July 20, 2018

Bills Signed Enacting Uniform Trust Code, Creating Civil Rape Shield Law, Helping Preserve Family Units with Parents with Disabilities, and More

On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed nine bills into law. On Thursday, April 26, 2018, he signed five bills into law. To date, he has signed 183 bills and sent one bill to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Wednesday and Thursday include a bill enacting the Colorado Uniform Trust Code, a bill enacting a civil rape shield statute, a bill amending family preservation safeguards for parents with disabilities, a bill requiring free-standing emergency rooms to post certain consumer notices, and more. The bills signed Wednesday and Thursday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-071 – “Concerning an Extension of the Repeal of the State Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Larry Crowder and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The state substance abuse trend and response task force is scheduled to be repealed effective July 1, 2018. The bill extends the repeal for 10 years to September 1, 2028.
  • SB 18-146 – “Concerning a Requirement that a Freestanding Emergency Department Inform a Person who is Seeking Medical Treatment about the Health Care Options that are Available to the Person, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. John Kefalas & Jim Smallwood and Reps. Lang Sias & Jonathan Singer. The bill requires a freestanding emergency department (FSED), whether operated by a hospital at a separate, off-campus location or operating independently of a hospital system, to provide any individual that enters the FSED seeking treatment a written statement of patient information, which an FSED staff member or health care provider must explain orally.
  • SB 18-154 – “Concerning a Requirement for a Local Juvenile Services Planning Committee to Devise a Plan to Manage Dually Identified Crossover Youth,” by Sen. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Joseph Salazar. The bill requires local juvenile services planning committees to devise a plan to manage dually identified crossover youth. A dually identified crossover youth is a youth involved in both the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system. The plan must contain descriptions and processes.
  • SB 18-169 – “Concerning Offenses Against Witnesses in Noncriminal Proceedings,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Terri Carver. The clarifies that the offenses of intimidating a witness or victim and retaliation against a witness or victim apply to witnesses in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings.
  • SB 18-180 – “Concerning the Colorado Uniform Trust Code,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Cole Wist & Matt Gray. The bill enacts the Colorado Uniform Trust Code and repeals many sections of the Colorado Probate Code.
  • SB 18-187 – “Concerning Transferring Marijuana Fibrous Waste for the Purpose of Producing Industrial Fiber Products,” by Sens. Vicki Marble & Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill gives the state licensing authority rule-making authority to address conditions under which a medical or retail marijuana licensee is authorized to transfer marijuana fibrous waste to a person for the purpose of producing only industrial fiber products.
  • HB 18-1104 – “Concerning Family Preservation Safeguards for Parents with Disabilities,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Kent Lambert. The bill establishes that family protection safeguards for a parent or prospective parent with a disability are critical to family preservation and the best interests of the children of Colorado. These safeguards include that a parent’s disability must not serve as a basis for denial or restriction of parenting time or parental responsibilities in a domestic law proceeding, that a parent’s disability must not serve as a basis for denial of participation in a public or private adoption, or for denial of foster care or guardianship, and that the benefits of providing supportive parenting services must be considered by a court when determining parental responsibilities, parenting time, adoption placements, foster care, and guardianship.
  • HB 18-1132 – “Concerning the Amount that the Department of Corrections is Required to Reimburse a County or City and County for the Confinement and Maintenance in a Local Jail of any Person who is Sentenced to a Term of Imprisonment in a Correctional Facility,” by Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Larry Crowder. Under current law, the General Assembly establishes in its annual general appropriations bill the amount that the Department of Corrections is required to reimburse any county or city and county for a portion of the expenses and costs incurred by that county or city and county for the confinement and maintenance in a local jail of any person who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a correctional facility. The bill states that, to assist the General Assembly in determining such rate of reimbursement, each county and each city and county shall report to the joint budget committee the average cost of confining and maintaining persons in a local jail for more than 72 hours after each such person has been sentenced to the custody of the department.
  • HB 18-1147 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of People who Modify the Weather, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Sunset Review Recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Kim Ransom and Sen. Don Coram. The bill continues the regulation of people who modify the weather.
  • HB 18-1211 – “Concerning Controlling Medicaid Fraud,” by Reps. Cole Wist & Mike Foote and Sens. Irene Aguilar & Jim Smallwood. The bill establishes the medicaid fraud control unit in the department of law. The unit is responsible for investigation and prosecution of medicaid fraud and waste, as well as patient abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Prior to initiating a criminal prosecution, the unit must consult with the district attorney of the judicial district where the prosecution would be initiated.
  • HB 18-1237 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Requirements Regarding the Preparation of a Cost-Benefit Analysis as Administered by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations Contained in the 2017 Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Tim Neville. The bill implements the recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ sunset review and report on requirements and procedures regarding the preparation of a cost-benefit analysis.
  • HB 18-1243 – “Concerning Enactment of a Civil Rape Shield Law,” by Reps. Mike Foote & Cole Wist and Sens. Don Coram & Rhonda Fields. Under Colorado criminal law there is a rape shield law that presumes that evidence of a victim’s sexual conduct is irrelevant and not admissible except for evidence of the victim’s prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the defendant or evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing the source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, or any similar evidence of sexual intercourse offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts were or were not committed by the defendant. The bill creates a similar presumption in a civil proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct. If a party wants to introduce sexual conduct evidence, it must file a confidential motion with the court at least 63 days prior to trial. Prior to ruling on the motion, the court shall conduct an in camera hearing and allow the parties and alleged victim to attend and be heard.
  • HB 18-1275 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Craig Hospital License Plate Donation Requirement,” by Rep. Jeff Bridges and Sen. Daniel Kagan. Current law requires an applicant to make a donation to Craig Hospital in order to be issued a special Craig Hospital license plate. The bill repeals the $20 donation requirement.
  • HB 18-1282 – “Concerning a Requirement that a Health Care Provider Include Certain Identifying Information on all Claims for Reimbursement for Health Care Services,” by Reps. Susan Lontine & Lang Sias and Sens. Jim Smallwood & John Kefalas. The bill requires an off-campus location of a hospital to apply for, obtain, and use on claims for reimbursement for health care services provided at the off-campus location a unique national provider identifier, commonly referred to as NPI. The off-campus location’s NPI must be used on all claims related to health care services provided at that location, regardless of whether the claim is filed through the hospital’s central billing or claims department or through a health care clearinghouse. It also requires all medicaid providers that are entities to obtain and use a unique NPI for each site at which they deliver services and for each provider type that the department of health care policy and financing has specified.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Judge Committed Reversable Error by Not Recusing Where Judge Was Previously GAL in Different Case Involving Mother

