May 23, 2019

Archives for February 17, 2016

Run, Walk, Roll, and Fundraise for Disability Law Colorado

colfaxmarathonJoin the Disability Law Colorado team for the Colfax Marathon weekend for fun in the sun! We race to ensure that people with disabilities and older people receive the same civil rights people without disabilities do — living in the community, working at a meaningful job, going to school, and enjoying Colorado’s vast recreational opportunities.

This year’s Colfax Marathon will be May 14-15, 2016. The Colfax Marathon offers several opportunities for runners of different abilities — there is a full marathon, a half marathon, an Urban 10-Miler, a marathon relay race where five people run distances ranging from 3.9 to 6.4 miles, and a Colfax 5K. Any of these races can be run to support Disability Law Colorado — just choose “Run for a Nonprofit” before you register and select Disability Law Colorado.

Not up for a full marathon? Or even a half? That’s okay, you can do a leg of the marathon relay! If you don’t have a full team, contact Julie Busby at 303-722-0300, x507 or jbusby@disabilitylawco.org, and she will help connect you to other runners.

We race to make a difference! Register and join our team at www.runcolfax.org, or get more information by calling Julie Busby at 303-722-0300, x507. Learn more about Disability Law Colorado and how we help by visiting www.disabilitylawco.org.

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Colorado Court of Appeals: Computer Crime Statute not Overbroad Facially or As Applied

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Stotz on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

Matthew Stotz and Gustav Eicher (defendants) were managers for the Denver office of Electric Power Systems (EPS), a nationwide company that performs electrical testing for utilities. In July 2012, defendants and three other employees resigned from EPS and began working for a competitor, EPC. When defendants returned their company laptops to EPS, there were several files missing, including bids for clients, operation manuals, and emails. EPS paid a forensic computer company to recover the deleted files, but the recovery data was incomplete and difficult to use. EPS initiated a civil suit against Stotz, Eicher, and the other three employees, and in October 2012 the district court issued a preliminary injunction, enjoining defendants from using information pertaining to bids they had obtained while at EPS and ordering them to return the missing files that they had saved onto external hard drives. Stotz and Eicher had already returned the data in September 2012.

In November 2012, EPS submitted a formal complaint to the Economic Crime Unit of the Denver District Attorney’s Office, and the DA’s office filed criminal charges against Stotz and Eicher in January 2013. EPS sought and obtained, over objection of defendants, dismissal without prejudice of the civil suit. Defendants were charged with computer crime causing loss of more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, conspiracy to commit computer crime, conspiracy to commit theft, theft of trade secrets, and conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. A jury convicted them only of the felony computer crime charge, and they were sentenced to a suspended two-year prison sentence with two years of probation and ordered to pay $104,920.26 in restitution.

Defendants appealed, arguing the computer crime statute was unconstitutionally vague both as applied and on its face because it provides inadequate guidance as to what conduct is prohibited, it criminalizes lawful conduct, and it impermissibly left the determination of criminality to EPS. The court of appeals rejected all of defendants’ arguments. The court noted that the deletion of thousands of documents from an employer’s computer clearly falls within the statutory definition of “damage,” and that definition is specific enough to provide notice to a person of ordinary intelligence that the deletion of thousands of documents may cause damage to the computer’s data. The defendants’ facial challenge based on the definition of “damage” therefore failed. Next, analyzing defendants’ as-applied challenge, the court of appeals rejected defendants’ theory that they could do whatever they wanted with their employer-owned laptops. The court noted that the truth of defendants’ assertion was a fact question for the jury, and not a question of whether the statute provided fair notice.

The court similarly rejected defendants’ overbreadth challenge, based on a theory that the statute punishes conduct that can legitimately occur within the course of business. Because defendants’ knowingly destroyed the data on the computers without company permission, their conduct fell within the State’s purview of regulation. The court declined to examine other circumstances in which the statutory language could be applied in an overbroad fashion.

Finally, defendants argued the restitution award was unreasonable because they had returned the information to EPS. Because EPS employees spent considerable time and money trying to recover the information deleted by defendants before they returned it, the district court found no error in the amount of the restitution award. The court of appeals affirmed, finding no abuse of discretion.

The court of appeals affirmed the district court.

HB 16-1023: Allowing the Use of Deadly Physical Force by Business Owners Against Intruders

On January 13, 2016, Rep. Everett and Sen. Lambert introduced HB 16-1023Concerning the Use of Deadly Physical Force Against a Person Who Has Made an Illegal Entry Into a Place of Business. The bill was assigned to the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.

This bill introduces amendments to an already existing bill, extending the right to use deadly force against an intruder under certain conditions to include owners, managers, and employees of businesses.

There are a number of proposed amendments to C.R.S. § 18-1-704.5, “Use of deadly physical force against an intruder.” First, under subsection (1), instead of the statute stating that citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes, the amended statute will state that absolute safety is expected within citizen’s dwellings and places of business.

Second, under subsection (2), it is proposed that the statute include that not only any occupant of a dwelling be justified in using any degree of physical force, but also any owner, manager, or employee of a place of business. Additionally, “place of business” has been proposed to be included where deadly force may be used against a person who has made an unlawful entry. “The owner, manager, or employee” is also proposed to be included in the statute where those persons have a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed by the person making an unlawful entry into the place of business.

Third, owners, managers, and employees of a place of business are proposed to be included under subsection (3) and (4) of the statute, making those persons immune from criminal prosecution and civil liability if deadly force is used in accordance with subsection (2) of the statute.

Lastly, it has been proposed to amend C.R.S. § 18-1-705, “Use of Physical Force in Defense of Premises,” to read “he or she” and “himself or herself” instead of referring only to males.

Mark Proust is a 2016 J.D. candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

HB 16-1005: Allowing Residential Use of Rain Barrels for Collection of Precipitation

On January 13, 2016, Rep. Esgar and Danielson and Sen. Merrifield introduced HB 16-1005Concerning the Use of Rain Barrels to Collect Precipitation from A Residential Rooftop for Nonpotable Outdoor Uses. The bill was assigned to the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee.

This bill allows residences to collect precipitation and reuse it on their residential property but only for outdoor purposes. A rain barrel is categorized as a storage container with a sealable lid that is used for collecting precipitation from a downspout of a rooftop. The bill specifies that the rain barrel must be located above ground outside of the residential home.

The bill says that precipitation from a rooftop may be collected if:

  • No more than two rain barrels are used, both having a combined storage capacity of one hundred ten gallons;
  • The precipitation collected comes from the rooftop of a building primarily used as a single-family residence or a multi-family residence with four or less units;
  • The collected precipitation must be used for outdoor purposes only, such as watering lawns or gardens; and
  • The precipitation collected is used only on the residential property from which it was collected.

The bill prohibits using the collected precipitation for drinking water or indoor household purposes.

The State Engineer is required by the bill to provide information on its website regarding the allowances and limitations of the use of rain barrels to collect precipitation. Additionally, in the event that the Department of Public Health and Environment develops best practices in accordance with C.R.S. § 25-1.5-210 the State Engineer is required to post a link on its website to the Department’s best practices list.

C.R.S. § 25-1.5-210 lays out the circumstances where the Department must develop best practices. The Department has to develop best practices for

  • Nonpotable usage of the collected precipitation, and
  • Disease and pest vector control.

If best practices are developed regarding the nonpotable usage of the collected precipitation, the Department must first post the best practices on its website, and second, inform the State Engineer that best practices have been posted so that the State Engineer may post a link on its website.

Mark Proust is a 2016 J.D. candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.