therapy. A.H. and K.H. thereafter accused defendant of touching them inappropriately. The jury convicted defendant of both charges involving the sexual assault of A.H., and he was sentenced to eight years to life in prison.

On appeal, defendant asserted that the court erred by declining to poll the jurors to ask whether they were exposed to an allegedly prejudicial news article released midtrial. The prejudicial information contained in the news article was not part of the evidence at trial, and there was a reasonable probability that the jury was exposed to the article. Accordingly, the trial court abused its discretion by not polling the jury and such error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The judgment of conviction was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

Defendant also argued that the trial court denied his right to confront multiple witnesses by excluding evidence of the Department of Human Services’ attempt to remove the victims from S.L.’s custody. However, because there was record evidence that the Department sought to take custody of S.L.’s children, the court did not abuse its discretion when it limited the cross-examination of witnesses by barring questions about the Department’s attempt to remove the victims from S.L.’s custody.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Erred by Amending Legal Sentence

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Evans on Thursday, November 5, 2015.

Department of Corrections—Attempt to Escape—Jurisdiction—Concurrent or Consecutive Sentence—Double Jeopardy.

Defendant was in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) serving a 16-year sentence when he left the Centennial Community Transition Center (CCTC) and reported to work as scheduled; however, he did not return to CCTC after completing his shift. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of attempt to escape, and the trial court imposed a three-year prison sentence without stating whether it was to be served concurrently or consecutively. The trial court thereafter ordered the sentence to be served consecutively to his original 16-year sentence.

On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to change the sentence so that the sentence for attempt to escape would be served consecutively. The Court of Appeals held that the initial sentence—which was presumptively concurrent because the court did not order otherwise—was valid. Therefore, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to later impose a consecutive sentence.

Defendant also argued, and the Court agreed, that his right to be free from double jeopardy was violated because his valid sentence was increased after he had begun serving it. The sentence was reversed, and the case was remanded with the direction that the trial court amend the mittimus to provide that defendant’s sentence for attempted escape be served concurrently with his underlying sentence.

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

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/9/2015

On Monday, November 9, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Fulton v. Colvin

United States v. Larsen

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