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of C.Y. and J.O. on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Recusal—Disqualification.

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, during the termination hearing, the judge realized she had served as a guardian ad litem (GAL) on a different case involving mother’s oldest child. The judge declined to recuse herself from the case over mother’s objection and terminated mother’s parental rights.

On appeal, mother contended that the judge erred by not recusing herself from the termination hearing based on her having served as the GAL of mother’s older child in 2005. The Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Here, both the GAL and the Department of Human Services discussed the 2005 case and urged the court to rely on it when ruling on the termination motion, which the court did. Under these circumstances, the judge created the appearance of impropriety by presiding over the case and abused her discretion by not recusing herself.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for a new termination hearing before a different judicial officer.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Erred by Terminating Parental Rights Without Establishing Treatment Plan

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of B.C. on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Required Findings—Termination of Parental Rights—Appropriate Treatment Plan.

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, mother admitted that the child’s environment was injurious to his welfare and stipulated to an adjudication. She also stipulated to a preliminary treatment plan, but no dispositional hearing was held. Based on the stipulation, the trial court entered an order adjudicating the child dependent and neglected. The court further ordered the Pueblo County Department of Social Services to submit a formal treatment plan within 20 days that would be adopted and made an order of the court if no objections were filed. There was no finding that the plan was “appropriate.” Mother did not object to the submitted treatment plan.

The Department later moved to terminate mother’s parental rights. Mother objected and asserted she was in compliance with the treatment plan. Approximately a year after the petition was filed, following a contested hearing, the court entered judgment terminating mother’s parental rights. The court found that mother had not complied with the treatment plan.

On appeal, mother contended that the trial court erred by not conducting a dispositional hearing or adopting a formal treatment plan that was found to be appropriate. C.R.S. § 19-3-508(1) requires the court to “approve an appropriate treatment plan,” and C.R.S. § 19-3-604(1)(c)(I) requires a finding that “an appropriate treatment plan approved by the court has not been reasonably complied with” before parental rights are terminated. Here, there was no dispositional hearing, and the trial court did not approve an appropriate treatment plan nor make a finding that the proposed plan was appropriate.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Modernizing Statutory Language, Requiring Rent Receipts from Landlords, and More Signed

