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Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments at Pomona High School in Arvada on Oct. 26

Thursday, October 21, 2021

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, at Pomona High School in Arvada before an audience of students. Limited seating for the public will be available, and all visitors to the school must wear face masks while inside.

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, and will be the first one conducted in-person since the pandemic began. Courts in the Community 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 Brian D. Boatright and Justices Monica M. Márquez, William W. Hood III, Richard L. Gabriel, Melissa Hart, Carlos A. Samour Jr., and Maria E. Berkenkotter.

The two cases are: 

  • 20SC646, Joy Maphis v. City of Boulder: Joy Maphis was injured in April 2017 when she tripped on a sidewalk that the city had scheduled for repair later that month because of a 2 ½-inch deviation between two concrete slabs. She required two surgeries for her injuries and never regained full range of motion in one elbow. She sued the city, claiming it was negligent and created an unreasonably dangerous condition when it failed to immediately fix the sidewalk after a city worker noticed the problem, or to alert pedestrians of the danger by placing warning cones or signs around it. In the trial court, the city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming it could not be sued under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, and that the condition of the sidewalk did not present an “unreasonable risk” as defined by that statute. The trial court ruled in Ms. Maphis’ favor, determining the city was not immune, and the city appealed that decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals. The majority of a division of the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling and ordered that the trial court dismiss the lawsuit, and Ms. Maphis appealed that decision. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear the case to address two errors she argued were made by the Court of Appeals: that it applied the incorrect standard of review, and that it erred by holding that the sidewalk did not constitute an unreasonable risk and dangerous condition.


  • 20SC430, People of the State of Colorado v. Jose Ornelas-Licano: In December 2014, police attempted to execute an arrest warrant for Jose Ornelas-Licano, who led officers in a car chase. At one point, a shot was fired from Ornelas-Licano’s gun in the direction of one of the police vehicles, creating an oval-shaped hole in Ornelas-Licano’s windshield. The bullet didn’t strike anyone. Prosecutors charged him with multiple offenses, including attempted first-degree murder. Before trial, prosecutors endorsed an expert witness who they said would testify that, in his opinion, the shape of the bullet hole in the windshield indicated the shot was made from shoulder height, undermining Ornelas-Licano’s theory that he accidentally fired while changing gears. The defense objected to the proposed testimony, and after the trial court held a hearing on the objection, the court decided to allow the witness’s testimony during trial. The jury convicted Ornelas-Licano of attempted second-degree murder. On appeal, a split division of the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial for that offense, holding that the expert witness’s testimony was not sufficiently reliable and should not have been allowed. Prosecutors then asked the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ decision.

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 in the auditorium at Pomona High School, 8101 W. Pomona Dr., Arvada, CO 80005. 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

Editor’s Note:

The documents related to these two cases are located at:

Additional information on the Courts in the Community program is available at:

News media organizations interested in recording the arguments may contact Jon Sarché at or 720-625-5811. The following pages contain information about expanded media coverage.



This information is provided as an e-mail service of the Colorado State Judicial Department, Office of State Court Administrator, 1300 Broadway, Suite 1200, Denver, CO 80203. To discontinue this service or update your e-mail address, please respond to this message with your name, contact information and any comments.

Media opportunity

What:             Colorado Supreme Court Oral Arguments

When:             9 a.m. – noon, Oct. 26, 2021

Where:           Pomona High School, 8101 W. Pomona Dr., Arvada, CO 80005

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 ( 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.



9 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

Opening remarks

9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

20SC646: Maphis v. Boulder

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Justices conference; attorneys answer students’ questions

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

20SC430: People v. Ornelas-Licano

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. – 12:30 p.m. (est.)

Small-group discussions, 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 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 ( 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.

