Justia Colorado Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Public Benefits
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Brooke Rojas received food stamp benefits to which she was not legally entitled. Colorado charged her with two counts of theft under the general theft statute, section 18-4-401(1)(a), C.R.S. (2019). Rojas moved to dismiss these charges, arguing that she could only be prosecuted under section 26-2-305(1)(a), C.R.S. (2019), because it created the specific crime of theft of food stamps. The trial court denied the motion, and a jury convicted Rojas of the two general theft counts. Rojas contended on appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court that the trial court erred by denying the motion to dismiss because section 26-2-305(1)(a) abrogated the general theft statute in food stamp benefit cases. A split division of the court of appeals agreed with her. The Supreme Court, however, disagreed with Rojas and the division majority. Based on the statute’s plain language, the Court held that the legislature didn’t create a crime separate from general theft by enacting section 26-2-305(1)(a). View "Colorado v. Rojas" on Justia Law

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Brooke Rojas received food stamp benefits to which she was not legally entitled. The prosecution charged her with two counts of theft under the general theft statute, section 18-4-401(1)(a), C.R.S. (2019). Rojas moved to dismiss these charges, arguing that she could only be prosecuted under section 26-2-305(1)(a), C.R.S. (2019), because it created the specific crime of theft of food stamps. The trial court denied the motion, and a jury convicted Rojas of the two general theft counts. Rojas contended on appeal that the trial court erred by denying the motion to dismiss because section 26-2-305(1)(a) abrogated the general theft statute in food stamp benefit cases. A split division of the court of appeals agreed with her. The Colorado Supreme Court, however, disagreed with Rojas and the division majority. Based on the statute’s plain language, the Supreme Court held the legislature didn’t create a crime separate from general theft by enacting section 26-2-305(1)(a). View "Colorado v. Rojas" on Justia Law

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To address economic conditions and projections demonstrating a severely underfunded plan, the Colorado General Assembly approved measured designed to protect present and future retirees by providing an adequately pension program. This appeal centered on changes made to the annual cost of living (COLA) that applied to increase each retiree's vested base retirement benefit. Plaintiffs in this case were retired public employees who contended that they had a contract with the State entitling each of them, upon retirement, to have their base pension benefit annually adjusted by the specific COLA formula in existence at the time they were eligible to retire, for the rest of their lives without change. The district court ruled they had no such contract right to an unchangeable COLA formula. The court of appeals disagreed, finding the retirees had a contract right to the formula in place at the time of eligibility for retirement or actual retirement based on the so-called "public policy exception," and remanded for further review to determine whether the legislature's act violated the Contract Clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed with the court of appeals, and agreed with the district court. The appellate court's judgment was reversed that the district court's judgment reinstated. View "Justus v. Colorado Public Employee's Retirement Association Pension Plan" on Justia Law