May 22, 2019

Colorado Judicial Institute Seeks Nominations for 2016 Judicial Excellence Awards

CJIOn Tuesday, March 8, 2016, the Colorado Judicial Institute announced that it is seeking nominations for its 2016 Judicial Excellence Awards. The awards acknowledge the efforts of Colorado’s outstanding jurists in three categories: district court judge, county court judge, and magistrate. Nominations may be submitted by justices, judges, magistrates, attorneys, clerks, court staff, and others closely involved with Colorado’s judicial system. The nomination form is available online at the Colorado Judicial Institute website.

The Colorado Judicial Institute set forth criteria for evaluating nominees in each category. The district court judge nominees should have five years’ experience on the district court bench; be creative and innovative in dealing with courtroom processes; exemplify high standards of judicial excellence through a distinguished career; display extraordinary courage, tenacity, and energy in dealing with high-profile, controversial, or difficult cases; objectively, expeditiously, and efficiently manage cases and dockets; and be recognized by members of the bar, courtroom staff, and others as respectful and even-handed but in firm control of the courtroom. County court judge nominees should have five years of experience as a judicial officer in the state court system and currently work full- or part-time; efficiently, expeditiously, and objectively manage cases and dockets; be recognized by members of the bar, courtroom staff, and others as respectful and even-handed but in firm control of the courtroom; and be respected by and have the confidence of other judges, attorneys, court staff, and others. Nominees for the magistrate award should have three years of full- or part-time experience on the bench; explain the law in terms understood by everyone who appears in the courtroom; possess a demeanor and attitude of court accessibility to all; display a high level of open communication; efficiently, objectively, and expeditiously manage cases and dockets; and be respected by and have the confidence of judges, lawyers, court staff, and others.

For more information about the Judicial Excellence Awards and to fill out the nomination form, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Action Not Final Where Amount of Taxes Owed Remains Undetermined

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Atherton v. Brohl, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Conservation Easement—Tax Credit—Damages—Jurisdiction.

In 2002 and 2005, the Athertons recorded conservation easement deeds regarding two parcels they own in Jefferson County. Thereafter, they filed income tax returns claiming conservation easement tax credits pursuant to CRS § 39-22-522, which were later disallowed by the Department of Revenue (Department). The district court found in favor of the Department and held that the tax credits were invalid, but refused to fix the dollar amount that the Athertons owed the Department, stating that any such dollar amount would have to be determined at a later phase in the proceedings.

On appeal, the Athertons argued that the district court erred in finding the tax credits invalid. The Department, on the other hand, argued that the district court’s judgment may not be final because it establishes the Athertons’ liability but failed to fix the dollar amount they owe. Because the district court’s order did not end the action in which it was entered, leaving the issue of damages to be determined, it is not a final judgment. Therefore, the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to determine the merits of the appeal, and the case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

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

The Honorable M. Jon Kolomitz to Retire from Sixteenth Judicial District Court Bench

The Sixteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet on Monday, December 10, 2012 to interview and select nominees for appointment by Governor Hickenlooper to the bench of the district court in the Sixteenth Judicial District. The Sixteenth Judicial District comprises Bent, Otero, and Crowley counties. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of the Honorable M. Jon Kolomitz.

Judge M. Jon Kolomitz was appointed to the District Court bench on February 1, 1985. He became Chief Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District in July 1988. As the Chief Judge, Judge Kolomitz performs administrative duties overseeing court administration within the District. These administrative duties are in addition to his primary duties as a trial judge. As a District Judge, Judge Kolomitz hears felony criminal, domestic relations (including Dependency and Neglect cases), probate, mental health and civil cases.

Eligible applicants to fill the vacancy must be qualified electors of the Sixteenth Judicial District, and must have been admitted to the practice of law in Colorado for five years. Applications are available from the ex officio chair of the nominating commission, Justice Brian Boatright, and also from the office of the district administrator and the State Judicial website. Applications must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on November 27, 2012.

