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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments at Brighton High School on Oct. 5, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, at Brighton High School before an audience of students. The public also is invited to attend.

The visit is part of the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Courts in the Community, the outreach program the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals initiated on Law Day (May 1), 1986. The Courts in the Community program was developed to give Colorado high school students firsthand experience in how the Colorado judicial system works and illustrate how disputes are resolved in a democratic society. These are not mock proceedings. The court will hear arguments in actual cases from which it will issue opinions. The court generally issues opinions within a few months of the arguments.

All seven justices hear cases together. They are Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice and Justices Nathan B. Coats, Allison H. Eid, Monica M. Márquez, Brian D. Boatright, William W. Hood III and Richard L. Gabriel.

The two cases are: 

  • 14SC109: People of the State of Colorado v. Robert Clyde Crouse: The Colorado Supreme Court agreed to prosecutors’ request to review their appeal of a lower court’s order to return medical marijuana and marijuana plants to a man who was acquitted of drug charges. The Colorado Constitution requires law enforcement to return medical marijuana to people acquitted of alleged drug crimes, but prosecutors argue that provision is pre-empted by a federal statute forbidding distribution of marijuana. The trial court ruled that because the federal Controlled Substances Act grants immunity to law enforcement officers who are lawfully engaged in enforcing drug laws, returning Mr. Crouse’s marijuana would not violate the federal law. Police then returned the marijuana to Crouse, but prosecutors appealed so law enforcement would have guidance in future, similar cases. In a 2-1 decision, a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s order, and prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

 

  • 15SC261: Zachariah C. Dobler v. People of the State of Colorado: Zachariah Dobler asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review his case, arguing a trial judge unconstitutionally lengthened his prison sentence after his probation was revoked. Mr. Dobler pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and was sentenced to four years in prison. After he served eight months, he was placed in – and successfully completed – the Department of Corrections’ “boot camp” program. At Mr. Dobler’s request, the trial court then reduced his sentence, placing him on 30 months of intensive supervised probation. During that term, however, Mr. Dobler committed a new crime. The sentencing court revoked his probation and resentenced him to six years in prison, with credit for the time he’d already served. On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that when Mr. Dobler violated his probation, he was subject to resentencing for any sentence that the court could have originally imposed. Mr. Dobler then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the new six-year sentence he was given violated his right against double jeopardy, or being prosecuted or sentenced twice for substantially the same offense.

 

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 in the auditorium at Brighton High School, 270 S. Eighth Ave., Brighton, CO 80601. A question-and-answer session, during which the students may ask questions of the attorneys, will follow the arguments in each case. At the conclusion of the second argument, the students also will have the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the Supreme Court justices.

There will be a limited number of seats for the public. Audio recordings from the two arguments will be available online within one to two days of the arguments at http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Oral_Arguments/Index.cfm.

Editor’s Note:

The documents related to these two cases are located at: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Education/Materials.cfm?s=Fall&y=2016

Additional information on the Courts in the Community program is available at: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Education/Community.cfm

News media organizations interested in recording the arguments may contact Jon Sarché at the State Court Administrator’s Office (contact information below). The following pages contain information about expanded media coverage.

We will be reserving seats for journalists. Please contact Jon Sarché at jon.sarche@judicial.state.co.us or at 720-625-5811 if you plan to attend.

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