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the governor signed 25 bills into law. He also sent one  bill to the Secretary of State without a signature on Friday. To date, he has signed 81 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Thursday include several bills modernizing and clarifying statutory language, as well as a bill requiring residential landlords to issue rent receipts, a bill adding two types of protection orders, and more. The bills signed Thursday and passed on Friday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-005 – “Concerning Economic Assistance for Rural Communities Experiencing Certain Significant Economic Events that Lead to Substantial Job Loss in those Communities, and, in Connection Therewith, Authorizing the Department of Local Affairs to Coordinate Nonmonetary Assistance to Assist Rural Communities with Job Creation or Retention,” by Sens. Kerry Donovan & Ray Scott and Rep. Dylan Roberts. The bill authorizes the Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs (Executive Director) or the Executive Director’s designee to coordinate the provision of nonmonetary resources to assist with job retention or creation in a rural community experiencing a significant economic event, such as a plant closure or layoffs, including industry-wide layoffs, that has a significant, quantifiable impact on jobs within that community.
  • SB 18-009 – “Concerning the Right of Consumers of Electricity to Interconnect Energy Storage Systems for Use on their Property,” by Sens. Kevin Priola & Stephen Fenberg and Reps. Faith Winter & Polly Lawrence. The bill declares that consumers of electricity have a right to install, interconnect, and use energy storage systems on their property, and that this will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, save money, and reduce the need for additional electric generation facilities.
  • SB 18-010 – “Concerning the Requirement that a Residential Landlord Provide a Tenant with Specified Documents Relevant to the Landlord-Tenant Relationship, and, in Connection Therewith, Specifying Rent Receipts and Copies of any Written Lease Agreement as Documents that Must be Provided,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Angela Williams and Rep. Tony Exum. The bill requires a residential landlord to provide each tenant with a copy of a written rental agreement signed by the parties and to give a tenant a contemporaneous receipt for any payment made in person with cash or a money order. For payments not made in person with cash or a money order, the landlord must provide a receipt if the tenant requests it.
  • SB 18-020 – “Concerning Mental Health Care Professionals who are Permitted to Perform Auricular Acudetox,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill allows registered psychotherapists who have documented that they have undergone auricular acudetox training to perform auricular acudetox.
  • SB 18-046 – “Concerning Authorization to Increase the Minimum Donation Required to be Issued a Certificate that Qualifies a Person to be Issued a Group Special License Plate,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Faith Winter. The bill authorizes nonprofit organizations to increase by $10 the minimum donation for the issuance of special license plates.
  • SB 18-060 – “Concerning Protective Orders in Criminal Cases,” by Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill adds 2 new potential protection orders to the list of options available to the court. They are an order prohibiting the taking, transferring, concealing, harming, disposing of, or threatening to harm an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the alleged victim or witness; and an order directing a wireless telephone service provider to transfer the financial responsibility for and rights to a wireless telephone number or numbers to the alleged victim or witness if the alleged victim or witness satisfies certain criteria.
  • SB 18-069 – “Concerning Enforcement of Statewide Degree Transfer Agreements,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Rachel Zenzinger and Reps. Alec Garnett & Jon Becker. If an institution of higher education admits as a junior a transfer student who holds an associate of arts degree, associate of applied science degree, or an associate of science degree that is the subject of a statewide degree transfer agreement, the institution shall not require the student to complete any additional courses to fulfill general education requirements.
  • SB 18-093 – “Concerning the Repeal of Obsolete Provisions in the Colorado Medical Assistance Program Relating to the Inactive Home- and Community-Based Services Waiver for Persons Living with AIDS,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill repeals the inactive home- and community-based services waiver under the Colorado medical assistance program for persons with health complexes related to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (persons living with AIDS waiver).
  • SB 18-101 – “Concerning Student Admission to Colorado State University – Global Campus,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Nancy Todd and Reps. Millie Hamner & Kevin Van Winkle. The bill removes a prohibition on admitting first-time freshman baccalaureate students who reside in Colorado and who are under 23 years of age.
  • HB 18-1005 – “Concerning Notice of Postsecondary Course Enrollment Options Available to High School Students,” by Reps. Brittany Petterson & Jon Becker and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill requires a notice to students and parents of postsecondary course opportunities to include information regarding the local education provider’s timelines that affect student eligibility to take these courses and a statement informing students that they may significantly reduce college expenses, increase the likelihood of completing college, and earn marketable workforce skills by taking concurrent enrollment courses.
  • HB 18-1023 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Legalized Marijuana from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill creates Title 44 and relocates the statutes related to legalized marijuana from Title 12 to Title 44.
  • HB 18-1032 – “Concerning Access to Medical Records from the Department of Public Health and Environment’s EMS Agency Patient Care Database by Health Information Organization Networks,” by Reps. Chris Kennedy & Dan Thurlow and Sens. Rhonda Fields & Jack Tate. The bill requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to provide individualized patient information from the department’s EMS agency patient care database to health information organization networks for any use allowed under the federal “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.”
