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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments at CaƱon City High School

Friday, October 11, 2019

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at Cañon City 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, 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: 

  • 18SC84, Alysha Walton v. People of the State of Colorado: After Alysha Walton was sentenced for driving under the influence, she asked the trial judge to grant her permission to use medical marijuana during her 12-month unsupervised deferred sentence. The judge denied the request, concluding that it is not appropriate for someone in substance abuse treatment classes to be under the influence of drugs, and Ms. Walton appealed. A District Court judge who heard the case on appeal from the County Court affirmed the decision, and Ms. Walton asked the Supreme Court to review the case. A critical issue is whether the statute permitting use of medical marijuana while on probation creates a presumption that the probationer may use medical marijuana unless the court determines that prohibiting its use is necessary and appropriate to accomplish sentencing goals, or if a defendant first must provide evidence that she’s received medical authorization to use marijuana in the first place. During a hearing in County Court, Ms. Walton’s counsel presented Ms. Walton’s medical marijuana registry card, her physician’s certification form and her physician’s active license but was unable to follow that court’s policy to produce a physician to testify in support of her use of medical marijuana while on probation. Ms. Walton argued the prohibition violated her rights. But the District Court concluded that the County Court’s policy of requiring a physician to testify regarding whether a defendant is legally authorized to use medical marijuana is reasonable and found for several reasons that the County Court’s prohibition in this case was necessary and appropriate to meet sentencing goals. Prosecutors argued in support of the judges’ decisions that Ms. Walton was unable to prove that she suffered a debilitating illness that might be alleviated through use of marijuana, and that there was insufficient evidence that she was authorized to use medical marijuana.
  • 17SC430, People of the State of Colorado v. William Steven Berry: The Supreme Court agreed to review this case after both sides appealed following the trial of William Berry, a former Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was charged with, among other things, embezzlement and official misconduct for buying privately owned guns that were being stored in the sheriff’s evidence locker. The guns were removed from a home after Mr. Berry responded to a domestic violence call there. The husband was arrested and the wife asked that the guns be removed. After the husband’s charges were resolved, prosecutors authorized law enforcement to either return the guns to their owner or destroy them. The husband had been deported, however, and Mr. Berry bought the guns from the wife for $500. Prosecutors charged Mr. Berry with several counts after alleging, among other things, he forged the wife’s signature on a release form. The jury convicted Mr. Berry of embezzlement of public property and official misconduct. A division of the Court of Appeals affirmed the misconduct conviction but reversed the embezzlement conviction. The division held that the guns at issue were not “public property” because they were merely in the possession of the sheriff’s office as opposed to being owned by the county. On the charge of official misconduct, the division rejected Mr. Berry’s argument that his purchase of the guns was not an act relating to his office, a necessary element of that offense. Prosecutors have asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the embezzlement conviction, and Mr. Berry asked the Supreme Court to overturn the conviction for official misconduct.

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 in the auditorium at Cañon City High School, 1313 College Ave., Cañon City, CO 81212. 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=2019

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.

 

Media opportunity

What:             Colorado Supreme Court Oral Arguments

When:             9 a.m. – noon, Oct. 17, 2019

Where:           Cañon City High School, 1313 College Ave., Cañon City, CO 81212

 

Photo opportunities. During oral arguments, the requirements set forth in Chapter 38, Rule 3 of the Colorado Supreme Court Rules are in effect. Rule 3 is attached. Highlights include:

  1. A request for expanded media coverage (https://www.courts.state.co.us/Media/request/) must be filed in advance with copies to counsel for the parties (see below).
  2. If granted, only one video camera and/or one still camera is allowed, and that media source must share and pool its coverage with other media.
  3. No flash attachments or lighted television cameras are allowed during the arguments.
  4. The camera operator may use a tripod, but shall not change location while court is in session.

For information, contact Jon Sarché, (720) 625-5811.

Following each argument, during the question-and-answer interaction between the students, lawyers and justices, access is open for media opportunities without the limitations of Rule 3. All media representatives also are welcome to photograph the luncheon immediately following the cases.

Schedule:

9 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

Opening remarks

9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

18SC84: Walton v. People

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Justices conference; attorneys answer students’ questions

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

17SC430: People v. Berry

11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Justices conference; attorneys answer students’ questions

11:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Justices answer students’ questions

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (est.)

Lunch, justices and selected students

Request for Expanded Media Coverage. Requests must be submitted at least one day prior to the proceeding as outlined in Rule 3 (submitting requests three days prior to the proceeding is appreciated to allow for response time). Requests may be made by filling out the form at https://www.courts.state.co.us/Media/request/. Contact information for counsel in the cases is provided below.

Expanded media coverage of court proceedings

The presence of expanded media coverage in the Colorado court system’s courtrooms is controlled by strict standards spelled out in Chapter 38, Rule 3 of the Colorado Supreme Court Rules effective July 1, 2010. The rule also outlines each step necessary to garner approval for such coverage.

There are several points in the Rule of particular note:

  1. A request for expanded media coverage (https://www.courts.state.co.us/Media/request/) must be submitted to the court at least one day before expanded media coverage is requested to begin, unless a longer or shorter time is required or permitted by the court.
  2. Copies of the expanded media coverage request shall be sent to all counsel for each party participating in the proceeding prior to submitting the request to the court.
  3. The request must include a description of the pooling arrangements, including the identity of the designated representatives.
  4. Any party or witness may lodge with the judge a written objection to expanded coverage of all or a portion of a proceeding.

Please see https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Media/Cameras%20in%20the%20Courtroom%202015%20update.pdf for the full text of Rule 3.

 

18SC84: Alysha Walton v. The People of the State of Colorado

For the Petitioner:

Cayce Duncan, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, 19 N. Tejon St., Ste. 105, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, 719-475-1235, cayce.duncan@coloradodefenders.us

For the Respondent:

Daniel May, Alexandra Staubach and Tanya A. Karimi, Office of the District Attorney, 4th Judicial District, 105 E. Vermijo Ave,. Ste. 500, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, 719-520-6000, doylebaker@elpasoco.com

 

17SC430:  The People of the State of Colorado v. William Steven Berry
For the Petitioner:

Jacob R. Lofgren, Assistant Attorney General, 1300 Broadway, 9th Floor, Denver, CO 80203, 720-508-6459, Jacob.lofgren@coag.gov

For the Respondent:
Reid J. Elkus and Lucas Lorenz, Elkus & Sisson PC, 501 S. Cherry St., Ste. 920, Denver, CO 80246, 303-567-7981, relkus@elkusandsisson.com, llorenz@elkusandsisson.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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