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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments at Pueblo's South High School on Thursday, May 4, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at South High School in Pueblo 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. Justice Márquez will not participate in the second case.

The two cases are: 

  • 14SC870: People of the State of Colorado v. Susan Leigh Stock: Ms. Stock worked as a desk clerk for a hotel in Winter Park and lived in a room at the hotel, where the owner had reported to police that money had been taken from vending machines. In her initial interview with police, Ms. Stock denied taking any money, but later confessed the theft to the hotel owner, who called police again. An officer knocked on Ms. Stock’s door at the hotel, and entered the room after Ms. Stock’s father answered the door. The father left the room and during an interview, Ms. Stock admitted to taking cash totaling about $1,375 to cover personal expenses. The trial court denied Ms. Stock’s motion to suppress evidence from the police interview after Ms. Stock argued her father did not have the authority to allow the officer to enter the room. A jury found her guilty of burglary and theft, and she was sentenced to probation. The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with Ms. Stock that the evidence gathered was the result of an illegal entry that violated her constitutional rights and that it should not have been admitted as evidence during the trial. Prosecutors appealed, and the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to review whether the trial court was correct in ruling that the officer’s entry into the room was consensual and legal under the Fourth Amendment because Ms. Stock’s father answered the door and consented to the entry on her behalf.
  • 16SC388: Maria Lopez v. Alexander S. Trujillo: Ms. Lopez sued Mr. Trujillo after his dogs charged a chain-link fence in his front yard as her 8-year-old son was walking by on the sidewalk. The dogs frightened the boy, who ran into the street, where he was struck by a van and injured. The lawsuit claimed Mr. Trujillo was negligent in maintaining the dogs because he knew they regularly threatened people on the sidewalk. The trial court granted Mr. Trujillo’s motion to dismiss the case, agreeing with him that he could not reasonably foresee that his dogs’ behavior would frighten the boy enough to prompt him to run into the street and get hit by a vehicle. In its ruling, the trial court found that Mr. Trujillo did not owe the boy a duty of care, which is an essential element in a negligence claim. Ms. Lopez appealed, and in a 2-1 decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, reasoning Mr. Trujillo could not be liable for negligence because he could not have foreseen the boy’s injuries and therefore did not owe him a duty of care. Ms. Lopez appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, which agreed to review whether a dog owner owes a duty of care to a child pedestrian who was frightened by the owner’s dogs, ran into the street and was injured.

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 4, 2017 in the auditorium at South High School, 1801 Hollywood Dr., Pueblo, CO 81005. 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.

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