  • HB 18-1045 – “Concerning the Application of Silver Diamine Fluoride to Dental Patients,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill allows a dental hygienist to apply silver diamine fluoride under the direct or indirect supervision of a dentist.
  • HB 18-1050 – “Concerning Competency to Proceed for Juveniles Involved in the Juvenile Justice System,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Rhonda Fields. The bill establishes a juvenile-specific definition of ‘competent to proceed’ and ‘incompetent to proceed’ for juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system, as well as specific definitions for ‘developmental disability’, ‘mental capacity’, and ‘mental disability’ when used in this context. The bill clarifies the procedures for establishing incompetency, as well as for establishing the restoration of competency.
  • HB 18-1051 – “Concerning Statutory Provisions Enacted to Promote the Extinguishment of Unattended Fires,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Terri Carver and Sens. Don Coram & Michael Merrifield. The bill states that any person who starts or maintains a campfire commits the offense of leaving a campfire unattended if he or she knowingly or recklessly fails to reasonably attend the campfire at all times or fails to thoroughly extinguish the campfire before leaving the site.
  • HB 18-1052 – “Concerning Local Education Providers’ Receipt of Concurrent Enrollment Courses from a Two-year Institution of Higher Education Outside of the Institution’s Approved Service Area when the Institution Approved to Serve the Local Education Provider Declines to Provide Concurrent Enrollment Courses,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Jeff Bridges and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill requires the commission to establish a policy that allows a 2-year institution of higher education to provide a concurrent enrollment program or course to a local education provider that is not within its college service area if the designated 2-year institution of higher education chooses not to provide a concurrent enrollment program or course requested by the local education provider.
  • HB 18-1066 – “Concerning Clarifying that the Law Enforcement and Defense Counsel Exemption for Sexual Exploitation of a Child Crime Does Not Change the Discovery Procedures for Sexually Exploitative Material,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Mike Foote and Sen. John Cooke. The bill clarifies that the sexual exploitation of a child statute does not change the discovery procedure for sexually exploitative materials and that the defendant and defense counsel personnel are not allowed to receive copies of the materials.
  • HB 18-1073 – “Concerning Water Districts’ Ability to Enter into Contracts Regarding their Water-related Assets,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill authorizes water districts, including water activity enterprises, to enter into contracts for water and the capacity in works and allows the contracts to be based on municipalities’ authority to contract for water and sewer facilities.
  • HB 18-1095 – “Concerning Educator Licenses Issued to Military Spouses,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Jeni James Arndt and Sens. Bob Gardner & Nancy Todd. The bill exempts military spouses from a requirement that teaching or special services experience be continuous, and instead requires 3 years of experience within the previous 7 years.
  • HB 18-1117 – “Concerning Liens that Attach to Personal Property that is Stored at a Self-service Storage Facility,” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & James Coleman and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill modifies the law governing the statutory lien that an owner of a self-storage facility has for the occupant’s late payment of rent or other charges.
  • HB 18-1141 – “Concerning the Removal of Outdated References in Statute to ‘Early Childhood Care and Education Councils,'” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. The bill removes outdated references in statute to “early childhood care and education councils.” The term is no longer used. Instead, these entities are referred to as “early childhood councils.”
  • HB 18-1142 – “Concerning Modernizing Language in Statutory Sections that Refer to Paupers,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Thurlow and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill modernizes the language in statutory sections by replacing the terms ‘pauper’ and ‘paupers’ with ‘indigent’ or ‘indigent persons’.
  • HB 18-1183 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Home Food Service Plans Pursuant to the “Sale of Meat Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Sunset Review Recommendation to Repeal the Act,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Kim Ransom and Sen. Randy Baumgartner. The bill implements the recommendation of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, as contained in the Department’s sunset review of home food service plans, by repealing the ‘Sale of Meat Act’, thereby eliminating the regulation of home food service plans by the department of agriculture.
  • HB 18-1210 – “Concerning Peace Officer Status for the Administrator of Judicial Security in the Colorado Judicial Department,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. John Cooke. The bill designates an administrator of judicial security in the Colorado judicial department as a peace officer who must be certified by the peace officer standards and training board.
  • HB 18-1249 – “Concerning the Requirement that the State Treasurer Distribute any Federal Funds Related to the Naval Oil Shale Reserve Land to Specified Counties or their Federal Mineral Lease Districts,” by Reps. Bob Rankin & Millie Hamner and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. If the state receives any federal mineral lease revenue from oil and gas production on naval oil shale reserve land that was set aside prior to January 1, 2009, and withheld by the federal government, then instead of depositing the money in the mineral leasing fund the state treasurer is required to distribute the money to certain counties or a related federal mineral lease district.

