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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments 10/18 at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins

Monday, October 15, 2018

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins 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, an 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 provide Colorado high school students insight regarding the Colorado judicial system 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 Nathan B. Coats and Justices Monica M. Márquez, Brian D. Boatright, William W. Hood III, Richard L. Gabriel, Melissa Hart and Carlos A. Samour Jr.

The two cases are: 

  • 15SC935, People of the State of Colorado v. Mikel Morehead: Mikel Morehead and his girlfriend lived together for eight years until they broke up; he kicked her out of their shared home. A few days after the breakup, she returned to the residence to collect her belongings. She and Morehead began fighting, the fight turned violent, and Morehead was arrested for domestic violence. Later, Morehead’s ex-girlfriend told police she wanted to talk about Morehead’s other criminal activities. She and an officer returned to the residence, where she gave police consent to search. However, she didn’t have keys to unlock an exterior door and asked Morehead’s son to let her and the officer into the house, where she used her own key to unlock an interior door. Without a warrant, police found illegal gambling machines. Police then obtained a warrant, and the subsequent search revealed evidence of methamphetamine distribution and illegal gambling. In the trial court, Morehead moved to suppress the evidence as part of an illegal search, but the trial court concluded that the ex-girlfriend had authority to consent to the search. On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals disagreed and held that she lacked such authority. The Colorado Supreme Court granted prosecutors’ request to review the case.
  • 16SC158, People of the State of Colorado v. Simon Kubuugu: A police officer observed Simon Kubuugu driving erratically in a parking lot. Kubuugu parked near the officer’s car, and, suspecting that Kubuugu was under the influence, the officer approached the vehicle. Kubuugu was charged with several offenses, including DUI. At trial, the arresting officer testified that Kubuugu smelled strongly of recently consumed alcohol. The officer distinguished between the smell of consumed alcohol emanating from Kubuugu’s breath and alcohol that had spilled on Kubuugu’s clothes. The prosecution did not qualify the officer as an expert witness but as a lay witness. Kubuugu was convicted on several charges, and he appealed. The Colorado Court of Appeals held that the officer should have been qualified as an expert witness because he used his specialized training, knowledge and experience to reach conclusions related to Kubuugu’s alcohol consumption. Prosecutors asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review the case, and the Court agreed to consider whether the trial judge improperly admitted the officer’s testimony as lay testimony rather than expert testimony.

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 in the auditorium at Fossil Ridge High School, 5400 Ziegler Rd., Fort Collins, CO 80528. 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: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Education/Materials.cfm?s=Fall&y=2018

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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