Justia Colorado Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law

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In this appeal, the Supreme Court reviewed a court of appeals' opinion in "Churchill v. Univ. of Colo. at Boulder," whereby the underlying civil action involved claims brought by Professor Ward Churchill pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 after his tenured employment was terminated by the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado. Churchill alleged that the Regents violated his constitutionally protected free speech rights by initiating an investigation into his academic integrity and by terminating his tenured employment in retaliation for his publication of a controversial essay. Churchill sought both compensatory and equitable relief. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal of Churchill's termination claim on grounds that the Regents' quasi-judicial actions were entitled to absolute immunity. It also affirmed the trial court's dismissal of Churchill's claim for equitable remedies because it concluded that such remedies were not available in a Section 1983 action against quasi-judicial officials. Lastly, based on its determination that allegedly retaliatory employment investigations are not actionable under Section 1983, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court's directed verdict in favor of the University on Churchill's bad faith investigation claim. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, but on different grounds: (1) the Court held that the Regents' decision to terminate Churchill's employment was a quasi-judicial action functionally comparable to a judicial process, and that the Regents were entitled to absolute immunity concerning their decision; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ruled that Churchill was not entitled to the equitable remedies of reinstatement and front pay; and (3) Churchill’s bad faith investigation claim was barred by qualified immunity because the Regents' investigation into Churchill's academic record does not implicate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right or law. View "Churchill v. University of Colorado at Boulder" on Justia Law

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The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, LLC, with Martha Altman, Eric Mote, and John Davis (collectively, Students), filed a complaint against the University of Colorado's Board of Regents alleging that the Board's Weapons Control Policy 14-I (which prohibits the carrying of handguns on campus by all persons but certified law enforcement personnel) violates the Colorado Concealed Carry Act (CCA) and the Colorado Constitution's right to bear arms. The Board filed a motion to dismiss which the district court granted. The Students appealed, and the court of appeals reversed, holding that the Students stated a claim for relief because the CCA expressly applied to "all areas of the state." The court further concluded that the Students had stated a claim for relief under article II, section 13 of the Colorado Constitution, which affords individuals the right to bear arms in self-defense. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding the CCA's comprehensive statewide purpose, broad language, and narrow exclusions show that the General Assembly intended to divest the Board of Regents of its authority to regulate concealed handgun possession on campus. Accordingly, the Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeals that, by alleging the Policy violated the CCA, the Students stated a claim for relief. View "Regents of the University of Colorado v. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus" on Justia Law