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In 2010, Carestream Health, Inc. began purchasing gas transportation services from Public Service Company of Colorado. In 2013, Public Service discovered that it had undercharged Carestream by approximately $1.26 million for those services. When Public Service sought to recover a portion of that amount, Carestream refused to pay. Carestream filed a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, claiming that Public Service had violated its tariff by failing to use “all reasonable means” to prevent billing errors, as required by the tariff. The Commission disagreed, and the district court affirmed the Commission’s decision. Carestream appealed, arguing that the Commission in effect, improperly added language to the tariff, thereby exceeding the Commission’s constitutionally and statutorily granted authority. Specifically, Carestream contended that the Commission added a requirement that billing errors be foreseeable before Public Service was required to take means to prevent them. Carestream also argued that the district court erred when it held that Carestream lacked standing to pursue a separate claim that Public Service violated its tariff by recovering from its general customer base that portion of the undercharge it was unable to recover from Carestream. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the district court, finding : (1) the Commission properly interpreted the tariff and acted pursuant to its authority; and (2) Carestream lacked standing to challenge Public Service’s recovery of the undercharge from its general customer base because Carestream suffered no injury from the action. View "Carestream Health, Inc. v. Colo. Pub. Utils. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in this matter addressed appeals from two related cases: Gallegos Family Properties, LLC’s petition to de-designate a portion of the Upper Crow Creek Designated Ground Water Basin, and an order awarding the Well Owners a portion of their litigation costs. At issue was whether Gallegos satisfied the statutory standard for de-designating a portion of the Basin set forth in section 37-90-106(1)(a), C.R.S. (2003), and as interpreted by this the Court in Gallegos v. Colorado Ground Water Commission, 147 P.3d 20 (Colo. 2006), and whether Gallegos should have bourne the Well Owners’ costs. The designated groundwater court concluded that Gallegos had failed to make new showings sufficient to justify de-designating a portion of the Basin and taxed Gallegos for a portion of the Well Owners’ costs. The Supreme Court concluded that Gallegos failed to prove by evidence not before the 1987 Commission that the Well Owners were pumping water connected to Crow Creek such that future conditions and factual data justify de-designating a portion of the Basin. Because a party must show connectivity to prove impact, Gallegos failed to meet its burden, and de-designation was improper. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the designated groundwater court’s order denying Gallegos’s petition. Furthermore, because the designated groundwater court properly denied Gallegos’s petition for de-designation, the Supreme Court concluded that the court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the Well Owners were prevailing parties for purposes of C.R.C.P. 54(d), that the costs awarded were reasonable and necessary, and that Gallegos should pay these costs pursuant to Rule 54(d). View "Gallegos Family Properties, LLC v. Colorado Groundwater Commission" on Justia Law

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In November 2008, a jury convicted Deborah Nicholls for the murders of her three children. On appeal, Nicholls argued, inter alia, that the trial court erred in admitting at trial the statements that her husband, Tim Nicholls (then incarcerated), made to his cellmate about Nicholls’ involvement in their children’s deaths. Nicholls contended that these statements violated her state constitutional right of confrontation and were inadmissible hearsay. Nicholls also argued that the trial court erroneously admitted her mother’s testimony about Nicholls’ reaction to her second child’s death years earlier, and her husband’s cellmate’s testimony about that child’s cause of death from sudden infant death syndrome (“SIDS”). Finding no reversible error, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed Nicholls’ conviction. View "Nicholls v. Colorado" on Justia Law

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The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the statutory scheme property taxation of oil and gas leaseholds authorized the retroactive tax assessment in this case. Petitioner Kinder Morgan CO2 Company, L.P., operated oil and gas leaseholds in Montezuma County, Colorado. In 2009, the assessor for Montezuma County issued a corrective tax assessment on these leaseholds for the previous tax year, retroactively assessing over $2 million in property taxes, after an auditor concluded that Kinder Morgan underreported the value of gas produced at the leaseholds. Kinder Morgan appealed, arguing the assessor lacked authority to retroactively assess these taxes because Colorado law did not authorize a retroactive assessment when an operator has correctly reported the volume of oil and gas sold but has underreported the selling price at the wellhead. In affirming the court of appeals in this matter, the Supreme Court further concluded that the Board of Assessment Appeals did not err in determining that Kinder Morgan underreported the selling price by claiming excess transportation deductions, given Kinder Morgan’s relationship to the owner of the pipeline through which the gas was transported. View "Kinder Morgan CO2 Co., L.P. v. Montezuma Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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In light of the evidence presented at trial and the instructions actually provided to the jury, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded there was no reasonable possibility that the trial court’s failure to instruct on reckless second degree assault contributed to the defendant Darren Roman’s conviction of first degree assault, and any error in that regard would therefore have been harmless. The State sought review of the court of appeals’ judgment reversing Roman’s conviction for first degree assault. The trial court instructed the jury on the lesser included offense of second degree assault committed by intentionally causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon, but it denied Roman’s request for an additional lesser-included-offense instruction on second degree assault committed by recklessly causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon. The court of appeals reversed, concluding both that the trial court erred in denying Roman’s requested additional lesser-included-offense instruction and that the error was not harmless. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals. View "Colorado v. Roman" on Justia Law

