Justia Colorado Supreme Court Opinion Summaries
Jagged Peak Energy v. Oklahoma Police Pension
The question this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court's review centered on whether the court of appeals misapplied federal case law when it concluded that respondent Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System (“Oklahoma”) stated a plausible claim for relief under sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 77k, 77l(a)(2), 77o, notwithstanding petitioners’ assertions that the alleged misrepresentations at issue constituted immaterial “puffery” and amounted to claims based on hindsight, which were not actionable under federal law. Jagged Peak Energy Inc. (“Jagged”) was a Denver-based company that specializes in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas. In January 2017, Jagged conducted an initial public offering (“IPO”), during which it sold over 31 million shares at a price to the public of $15.00 per share. Oklahoma, a governmental pension system that provides pension and disability benefits for municipal police officers in the state of Oklahoma, purchased Jagged shares “pursuant to and/or traceable to the [IPO].” According to Oklahoma, within a short time after its investment, facts came to light indicating that Jagged, the individual defendants, and the underwriter defendants (collectively, “defendants”) had negligently overstated Jagged’s ability to increase its oil and gas production. As a result, the price of Jagged shares saw several notable declines, and except for a brief surge, Jagged’s stock has traded well below its IPO price. Oklahoma filed a class action lawsuit in Denver District Court, alleging that defendants had made materially untrue statements and omissions in their offering documents. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded the appellate court's conclusion was consistent with applicable federal precedent, and therefore affirmed that court's judgment. View "Jagged Peak Energy v. Oklahoma Police Pension" on Justia Law
Colorado v. Solis
In an interlocutory appeal, the State challenged a trial court order that granted defendant Jorge Solis’ motion to disqualify the entire Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office because his public defender, began working for the DA’s office prosecuting his case. The issue presented here was whether, as Solis argued before the trial court, his attorney’s former representation of Solis constituted “special circumstances” under section20-1-107(2), C.R.S. (2022), requiring not just the attorney’s disqualification, but also disqualification of the entire DA’s Office. Following a half-day hearing, the trial court found that the DA’s Office had a screening policy in place and that it had taken additional precautions to wall the attorney off from Solis’s prosecution. The court thus concluded Solis had failed to establish that special circumstances existed such that “it [was] unlikely that [he] would receive a fair trial.” The Colorado Supreme Court concluded the trial court abused its discretion in granting Solis’s motion. The trial court’s determination that the attorney could potentially deviate from the screening policy in the future was based on his appearance in Mr. Flores-Molina’s case; it was not a determination that the attorney would violate the screening policy in this case or that confidential information from the attorney’s prior representation had not been or could not continue to be adequately screened from the attorneys prosecuting Solis’s case. Because there was no evidence in the record that Solis is unlikely to receive a fair trial, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s order disqualifying the entire DA’s Office. View "Colorado v. Solis" on Justia Law
Colorado Judicial Dept. 18th Judicial District
Abbey Dickerson appealed to the Judicial Department Personnel Board of Review (“Board”) after she was terminated by the Eighteenth Judicial District (“District”). As required by the Personnel Rules, the Board appointed an attorney (who happened to be a retired court of appeals judge) to serve as the hearing officer on her case. Following an evidentiary hearing, the hearing officer changed the disciplinary action to a ninety-day suspension without pay. The District then appealed to the Board, but the Board affirmed the hearing officer’s decision. Because the District remained concerned about Dickerson’s suitability to return to her position, however, it sought review of the Board’s final order by filing a C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4) claim in Denver district court. The question presented by this case for the Colorado Supreme Court asked whether the Board was either a “governmental body” or a “lower judicial body” within the meaning of C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4), such that its decision to affirm, modify, or reverse a disciplinary action could be challenged in district court. The Supreme Court held that the Personnel Rules precluded district court review of a final order by the Board. View "Colorado Judicial Dept. 18th Judicial District" on Justia Law
R.W. & H.W. v. People in interest of E.W.