Further information about the vacancy is available here from the Colorado State Judicial Branch.

Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board Opinion: Judge Whose Daughter is Marrying Deputy DA Must Recuse from That Attorney’s Cases but May Preside Over Cases from Other Attorneys in Same Office

The Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board issued C.J.E.A.B. Formal Opinion 2012-07 on October 31, 2012, finalized and effective October 29, 2012.

Opinion 2012-07 considered a situation where a judge’s daughter was in a relationship with a deputy district attorney in the judge’s district. The judge is a District Court judge whose docket includes criminal cases. Throughout the course if his daughter’s relationship, the judge recused himself from cases involving her boyfriend, and made a full advisement when other attorneys from that district attorney’s office appeared before him. Recently, his daughter became engaged to the deputy district attorney, and the judge requested an opinion on whether he must recuse from all cases involving the district attorney’s office, and also if he could serve as the weekly “duty judge” who reviews and approves search and arrest warrants.

The Judicial Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the judge must continue to recuse himself from any case in which the deputy district attorney who is engaged or married to his daughter appears, but he may preside over cases from other attorneys in the district attorney’s office, provided that his future son-in-law has no personal involvement in those cases and provided that he makes a full disclosure to all parties regarding the relationship.

The Judicial Ethics Advisory Board also determined that the judge can continue serving as the weekly “duty judge” as long as his future son-in-law is not involved with preparing or reviewing any of the search or arrest warrants and affidavits.

The Board considered relevant portions of the Code of Judicial Conduct in making its determination, particularly Rule 2.11(A)(1) and (2)(b), which require recusal when a judge has a personal bias or prejudice, and there is a familial relationship. The discussion also noted that the potential for impropriety is greater in the private sector than the public sector for financial and reputational reasons.

All of the Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board opinions may be found here.

Judge Robert Crowder to Resign from El Paso County Court Bench

The Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet at the El Paso County Courthouse on Monday, December 10, 2012, to interview and select nominees for the judgeship to be created by the resignation of the Honorable Robert Crowder.

Eligible applicants for the appointment must be qualified electors of the Fourth Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Applications must be submitted to the ex officio chair of the nominating commission by 4 p.m. on Monday, November 26, 2012. The appointed district court judge will serve a provisional term of two years before facing a retention election. If retained in the general election, judges serve additional six-year terms.

Further information about the vacancy is available from the Colorado State Judicial Branch.

Judge Kirk Samelson to Retire from Fourth Judicial District Court Bench

The Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet Monday, October 22, 2012, at the El Paso County Courthouse to interview and select nominees for appointment by the governor to the office of district judge for the Fourth Judicial District (El Paso and Teller counties).  The vacancy will be created by the resignation of the Hon. Kirk Samelson.  The vacancy will occur on October 8, 2012.

Judge Samelson was appointed as a District Judge in 2000 and as the chief judge of the Fourth Judicial District in 2007. Judge Samelson hears civil and criminal cases; he also performs administrative duties as chief judge.

Eligible applicants for the appointment must be qualified electors of the Fourth Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Monday, October 1, 2012. The appointed district court judge will serve a provisional term of two years before facing a retention election. If retained in the general election, judges serve additional six-year terms.

Further information about the vacancy is available here from the Colorado State Judicial Branch.

Patrick Murphy Appointed as New Eleventh Judicial District Court Judge

On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Patrick Murphy to serve as a district court judge in the Eleventh Judicial District, which covers Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, and Park counties. Murphy will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Julie G. Marshall. His appointment is effective immediately.

Murphy currently serves as the head of the Colorado State Public Defender office in Salida. He has worked as a Public Defender in the Eleventh Judicial District for seventeen years.

Murphy earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from the University of Colorado College of Law.

Revised Adoption, Appeals, Civil Court, and Juvenile Forms Issued by Colorado State Judicial

The Colorado State Judicial Branch has continued to revise forms through July and August. The most recently revised forms include forms from the adoption, appeals, county civil, district civil, and juvenile categories. Practitioners should begin using the revised forms immediately.