The bill that the governor sent to the Secretary of State without a signature was HB 18-1086, “Concerning Allowing Community Colleges to Offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing,” by Reps. Janet Buckner & Paul Lundeen and Sens. Tim Neville & Irene Aguilar.

For a complete list of the governor’s 2018 legislative actions, click here.

Bills Signed Regarding Continuation of Family Medical Benefits After Death of State Worker, Creating a Crime of Cruelty to Police Horse, and More

On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, the governor signed 10 bills into law. To date, he has signed 40 bills this legislative session. The bills signed Wednesday included a bill to continue family medical benefits after the death of a state employee, a bill adding free-standing emergency rooms to Colorado’s safe haven laws, a bill creating the crime of cruelty to a working police horse, a bill removing the 30-day waiting period for importation of alcoholic beverages, and more. The bills signed Wednesday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1010 – “Concerning Youth Committed to the Department of Human Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring the Department to Report Certain Data and Adding Members to the Youth Restraint and Seclusion Working Group,” by Reps. Pete Lee & James Wilson and Sen. Don Coram. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to annually collect recidivism data and calculate the recidivism rates and educational outcomes for juveniles committed to the custody of the department who complete their parole sentences and discharge from department supervision.
  • HB 18-1024 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to the Regulation of Racing from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, to a New Title 44 as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill creates Title 44 and moves statutes related to the regulation of racing from title 12 to the new title.
  • HB 18-1026 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Law Creating the Liquor Enforcement Division and State Licensing Authority Cash Fund from Title 24, Colorado Revised Statutes, to a New Title 44 as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sens. John Cooke & Bob Gardner. The bill creates Title 44 and moves statutes creating the liquor enforcement division and state licensing authority cash fund from title 24 to the new title.
  • HB 18-1041– “Concerning Adding Certified Police Working Horses to the Crime of Cruelty to a Service Animal or a Certified Police Working Dog,” by Rep. Marc Catlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill adds a definition for “certified police working horse” to statute and adds certified police working horses to the crime of cruelty to a service animal or a certified police working dog.
  • HB 18-1048 – “Concerning the Expenditure of Money from the Hesperus Account by the Board of Trustees of Fort Lewis College,” by Rep. Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill eliminates the requirement that spending from the Fort Lewis College Hesperus account is subject to an appropriation by the general assembly.
  • HB 18-1105 – “Concerning the Unlicensed Sale of Vehicles,” by Reps. Larry Liston & Jovan Melton and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill clarifies that money received as fines for certain violations may be deposited in the auto dealers license fund.
  • SB 18-025 – “Concerning Modernization of Election Procedures for the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District to Conform with the Current Requirements of State Law,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. James Coleman. The bill makes several changes to statutory provisions related to flood control district elections.
  • SB 18-050 – “Concerning Including Staff of Free-standing Emergency Facilities as Part of Colorado’s Safe Haven Laws,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Reps. James Coleman & Marc Catlin. The bill expands Colorado’s safe haven laws to include staff members of community clinic emergency centers as persons allowed to take temporary physical custody of infants 72 hours old or younger when the infant is voluntarily surrendered by its parent or parents.
  • SB 18-124 – “Concerning the Removal of the Thirty-day Waiting Period Related to the Sale of Imported Alcohol Beverages,” by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Dan Pabon. Current law requires a manufacturer or importer of imported alcohol beverages to file a statement and notice of intent to import with the state licensing authority at least 30 days before the import or sale of the imported alcohol beverages. The bill removes the 30-day waiting period requirement.
  • SB 18-148 – “Concerning the Continuation of Certain Benefits Through the ‘State Employee Group Benefits Act’ for Dependents of a State Employee who Dies in a Work-related Death,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Polly Lawrence & Tony Exum. The bill specifies that dependents of an employee who dies in a work-related death are automatically qualified for the continuation of dental or medical benefits through the act for 12 months from the end of the month in which the work-related death occurred, so long as the dependents had dental or medical benefits pursuant to the act at the time of the employee’s work-related death.

For all of the governor’s 2018 legislative actions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: ICWA Notice Should be Sent to All Tribes in Ancestral Group if Only Ancestral Group Indicated

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of L.H. on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Indian Child Welfare Act—Notice Requirement.

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, mother initially denied Native American heritage but then informed the Jefferson County Department of Human Services (Department) that her biological brother is registered with “Navajo-Deni.” The Department sent six separate notices to the Navajo Nation at six different addresses. The Navajo Nation responded that there was no record of the family with the Navajo Nation, and therefore the child was not enrolled or eligible for enrollment with the Navajo Nation. Based on this response, at the termination hearing the trial court found that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply in this case.

Mother appealed the judgment terminating the parent–child legal relationship with her child. Based on its review of the record, the Court of Appeals could not determine whether the Department complied with the ICWA. A review of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) list of Tribal Agents by Affiliation shows that the Colorado River Indian Tribes are also tribes historically affiliated with the Navajo. The Court concluded that because mother had made a general reference to Navajo, and not just the Navajo Nation, the Department was required to also notify the Colorado River Indian Tribes. The notice to only the Navajo Nation was insufficient to satisfy the ICWA’s notice requirement.