E.W. (the Child) was adjudicated dependent and neglected. Both parents were referred to services to treat substance abuse and were put on a family services plan. Both struggled to engage with their treatment plans. Father requested the Department of Human Services explore a kin-like placement in Montana where he was originally from and where he had family and friends who might be willing to care for the Child. The trial court approved the placement, and ordered that the Department retain custody of E.W. The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review centered on the interaction among three different but related statutory schemes. Specifically, the Court considered what should happen when: (1) a Colorado court obtains initial jurisdiction over a child under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”); (2) that court adjudicates the child neglected or dependent pursuant to the Colorado Children’s Code; (3) the child is then placed in an out-of-state placement through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (“ICPC”); (4) the parents subsequently move out of state; and (5) no other state court has asserted jurisdiction over the child. Does the Colorado court lose jurisdiction simply because the child and the parents have separately left Colorado? Reading these statutory provisions together, the Supreme Court concluded that it does not. Instead, in the circumstances presented here, the Colorado court retains jurisdiction over the child. View "R.W. & H.W. v. People in interest of E.W." on Justia Law
Posted in: Family Law
Colorado v. Turner
Terrel Turner and Christopher Cruse were jointly tried and convicted on charges related to the burglary of a marijuana dispensary. On the second day of trial, Yolanda Cruse, who is Cruse’s wife and Turner’s friend, was arrested and charged with several counts stemming from a hostile encounter she had with the victim advocate and a prosecution witness just outside the courtroom. The trial judge ordered that Mrs. Cruse be excluded from the courtroom for the remainder of trial. The Colorado Supreme Court determined the trial court’s exclusion of Mrs. Cruse from the majority of the trial based on her alleged harassment of the victim advocate and a prosecution witness constituted a non-trivial, partial closure. Although the trial court failed to expressly apply the Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39 (1984) test, its findings and the record supported the conclusion that the closure order was justified under Waller and didn’t, therefore, violate defendants’ Sixth Amendment public trial right. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirms that portion of the court of appeals’ judgments concluding that the exclusion constituted a non-trivial, partial closure, and reversed the portion of the judgments reversing the convictions and remanding for a new trial. View "Colorado v. Turner" on Justia Law
People v. A.C.
The State of Colorado filed a petition in delinquency against A.C. A.C.’s counsel moved for a competency evaluation, noting that A.C. had trouble paying attention and was on an individualized education plan at school due to his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”). The magistrate granted the motion and ordered the Colorado Department of Human Services (“CDHS”) to perform a competency evaluation. Based on his evaluation, a doctor concluded that A.C. did not have the ability to (1) factually and rationally understand the proceedings or (2) assist in the defense. Ultimately, the doctor concluded A.C. was incompetent to proceed but that the “prognosis for restoring [A.C.] to competency . . . [was] fair to good.” The magistrate found A.C. incompetent to proceed, stayed the proceedings, and ordered CDHS to provide restoration services. Almost six months later, the magistrate held a hearing to determine whether A.C. had been restored to competency. The evaluating doctor and A.C.’s restoration services provider testified at the hearing, but neither opined as to whether A.C. had been “restored to competency.” The Colorado Supreme Court granted review in this case to consider whether the Juvenile Justice Code authorized a magistrate to order a juvenile found incompetent to proceed to undergo a “reassessment evaluation” as part of the restoration review or restoration hearing procedures outlined in sections 19-2.5-704 to -706, C.R.S. (2022), to determine whether the juvenile has been restored to competency. A.C. argued that such an evaluation was prohibited by Colorado in Interest of B.B.A.M., 453 P.3d 1161. The Supreme Court concluded that the juvenile court had the authority to order a reassessment evaluation after determining that a juvenile remains incompetent and that this type of evaluation was distinct from the second competency evaluation at issue in B.B.A.M. View " People v. A.C. " on Justia Law
Posted in: Juvenile Law
In re State of Colorado v. Juul Labs, Inc.