Most forms are available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word formats; many are also available as Word and Excel templates. Download the new forms from State Judicial’s individual forms pages, or below.

ADOPTION

  • JDF 501 – “Petition for Adoption” (Revised 7/12)
  • JDF 502 – “Petition for Stepparent Adoption” (Revised 7/12)
  • JDF 503 – “Petition for Custodial Adoption” (Revised 7/12)
  • JDF 505 – “Petition for Kinship Adoption” (Revised 7/12)

APPEALS

  • JDF 638 – “Complaint for Review of Administrative Action of the Colorado Department of Corrections” (Revised 8/12)
  • JDF 235 – “Notice of Record Certified to County Court – E-470 Case” (Revised 7/12)

COUNTY CIVIL

  • JDF 421 – “Petition for Change of Name of Minor Child” (Revised 7/12)

DISTRICT CIVIL

  • JDF 620 – “Instructions for Filing a Response to a Rule 120 Notice” (Revised 7/12)

JUVENILE

  • JDF 542 –  “D&N Motion for Special Action” (Revised 7/12)
  • JDF 543 – “Order Regarding D&N Motion for Special Action” (Revised 7/12)
  • JDF 544 – “D&N Report of Special Action” (Revised 7/12)

All of State Judicial’s forms may be found here.

Spark the Discussion: Medical Marijuana and Contracts

“Spark the Discussion” is a monthly Legal Connection column highlighting the hottest trends in the emerging field of medical marijuana law. This column is brought to you by Vicente Sederberg, LLC, a full-service, community-focused medical marijuana law firm.

By Brian Vicente, Esq. and Rachelle Yeung

If a contract is found to be valid under state law, one would assume a judge would order that both parties must carry out their legal obligations under that agreement.  However, one judge in Arapahoe County recently argued that this basic principle of contract law doesn’t apply to our state’s newest licensed businesses—if they sell medical marijuana.

Over a period of several months in 2010, a medical marijuana grower delivered approximately $40,000 worth of product to Blue Sky Care Connection, a regulated dispensary in Littleton. Blue Sky promised to compensate the grower either in cash or with a share of a potential business partnership. When Blue Sky did not follow through with either, the grower sued.

The judge quickly determined that the parties had indeed entered into a valid contract – applying a simple analysis from his first year law school days (offer, acceptance, and consideration). However, the Court complicated the straightforward dispute by inquiring sua sponte whether the contract should be found unenforceable for being against public policy.

The Court went on to reason that, despite medical marijuana being legal according to Colorado Law, the sale of medical marijuana is against public policy because it violates federal law. Though the Court’s analysis could have reasonably stopped there, it goes beyond the “case and controversy” and further finds that federal law preempts Colorado’s medical marijuana law.

Because this opinion was issued by a district court, its ruling is not binding. However, the opinion has left many within the medical marijuana industry wondering how far-reaching its effects could be. Does this opinion find that only this particular contract for this particular sale of medical marijuana was unenforceable? Or can it be expanded to be read that all contracts for the sale of medical marijuana are unenforceable? Or that all contracts related to medical marijuana are unenforceable?  This last scenario would effectively dismantle a regulated industry that both the Colorado legislature and the Colorado Department of Revenue have been carefully building for the past several years.

The people of Colorado voiced their opinion on the public policy of the state in support of medical marijuana in 2000, by the democratic adoption of Amendment 20. The legislative and executive branches further endorsed public policy in favor of medical marijuana by enacting and signing HB 10-1284, the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, in 2010.  This Code, and implementing legislation and regulations, accounts for well over one hundred pages of strict rules governing every stage of transaction—from seed to sale—for these Colorado businesses.

