April 18, 2019

Archives for February 27, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Error in Joining Trials Where CRE 404(b) Would Have Allowed Admission of Other Act Evidence

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Raehal on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

Bradford Steven Raehal was living in the basement of S.F.’s family home when he was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender. Shortly after his arrest, S.F. reported that Raehal had sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions and had taken pictures of the assaults with a grey or silver digital camera. A search executed pursuant to a warrant found the digital camera, which contained previously deleted images of Raehal assaulting S.F.

J.H., another minor who lived at S.F.’s house, first denied that Raehal had assaulted him, but later reported three separate incidents of abuse. Although the incidents differed from the incidents with S.F., both boys reported that Raehal gave them video games and rubbed lotion on their backs before the assaults, which occurred in the same location for both boys.

At first, the trials for the acts on S.F. and J.H. were separate, but the district court joined the trials over defense counsel’s objection. A jury convicted Raehal of two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust (one for acts against S.F. and one for acts against J.H.), two counts of sexual assault on a child as part of a pattern of abuse (one for acts against S.F. and one for acts against J.H.), and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child for the possession and production of sexually exploitative material relating to the pictures taken of S.F. In a separate proceeding, he was adjudicated a habitual sex offender against children. The trial court designated him a sexually violent predator and sentenced him to 112.5 years to life.

On appeal, Raehal first contended that the trials were improperly joined. Although he admitted that S.F.’s testimony would have been admissible under CRE 404(b) in J.H.’s trial, he argued the photos depicting the assaults of S.F. would not have been admissible. The court of appeals found no abuse of discretion. The court disagreed that the photographs should have been separately analyzed, and found the Spoto test inapplicable because the photos were admitted to corroborate S.F.’s testimony, not to prove a common scheme or plan. The court of appeals similarly found no error in the court’s failure to give a limiting instruction as to the photos, finding that any error could not have cast serious doubt on the reliability of the convictions.

Raehal next contended that the contents of the digital camera should have been suppressed because the examination of the camera occurred outside the 14-day window in the search warrant. The court of appeals again disagreed, finding that the camera was seized within the time limit and was not altered between the seizure and examination, so there was no error.

Raehal also contended that evidence of his prior assault of two other boys should have been rejected under CRE 404(b), but the court of appeals again disagreed, finding that although the prosecutor’s statements were somewhat misleading, there was no doubt that Raehal was convicted of only one charged offense.

Finally, Raehal argued, and the prosecution conceded, that the trial court erred in finding him a sexually violent predator without making specific findings. The court of appeals remanded for further findings on the sexually violent predator designation.

The court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

SB 17-035: Increasing Penalties for Tampering with Oil and Gas Equipment or Facilities

On January 11, 2017, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg introduced SB 17-035, “Concerning Tampering with Equipment Associated with Oil and Gas Gathering Operations.”

There is a current crime of tampering with equipment associated with oil or gas gathering operations. The bill includes placing another at risk of death or serious bodily injury as part of the crime and increases the penalty from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee. It was amended in committee and referred to the Senate Committee of the Whole for Second Reading. The bill was amended on Second Reading and laid over.

SB 17-061: Requiring School Districts to Distribute Mill Levy Revenue to Charter Schools

On January 13, 2017, Sens. Angela Williams & Owen Hill and Rep. Lang Sias introduced SB 17-061, “Concerning Distribution of Additional Operational Funding to Charter Schools.”

Beginning in the 2017-18 budget year, the bill requires a school district to distribute revenue it receives from ongoing local property tax mill levies equally, on a per-student basis, to the school district charter schools. Under specified circumstances, the school district may distribute the revenue using a different calculation. The bill does not require a school district to redistribute to charter schools any amount of the mill levy revenue that it distributed in budget years before the 2017-18 budget year.

The bill directs the department of education to calculate a mill levy equalization payment for each institute charter school in the amount of the per pupil share of the mill levy overrides of an institute charter school’s accounting district. The state will pay the mill levy equalization amounts, subject to annual appropriations.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Education Committee. It was amended in committee and referred to the Senate Committee of the Whole for Second Reading. It was amended on Second Reading and re-referred to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 17-1167: Requiring Existing Businesses to be Included in Business Improvement Districts

On February 6, 2017, Rep. Timothy Leonard and Sen. Tim Neville introduced HB 17-1167, “Concerning a Requirement that a Business Improvement District Include Existing Businesses.”

A business improvement district (district) is a type of special district created within a municipality to fund certain types of improvements that will, among other things, promote the continued vitality of existing business areas within the municipality. The law currently allows a municipality to include areas in a district that do not have any existing businesses. The bill requires these areas to have existing businesses.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the Business Affairs and Labor and Appropriations committees. It was postponed indefinitely by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 2/24/2017

On Friday, February 24, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Ward v. Denver Sheriff Department

Burks v. Raemisch

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