The case was remanded with instructions for the limited purpose of directing the Department to send appropriate notice to the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Indeterminate Sentence for Juvenile Illegal Pursuant to Children’s Code

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of J.C. on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Juvenile—Delinquency—Indeterminate Sentence—Mandatory Sentence Offender—Repeat Juvenile Offender—Multiple Adjudications—Illegal Sentence.

J.C., a juvenile, pleaded guilty to charges in three separate cases, pursuant to a global plea agreement, on the same day during a hearing addressing all three cases. She pleaded guilty first to a third-degree assault charge, then to a second-degree criminal trespass charge, and finally to a second-degree assault charge. The court accepted the pleas and adjudicated J.C. delinquent in all three cases. The juvenile court sentenced J.C. to an indeterminate one-to-two-year term of commitment in the custody of the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), with a mandatory minimum term of one year.

J.C. filed a motion to correct illegal sentence, arguing that the court lacked authority to sentence her to a mandatory minimum period of confinement as a mandatory sentence offender because the three adjudications required for the relevant statute to apply had all occurred at the same hearing. The court denied the motion. J.C. then filed for postconviction relief, alleging that she received ineffective assistance of plea counsel and that she hadn’t knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally pleaded guilty. In denying the motion, as relevant here, the court ruled that because it was not shown that the court relied on the “mandatory sentence offender” classification, J.C. did not show prejudice.

On appeal, J.C. argued that the juvenile court erred by summarily denying her petition for postconviction relief because she had alleged that neither her lawyer nor the court had advised her that she would be sentenced as a repeat juvenile offender. She alleged that she was prejudiced by counsel’s deficient performance and the court’s failure to advise her because she wouldn’t have pleaded guilty if she’d known she would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of confinement. The court of appeals reviewed the entire juvenile sentencing scheme and concluded that a court may not sentence a juvenile to DYC for an indeterminate term. Because the court sentenced J.C. to one to two years in DYC, her sentence is indeterminate and therefore illegal.

Because the issue will likely arise on remand, the court also addressed whether the juvenile court may sentence J.C. to a mandatory minimum period of commitment. A mandatory minimum sentence to DYC commitment is authorized only if the juvenile qualifies as a special offender under C.R.S. § 19-2-908. Two categories of special offenders are relevant here: mandatory sentence offenders and repeat juvenile offenders. However, a juvenile doesn’t qualify as a mandatory sentence offender under C.R.S. § 19-2-516(1) or a repeat juvenile offender under C.R.S. § 19-2-516(2), when, as in this case, the multiple adjudications required by those provisions occurred in the same hearing. Therefore, the juvenile court couldn’t have legally sentenced J.C. to a mandatory minimum term of commitment as a mandatory sentence offender or repeat juvenile offender and cannot do so on remand.

The sentence was vacated and the case was remanded with directions to resentence J.C.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Income Eligibility Guidelines Updated; Several CJDs Affected

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released revisions to the Income Eligibility Guidelines. Several Chief Justice Directives were affected by these revisions:

  • CJD 98-01 – “Costs for Indigent Persons in Civil Matters”
  • CJD 04-04 – “Appointment of State-Funded Counsel in Criminal Cases and for Contempt of Court”
  • CJD 04-05 – “Appointment and Payment Procedures for Court-appointed Counsel, Guardians ad litem, Child and Family Investigators, and Court Visitors paid by the Judicial Department in proceedings under Titles 12, 13, 14, 15, 19 (special respondents in dependency and neglect only), 22, 25.5, and 27, C.R.S.”
  • CJD 04-06 – “Court Appointments Through the Office of the Child’s Representative”
  • CJD 14-01 – “Appointment of State-Funded Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Cases”
  • CJD 16-02 – “Court Appointments Through the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel”

All of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Directives can be accessed here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Foster Parents Lacked Standing to Challenge District Court Denial of Parental Rights Termination

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People in Interest of C.W.B., Jr. on Monday, February 5, 2018.

Children’s Code—Dependency or Neglect Proceedings—Standing on Appeal.

The Colorado Supreme Court reviewed whether the foster parents in this case had standing to appeal the trial court’s denial of a motion to terminate the parent–child legal relationship. The foster parents intervened in the trial court proceedings pursuant to C.R.S. § 19-3-507(5)(a) and participated in a hearing on the guardian ad litem’s (GAL) motion to terminate the parent-child legal relationship between the mother and the child. The trial court denied the motion. Neither the state nor the GAL appealed the trial court’s ruling, but the foster parents did. The court of appeals concluded that the foster parents had standing to appeal the trial court’s ruling.