Shockingly, the judge’s opinion failed to take into account the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, which became effective July 2, 2010 – approximately one week after the grower made the first of several deliveries to Blue Sky. The Code actually requires certain legal relationships between growers and medical marijuana centers that would not be possible without enforceable contracts. Substantive issues aside, the fact that the Court fails to consider the most relevant piece of law in its analysis leaves one questioning the incomplete legal framework of the opinion.

There are currently seventeen states with medical marijuana laws.  Massachusetts, Arkansas, and North Dakota are primed to pass similar laws this November. Hopefully, one state judge’s hastily drafted opinion won’t pave the way to dismantle these compassionate-use laws.

Brian Vicente, Esq., is a founding member of Vicente Consulting, LLC, a law firm providing legal solutions for the medical marijuana community. He also serves as executive director of Sensible Colorado, the state’s leading non-profit working for medical marijuana patients and providers. Brian is the chair of the Denver Mayor’s Marijuana Policy Review Panel, serves on the Colorado Department of Revenue Medical Marijuana Oversight Panel, and coordinates the Colorado Bar Association’s Drug Policy Project.

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.

Theresa Slade Appointed as Eighteenth Judicial District Court Judge

On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Theresa Slade to serve as District Court Judge in the Eighteenth Judicial District, which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties. Slade will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Valeria Spencer, effective immediately.

Slade currently serves as a magistrate in the Eighteenth Judicial District, a position she has held since May 2011. In this role, she has a domestic relations docket with additional duties including preliminary hearings in felony criminal matters, juvenile court trials and mental health hearings. Prior to being a magistrate she ran a private practice, Slade & Associates, from 2000 to 2011. Previously, she was an associate municipal judge for the City of Lone Tree and an associate municipal/teen court judge for the Town of Castle Rock. In these capacities, Slade dealt with all municipal cases including theft, drug and alcohol violations, and traffic.

Slade earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Finalists Selected to Fill Judgeship on Eighteenth Judicial District Court

The Eighteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission has nominated three candidates for a district court judgeship created by the resignation of the Honorable Valeria Spencer, effective August 10, 2012.

The nominees for the bench are M. Paula Ashen of Centennial, Stephen Hensen of Littleton, and Theresa Slade of Elizabeth. All were selected by the commission on August 6.

Under the Colorado Constitution, Governor Hickenlooper has until August 22 to appoint one of the nominees as District Court Judge for the Eighteenth Judicial District, which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties.

Comments regarding any of the nominees may be sent via e-mail to the governor at judicial.appointments@state.co.us.

New Colorado Courts E-Filing System to Launch January 1, 2013

New E-Filing System: On January 1, 2013, the Colorado Judicial Branch’s new Integrated Colorado Courts E-Filing System (ICCES) will replace LexisNexis File & Serve. As of that date, all electronic filings for civil cases in the district, county, and appellate courts of Colorado will be made through the new ICCES program.

The State Judicial website has videos giving an overview of ICCES and a basic demonstration of filing a new case. Additionally, a new Pricing Model Sheet is available to review.

Pilot: On October 1, 2012, the Colorado Courts will begin the live transition from LexisNexis File & Serve to ICCES. Select judicial districts will pilot ICCES from October 1 through December 31. Pilot courts will require all e-filings be made through the ICCES system during this three-month period. Non-pilot courts will still require that all filings be made through LexisNexis. On January 1, 2013, the pilot will end and all judicial districts will fully transition to ICCES. To learn more about the pilot schedule, click here.

ICCES Account Pre-Registration: Law firms and agencies will need to register their organizations and request user accounts for ICCES. Pre-registration can be completed by clicking here.

Training: The Judicial Branch will begin ICCES training this August. Trainings will also be announced on the Judicial Branch website. To learn more about training opportunities, click here.

Stay informed about the ICCES transition by visiting the Colorado Judicial Branch’s E-Filing website, where regular updates will be posted.

E-mail ICCES-Feedback@judicial.state.co.us for any questions about the transition to ICCES.