Defendants were California residents who served in various capacities as officers or directors of JUUL Labs, Inc. (“JUUL”), an e-cigarette manufacturer, or its predecessor companies. The State of Colorado filed an amended complaint alleging that defendants in their individual capacities, along with JUUL as a corporation, violated several provisions of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”) and were subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado. Defendants contended the district court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over them was improper because they lacked the requisite minimum contacts with Colorado and the exercise of personal jurisdiction over them was unreasonable under the circumstances. JUUL did not argue that the district court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that because: (1) the district court based its determination on allegations directed against JUUL and the group of defendants as a whole, rather than on an individualized assessment of each defendant’s actions; and (2) the State did not allege sufficient facts to establish either that defendants were primary participants in wrongful conduct that they purposefully directed at Colorado, or that the injuries alleged in the amended complaint arose out of or related to defendants’ Colorado-directed activities, the district court erred in finding that the State had made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction in this matter. View "In re State of Colorado v. Juul Labs, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Interest of A.S.M.
Following a preliminary hearing, a magistrate determined that probable cause existed to believe that A.S.M. had committed the delinquent acts alleged. A.S.M. timely sought review of the magistrate’s probable cause determination. But the juvenile court declined to review the matter on the merits, ruling that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the magistrate’s preliminary hearing finding did not constitute a final order. A.S.M. then invoked the Colorado Supreme Court's original jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court issued a rule to show cause. After review, the Supreme Court held that while only a district court magistrate’s final orders or judgments namely, those fully resolving an issue or claim were reviewable under C.R.M. 7(a)(3), the preliminary hearing statute in the Children’s Code, section 19-2.5-609(3), C.R.S. (2022), specifically permitted review of a magistrate’s preliminary hearing finding. "Therefore, we need not get in the middle of the parties’ tug-of-war over whether the magistrate’s preliminary hearing finding in this case constituted a final order. Instead, we hold that section 19-2.5-609(3) entitles prosecutors and juveniles alike to ask a juvenile court to review a magistrate’s preliminary hearing finding in a delinquency proceeding." View "In re Interest of A.S.M." on Justia Law
Plemons v. Colorado
Defendant Cheryl Plemmons intentionally spat on two sheriff deputies while they were attempting to determine if she was suicidal. The deputies arrested her for spitting on them, and the prosecution charged her with three counts of second degree assault: one under section 18-3-203(1)(f.5), C.R.S. (2022), and two under section 18-3-203(1)(h). A jury found her guilty of each count. On appeal, Plemmons argued the trial court incorrectly instructed the jury on an element of the offense: the scope of the term “harm” as it related to her intent in spitting on the officers. A division of the court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction. Like the courts below, the Colorado Supreme Court held that “harm” as used in subsections 18-3-203(1)(f.5)(I) and (h) encompassed more than just physical harm. "Psychological harm can suffice." However, the Court concluded Plemmons was entitled to a new trial because the trial court’s jury instructions didn’t accurately convey the meaning of “harm” to the jury. Thus, judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Plemons v. Colorado" on Justia Law
Colorado v. Deaner
Eduardo Barrera was driving a Jeep SUV eastbound on I-70 with Isaiah Deaner in the passenger’s seat. Trooper Bollen, an officer patrolling the highway, saw the SUV pass by and noted that it was an apparent rental vehicle with Arizona plates. Trooper Bollen testified that he was suspicious because I-70 is a major drug corridor where traffickers frequently use rental vehicles to smuggle contraband, bulk narcotics, people, weapons, and cash. He further testified that he specifically noticed the Arizona plates because Arizona borders Mexico, a main source of bulk narcotics in this part of the country. In this interlocutory appeal of a suppression order, the Colorado Supreme Court considered whether a police officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop. Under the totality of the circumstances here, the Court concluded the officer lacked such reasonable suspicion. The Court therefore affirmed the trial court’s order suppressing the evidence obtained from the search, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Colorado v. Deaner" on Justia Law