The supreme court concluded that the foster parents in this case did not have a legally protected interest in the outcome of termination proceedings, and that C.R.S. § 19-3-507(5)(a) did not automatically confer standing on them to appeal the juvenile court’s order denying the termination motion, where neither the Department of Social Services nor the GAL sought review of the trial court’s ruling. Because the GAL was statutorily obligated to advocate for the best interests of the child, including on appeal, there was no need to confer standing on the foster parents to represent the best interests of the child on appeal. The court therefore reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the appeal.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Written Advisement Form Does Not Satisfy ICWA Notice Requirements

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of J.L. on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Indian Child Welfare Act—Tribal Notification Requirements.

In this dependency and neglect proceeding, the trial court first inquired about the applicability of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) at the termination hearing after orally ordering termination of parental rights. When the inquiry was made, mother responded that both she and the father had Native American blood and she and her family had been “kicked off the tribe.” At a subsequent hearing, mother indicated she had Indian heritage through her biological family and named several tribes. She stated she was an adoptee, but her biological mother would know of her tribal affiliation. The Alamosa County Department of Human Services (Department) stated it did not believe the ICWA applied, but failed to describe the efforts it had made to determine whether any of the children was an Indian child, and the record contained no evidence that the Department sent notice to the tribes named. Mother appealed the judgment terminating her parent–child legal relationship with her children.

C.R.S. § 19-1-126(1)(a) requires the petitioning party to make continuing inquiries to determine whether the child subject to the proceeding is an Indian child. The petitioning party must also disclose in the commencing pleading whether the child is an Indian child and the identity of the child’s tribe, or what efforts the petitioner made to determine whether the child is an Indian child. The Bureau of Indian Affairs regulations and guidelines also contain notice and inquiry provisions for trial courts and require trial courts to ask participants in emergency or voluntary or involuntary child-custody proceedings whether they know or have reason to know that the child is an Indian child. This inquiry is made at the commencement of the proceeding, and all responses should be on the record. Departments must directly notify each concerned tribe by registered mail with return receipt of the pending proceedings and its right to intervene.

Here, the trial court’s inquiry should have been made at the first hearing after the petition in dependency and neglect was filed and again at the start of the termination proceeding. Mother’s disclosures gave the trial court reason to believe the children were Indian children. The Department did not comply with the ICWA’s notice requirements.

The Department contended that mother’s signing of a written advisement of her rights, which included a question about the ICWA, served as the court’s initial inquiry. The inquiry should be made on the record. Regardless, the Court of Appeals found that the Department failed to send notice to the appropriate tribes when mother identified a reason to believe the children were Indian children.

The case was remanded with instructions for the limited purpose of directing the Department to send appropriate notice to the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma and the Pueblo of Taos.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Order Dismissing Dependency and Neglect Proceeding Not Final, Appealable Order

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of M.R.M. on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

Dependency and Neglect—Final and Appealable Order—Lack of Jurisdiction.

The Garfield County Department of Human Services (Department) filed a petition in dependency and neglect, naming mother and M.M. (father of two children and stepfather to the third, M.A.M.) as respondents. The children were initially placed with their maternal grandmother, but then M.M. moved from Florida to Colorado and sought custody of all three children. The children were placed with him under the protective supervision of the Department. The court adjudicated the three children dependent and neglected with respect to mother. The court adopted treatment plans for mother and M.M., but shortly thereafter he moved to modify the order under which he shared custody of the children with mother and to dismiss the dependency and neglect case. M.M. shared custody of the two older children with mother under a domestic relations order and asserted he should have custody of M.A.M. as her psychological parent. The juvenile court entered an order allocating parental responsibilities for the children between M.M. and mother (the APR order). The court concluded it had jurisdiction to allocate parental responsibilities as to M.A.M. pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-123(1)(d), which provides that a proceeding concerning allocation of parental responsibilities may be commenced by someone other than a parent who has been allocated parental responsibilities through a juvenile court order. Approximately two weeks later, the court entered an order terminating its jurisdiction and closing the case, from which order mother appealed.

The Colorado Court of Appeals requested supplemental briefs addressing whether mother’s appeal was timely and determined that the appealable order was the APR order. C.R.S. § 19-1-104(6) provides that entry of an order allocating parental responsibilities for a child who is the subject of a dependency and neglect proceeding requested by a party to the case, once filed in the county where the child will permanently reside, will be treated as any other decree in a proceeding allocating parental responsibilities. This action ends the dependency and neglect proceeding and transfers jurisdiction over the child to the district court. Such an order is final and appealable, and a party who wishes to appeal must file a notice of appeal within 21 days of entry of the order. Here, the juvenile court entered an APR order and ordered that it be certified into an existing custody proceeding in the district court as to M.M.’s children, and certified into a new domestic relations case as to M.A.M. Mother did not appeal from that order but rather appealed from the order purportedly terminating its jurisdiction and closing the dependency and neglect case. Mother’s appeal was untimely, and the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it.

