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Colorado Court of Appeals to hear arguments at Berthoud High School on Nov. 13

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

DENVER – The Colorado Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in two cases at Berthoud High School on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, 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 give Colorado high school students insight into 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 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 Berthoud High School are Robert D. Hawthorne, David Furman and Anthony J. Navarro.

The two cases are: 

  • 18CA2236, Delores Cruz v. Colorado Dept. of Agriculture: Delores and Joe Cruz are appealing a trial court’s finding that their lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Agriculture cannot move forward because under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, the agency had no liability for Ms. Cruz’s injuries or Mr. Cruz’s losses based on his wife’s injuries. Ms. Cruz was hurt in 2016 while walking down a ramp at the Palace of Agriculture at the Colorado State Fairgrounds. According to evidence presented in the trial court, the ramp appears to have been originally intended for use by motor vehicles, but is frequently used by pedestrians. There were no handrails or signs warning of potential danger for pedestrians, but the trial court concluded after an evidentiary hearing that none of the statutory exemptions applied to the case, so the state’s immunity from liability was intact. The trial court concluded that the Cruzes’ complaint dealt with the design of the ramp as opposed to its construction or maintenance and that, under the law, the government is immune from liability for design flaws. The Cruzes argue that the ramp was not originally intended for use by pedestrians and that allowing such use is a change that the state needs to account for by making it safe for pedestrians. The state argues that the trial court’s ruling regarding the design flaws was correct and that the court also correctly concluded that the government was not liable for injuries that result from a change in the use of a public building.

 

  • 18CA1018, People v. Kelvin Dalexi Arteaga: Kelvin Arteaga has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review his case, in which he was convicted of drug charges. His initial prison sentence was later reduced to probation. Mr. Arteaga and some friends were arrested during an undercover drug bust involving a confidential informant who was wearing a radio that transmitted sound of the drug deal to police. After the deal was done, police arrested several people including Mr. Arteaga, who was accused of handing two bindles of heroin to the confidential informant after the informant gave money to another person. Mr. Arteaga’s attorney argued before trial that the arresting officers did not have probable cause to arrest Mr. Arteaga because they did not know which of the people involved had sold the drugs to the informant. Without probable cause, Mr. Arteaga argued police did not have the right to arrest him, and he asked the trial court to suppress evidence of the drugs and of Mr. Arteaga’s statements to police because the police obtained that evidence as a result of an illegal arrest. The trial court rejected those arguments and allowed the prosecution to present the disputed evidence, and Mr. Arteaga was later convicted. The Court of Appeals will consider whether the trial court properly denied Mr. Arteaga’s motion to suppress the evidence.

 

The proceedings will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Berthoud High School, 850 Spartan Ave., Berthoud, CO 80513. 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 Court of Appeals judges.

There will be a limited number of seats for the public. Visitors will need to bring a government-issued photo identification to present to school security officers for entry after clearing a background check. 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/Court_Of_Appeals/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.

 

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