Request for expanded media coverage in Colorado state courts

Rule 3.  Media Coverage of Court Proceedings

  1. Expanded Media Coverage: A judge may authorize expanded media coverage of court proceedings, subject to the guidelines set forth below.
  1. Definitions.  As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
  1. “Proceeding” means any trial, hearing, or any other matter held in open court which the public is entitled to attend.
  2. “Photograph” and “photography” means all recording or broadcasting of visual images, by means of still photographs, videotape, television broadcasts, motion pictures, or otherwise.
  3. “Expanded media coverage” means any photography or audio recording of proceedings.
  4. “Judge” means the justice, judge, magistrate, or other judicial officer presiding over the proceedings. In proceedings with more than one judge presiding, any decision required shall be made by a majority of the judges.
  5. “Media” means any news gathering or reporting agency and the individual persons involved, and includes newspapers, radio, television, radio and television networks, news services, magazines, trade papers, in-house publications, professional journals, or any other news reporting or news gathering agency whose function it is to inform the public or some segment thereof.
  1. Standards for Authorizing Coverage.  In determining whether expanded media coverage should be permitted, a judge shall consider the following factors:
  1. Whether there is a reasonable likelihood that expanded media coverage would interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial;
  2. Whether there is a reasonable likelihood that expanded media coverage would unduly detract from the solemnity, decorum and dignity of the court; and
  3. Whether expanded media coverage would create adverse effects which would be greater than those caused by traditional media coverage.
  1. Limitations on Expanded Media Coverage.  Notwithstanding an authorization to conduct expanded media coverage of a proceeding, there shall be no:
  1. Expanded media coverage of pretrial hearings in criminal cases, except advisements and arraignments;
  2. Expanded media coverage of jury voir dire;
  3. Audio recording or “zoom” close-up photography of bench conferences;
  4. Audio recording or close-up photography of communications between counsel and client or between co-counsel;
  5. Expanded media coverage of in camera hearings;
  6. Close-up photography of members of the jury.
  1. Authority to Impose Restrictions on Expanded Media Coverage.  A judge may restrict or limit expanded media coverage as may be necessary to preserve the dignity of the court or to protect the parties, witnesses, or jurors. A judge may terminate or suspend expanded media coverage at any time upon making findings of fact that: (1) rules established under this Rule or additional rules imposed by the judge have been violated; or (2) substantial rights of individual participants or rights to a fair trial will be prejudiced by such coverage if it is allowed to continue.
  1. Conditions for Coverage.  Expanded media coverage shall be conducted only under the following conditions:
  1. Equipment Limitations.
  1. Video.  Only one person at a time shall be permitted to operate a videotape, television, or motion picture camera. There shall be only one such camera at a time in the courtroom, except that, at the discretion of the judge, the camera operator may have a second camera. The camera operator may use a tripod, but shall not change location while court is in session.
  2. Audio.  The court’s audio system shall be used if technically suitable and, in that event, there must be no interference with the court’s use of its system. If the court’s system is not technically suitable, then the person conducting expanded media coverage may install an audio recording system at his or her own expense upon first obtaining approval of the judge. All microphones and related wiring shall be unobtrusive and shall not interfere with the movement of those in the courtroom.
  3. Still Cameras.  Only one person at a time shall be permitted to operate still cameras, which shall make as little noise as possible. The still photographer may use a tripod, but shall not change location while court is in session.
  4. Lighting.  No movie lights, flash attachments, or sudden lighting changes shall be permitted during a proceeding. No modification or addition of lighting equipment shall be permitted without the permission of the judge.
  5. Operating Signals.  No visible or audible light or signal (tally light) shall be used on any equipment.
  1. Pooling Arrangements.  The media shall be solely responsible for designating one media representative to conduct each of the categories of expanded media coverage listed in subsection (I) of this section, and for arranging an open and impartial distribution scheme with a distribution point located outside of the courtroom. If no agreement can be reached on either of these matters, then there shall be no expanded media coverage of the type for which no pooling agreement has been made. Neither judges nor other court personnel shall be called upon to resolve any disputes concerning such pooling arrangements.
  2. Conduct of Media Representatives.  Persons conducting expanded media coverage shall conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the decorum and dignity of the courtroom. The following practices shall apply:
  1. Equipment employed to provide expanded media coverage shall be positioned and operated so as to minimize any distraction;
  2. Identifying marks, call letters, logos, symbols, and legends shall be concealed on all equipment. Persons operating such equipment shall not wear clothing bearing any such identifying information;
  3. Equipment used to provide expanded media coverage shall not be placed in, or removed from, the courtroom while court is in session. No film, videotape, or lens shall be changed within a courtroom while court is in session.
  1. Procedures.  The following procedures shall be followed in obtaining authorization for expanded media coverage:
  1. Request for Expanded Media Coverage.  A written request shall be submitted to the judge at least one day before expanded media coverage is requested to begin, unless a longer or shorter time is required or permitted by the judge. Copies of the request shall be given to counsel for each party participating in the proceeding. The request shall include the following:
  1. The name, number, date and time of the proceeding;
  2. The type (audio, video or still photography) of expanded media coverage requested and a description of the pooling arrangements required by section (e)(II), if any, including the identity of the designated representatives.
  1. Objections.  Any party or witness may lodge with the judge a written objection to expanded media coverage of all or a portion of a proceeding.
  2. Judicial Authorization.  The judge shall rule on a request or objection within a reasonable time prior to the proceeding or promptly after the request or objection if the proceeding has begun. The ruling shall be made on the record and the reasons therefore set forth briefly.
  3. The media or any witness may not appeal, or seek review by original proceeding, the granting or denial of expanded media coverage. A party to the case may seek review of a ruling by original proceeding, if otherwise appropriate, or by post-trial appeal.
  1. Other use of Media.
  1. A judge may authorize the use of electronic or photographic means for the perpetuation of a record, or for purposes of judicial administration.
  2. A judge may authorize the broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing of investitive, ceremonial, or naturalization proceedings.


Counsel contact information:

20SC646: Joy Maphis v. City of Boulder

For the Petitioner:

Randall J. Paulsen, Randall J. Paulsen & Associates PC, 8704 Yates Dr., Ste. 100, Westminster, CO 80031,

Shauna O’Brien, O’Brien Law Firm LLC, 8704 Yates Dr., Ste. 100, Westminster, CO 80031,

For the Respondent:

Thomas A. Carr and Luia A. Toro, Office of the City Attorney, P.O. Box 791, Boulder, CO 80306, and


20SC430:  The People of the State of Colorado v. Jose Ornelas-Licano
For the Petitioner:

John T. Lee, Senior Assistant Attorney General, 1300 Broadway, 9th Floor, Denver, CO 80203, 720-508-6000,

For the Respondent:
James S. Hardy, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, 1300 Broadway, Suite 300, Denver, CO 80203, 303-764-1400,

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