However, mother argued the APR order wasn’t a final, appealable order because the juvenile court didn’t have jurisdiction to make the findings needed to grant APR to a nonparent. She contended that because the court did not adjudicate M.A.M. dependent and neglected with respect to her biological father, and the adjudication of the two older children with respect to father M.M. was still in “deferred” status, the APR order was invalid. The court rejected this argument, reasoning that the question was not whether the court had jurisdiction to enter the order, but whether it was final and appealable. The APR order here was final and appealable

Similarly, because mother failed to timely appeal the APR order, the court rejected mother’s argument that because the court failed to commence a paternity action it did not have independent jurisdiction under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) to enter an order allocating parental responsibilities.

Finally, mother argued the APR order was not a final, appealable order because it did not fully resolve the right and liabilities of the parties as to paternity, support, and parental responsibilities with respect to M.A.M. Analyzing the issue under the UPA, the court concluded there was no need for a paternity proceeding as to M.A.M. The court rejected mother’s argument that the APR order did not fully resolve the rights and liabilities of the parties because it didn’t find anything else that needed to be resolved; the order addressed visitation, parenting time, and other matters relevant to the allocation or parental responsibilities between mother and M.M.

Mother also argued that the APR order was not final because it was subject to revision. Once it was entered and certified to the district court, jurisdiction to modify it was transferred to the district court, leaving nothing for the juvenile court to do. The court further noted that all orders concerning parenting time and decision-making responsibility may be modified when circumstances warrant a change.

Mother also raised an issue about noncompliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The court declined to address this because it lacked jurisdiction due to the untimeliness of the appeal.

The appeal was dismissed with prejudice for lack of an appealable order.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Parent’s Counsel Not Necessarily Entitled to be Present at In Camera Interview of Children

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of S.L. on Thursday, December 28, 2017.

Dependency and Neglect—Due Process—In Camera Review—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Disclosures—Expert Witness.

The Rio Blanco County Department of Human Services (Department) became involved with the parents in this case as a result of concerns about the children’s welfare due to the condition of the family home, the parents’ use of methamphetamine, and criminal cases involving the parents. Attempts at voluntary services failed, and on the Department’s petition for dependency and neglect, the district court ultimately terminated the parents’ rights.

On appeal, the parents contended that the Department failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify them with their children. Specifically, the parents contended that the Department did not give them sufficient time to complete the services under their treatment plans and failed to accommodate their drug testing needs. The termination hearing was not held until more than a year after the motion to terminate was filed. For nine months before the motion to terminate was filed, the Department provided numerous services to the parents, including substance abuse therapy, therapeutic visitation supervision, drug abuse monitoring, and a parental capacity evaluation. The Department also provided counseling for the children. Both parents missed drug tests and tested positive during the testing period, and both were arrested for possession of methamphetamine during the pendency of the case. The Department made reasonable accommodations to meet the parents’ needs and the parents had sufficient time to comply with their treatment plans. The record supports the trial court’s findings that termination was appropriate because (1) the court-approved appropriate treatment plan had not been complied with by the parents or had not been successful in rehabilitating them; (2) the parents were unfit; and (3) the conduct or condition of the parents was unlikely to change within a reasonable time.

Father also contended that the trial court’s decision to interview the 9-year-old twin children together in chambers fundamentally and seriously affected the basic fairness and integrity of the proceedings and violated his due process rights. Father also argued that answers the judge gave to the children’s questions during the interview were improper. More than five months before the termination hearing, the court interviewed the children in chambers. The interview was recorded and transcribed, and a copy of the transcript was provided to the parties before the termination hearing. Whether counsel may be present during an in camera interview of a child in a dependency and neglect proceeding is determined on a case-by-case basis and is within the trial court’s discretion. In making this determination, the trial court should consider, among other things, the child’s age and maturity, the nature of the information to be obtained from the child, the relationship between the parents, the child’s relationship with the parents, any potential harm to the child, and ultimately any impact on the court’s ability to obtain information from the child. In addition, in the interests of fairness and to allow for the record to be fully developed, the trial court should allow the parents or trial counsel to submit questions to the child, which the court may ask in its discretion. Further, the interview, regardless of whether counsel is present, must be on the record, and a transcript of the interview must be made available to the parties before a termination hearing. Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in the interview procedures that it followed nor in the weight it accorded to the information solicited.

Father next contended that he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Although his trial counsel failed to meet discovery and disclosure deadlines for an expert witness, the record fails to demonstrate the necessary prejudice to establish a claim based on ineffective assistance.

Father further contended that the trial court abused its discretion and violated his due process rights in allowing five of the Department’s witnesses to testify as experts despite the Department failing to comply with C.R.C.P. 26(a). Despite inadequacies in the C.R.C.P. 26 disclosures, the bases for the experts’ testimony at the hearing had been disclosed to father. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that father was not prejudiced by the inadequate C.R.C.P. 26(a) disclosures.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.