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Jesus Flores-Heredia pled guilty to inducement and conspiracy to sell and possess with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, and he received a one-year deferred judgment in 1990. Although he successfully completed the deferred judgment in 1991, no court ever ordered his plea withdrawn or the action against him dismissed pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2), C.R.S. (2016). In 2014, Flores-Heredia filed a motion to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d). The district court concluded that because no order had been entered withdrawing Flores-Heredia’s plea and dismissing the charge under section 18-1.3-102(2), it would enter such an order. The Colorado Supreme Court found under the plain language of Rule 32(d), there must be a “plea” to “withdraw.” Here, there was no such plea to withdraw, because the plea was previously withdrawn pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2). Nothing in Rule 32(d) authorized a district court to withdraw an already-withdrawn plea. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Flores-Heredia v. Colorado" on Justia Law

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Jose Espino-Paez pled guilty to the use of a schedule II controlled substance and received a deferred judgment. When he successfully completed the terms of the deferred judgment, his guilty plea was withdrawn and the charge was dismissed with prejudice. In 2012, Espino-Paez filed a motion to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d). The district court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding that the district court had no authority to withdraw the plea because it had already been withdrawn. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed. View "Espino-Paez v. Colorado" on Justia Law

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In 2009, defendant pled guilty to criminal impersonation, and he received a one-year deferred judgment. Defendant successfully complied with the terms of the deferred judgment, and in 2010 the court withdrew his guilty plea and the charge was dismissed with prejudice pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2) C.R.S. (2016). In 2013, defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea under Crim. P. 32(d), asserting that the plea was based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court determined that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Crim. P. 32(d) allowed a defendant to seek withdrawal of a plea that has previously been withdrawn pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2) when the plea has collateral consequences under federal immigration law. The Colorado Supreme Court found under the plain language of Rule 32(d), there must be a “plea” to “withdraw.” Here, there was no such plea to withdraw, because the plea was previously withdrawn pursuant to section 18-1.3-102(2). Nothing in Rule 32(d) authorized a district court to withdraw an already-withdrawn plea. View "Colorado v. Corrales-Castro" on Justia Law

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The State sought review of whether the trial court erred in suppressing evidence. Specifically, whether defendant Bernard Shoen’s encounter with police, during which he confessed to possessing a controlled substance, was consensual or whether it constituted an impermissible seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded the encounter was consensual. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s order suppressing Shoen’s statements and the evidence seized from his truck, and remanded to that court for further proceedings. View "Colorado v. Shoen" on Justia Law

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Parish Carter was charged with two counts of first degree murder, bribing a witness, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, intimidation of a witness, and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, all in connection with the drive-by shooting deaths of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancée Vivian Wolfe, the week before Marshall-Fields was to testify in a prosecution of Carter’s stepbrother, Robert Ray, for an earlier murder. Carter was acquitted of first degree murder and of bribing a witness but convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and the remaining charges. He was sentenced to 48 years for conspiracy and to consecutive lesser terms of incarceration for his other convictions, for a total sentence of 70 years. Carter petitioned for review of the court of appeals judgment affirming his conviction of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. With regard to a videotaped interrogation by the police, the district court denied a motion to suppress the defendant’s statements, rejecting all of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims, including his assertion that he had not been adequately advised of his right to have an attorney present during interrogation; and it denied the defendant’s motion to limit access to that videotape during jury deliberations. In a fractured opinion, in which all three members of the division of the court of appeals wrote separately, the appellate court affirmed with regard to both of these assignments of error. Because the Miranda advisement of the defendant reasonably conveyed that he had a right to consult with counsel, both before and during any interrogation by the police, and because the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting the jury unrestricted access to both a video recording and transcript of the defendant’s custodial interrogation, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals. View "Carter v. Colorado" on Justia Law