|Colorado Court of Appeals to hear arguments at Alamosa and Salida high schools the week of March 13|
Monday, March 6, 2017
DENVER – A division of the Colorado Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at Alamosa High School on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, and at Salida High School on March 16, 2017, before audiences of students. While space will be limited at both schools, the public also is invited to attend.
In addition, the three-judge division will meet with students from Alamosa Elementary School and from Longfellow Elementary School in Salida, and conduct meetings including continuing legal education sessions with members of local bar associations and other groups.
The high school visits are 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 weeks of the arguments.
The 22 judges of the Colorado Court of Appeals sit in divisions of three judges to hear cases. Judges hearing cases at Alamosa and Salida High Schools are Robert D. Hawthorne, Karen M. Ashby and Rebecca R. Freyre. Senior Judge Russell Carparelli will replace Judge Ashby for one of the hearings at Alamosa High School.
The two cases to be heard at Alamosa High School are:
- 16CA1035, Chad R. Robison v. Circle T Land Co., et al.: In 2015, Chad Robison and Steve Tonso began negotiating the sale of a large southern Colorado ranch, using e-mails and text messages in the negotiations. By mid-summer, they had reached agreement on essential terms of the sale, but no written contract was ever completed. Soon after reaching that agreement, Mr. Tonso e-mailed Mr. Robison to say he’d received a substantially larger offer for the ranch and would not sell to Mr. Robison. Mr. Robison then sued, alleging breach of contract. The trial court dismissed the claim, stating there was no binding agreement between the parties. Mr. Robison appealed, asking the Colorado Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court and require that a hearing be held to determine whether he had a binding agreement with Mr. Tonso.
- 16CA0228, People of the State of Colorado v. Marcus Lessard: Mr. Lessard has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review his conviction on charges of stalking and violating a permanent protection order (PPO) issued to prevent him from contacting the victim. Mr. Lessard pleaded guilty to stalking in 2010 and the victim was granted a PPO. The case was dismissed after he completed terms of a deferred sentence, but the PPO remained in effect. In 2013, Mr. Lessard went back to court, believing errors had been made in the initial case, and sought to have the PPO vacated. During that subsequent court case, Mr. Lessard on two occasions served the victim with a copy of his court filings. However, prosecutors said, the packages of legal documents also included derogatory writings attacking the victim. Mr. Lessard was then convicted of felony stalking and two counts of violating a protection order and sentenced to four years in prison. In his appeal, Mr. Lessard makes several arguments that the trial court denied him his rights, including that the trial court improperly prevented him from presenting evidence that he was relying on what he thought was good advice from attorneys and other authorities when he served the victim with legal documents and other materials.
The two cases to be heard at Salida High School are:
- 16CA0763, Richard Blakesley v. BT Construction: Mr. Blakesley was severely injured in June 2012 in a construction accident that ultimately led to the amputation of his lower left leg. In 2014, he sued BT Construction and other parties (“construction defendants”), as well as the BNSF Railway (BNSF). The trial court dismissed the case against the construction defendants, finding that they are statutory employers and that, as a result, Mr. Blakesley was entitled to compensation under the Colorado Workers' Compensation Act ("Act") but could not sue the construction defendants for additional compensation. The court also dismissed the case against BNSF, finding that BNSF did not have a duty under the law to protect Mr. Blakesley from harm. Mr. Blakesley asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review the trial court's decision, arguing that the construction defendants are not statutory employers entitled to the immunity granted by the Act and that BNSF is a "landowner" as that term is defined by law and, therefore, had a duty of reasonable care.
- 15CA1955, People of the State of Colorado v. Angelita Sue Ramos: A jury convicted Ms. Ramos of stealing money raised for a 2013 elementary school fundraising event. She was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay about $4,000 in restitution. She has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review her conviction. While Ms. Ramos was charged with several counts, the jury acquitted her of all but one count that alleged three incidents of theft. On appeal, Ms. Ramos argues the trial court erroneously interpreted the statute to determine that the jury could convict her on that count if it believed prosecutors proved at least one of the three alleged incidents of theft; she argues prosecutors would have had to prove at least two of the alleged incidents of theft to support a conviction. She also argues that the trial court erred by allowing the prosecution’s lay witness to give expert testimony and by preventing Ms. Ramos’ expert witness from testifying.
Proceedings at Alamosa High School, 805 Craft Drive in Alamosa, will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 14; proceedings at Salida High School, 26 Jones Avenue in Salida, will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 16.
Question-and-answer sessions, during which the students may ask questions of the attorneys, will follow the arguments in each case. Students also will have the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the Court of Appeals judges.
There will be a limited number of seats for the public. Video 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/Court_Of_Appeals/Oral_Arguments/Index.cfm.
The documents related to these cases are located at: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Education/Materials.cfm?s=Spring&y=2017
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 email@example.com or at 720-625-5811 if you plan to attend.