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Colorado Court of Appeals to hear arguments at Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs High Schools the week of April 11

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

DENVER – A division of the Colorado Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at Glenwood Springs High School on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, and at Steamboat Springs High School on April 14, 2016, before audiences of students. While space will be limited, the public also is invited to attend.

In addition, the three-judge division will meet with students from Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs and from Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools in Steamboat Springs, and conduct meetings including continuing legal education sessions with members of local bar associations and other groups. The event at Steamboat Springs High School also will include students from Soroco High School in Oak Creek and Moffat County High School in Craig.

The high school visits are 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 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 Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs High Schools are Robert D. Hawthorne, Gilbert M. Román and Nancy J. Lichtenstein.

The two cases to be heard at Glenwood Springs High School are:

  • 15CA0285, Woodbridge v. Lo Viento Blanco: Lo Viento Blanco has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review a trial court’s decision granting a one-half-acre parcel of land near the Snowmass ski area to the Woodbridge Homeowner’s Association through a process called adverse possession. In adverse possession, a person acquires the land of another if that person uses the land for an uninterrupted 18-year period without the landowner’s permission. Woodbridge had been using and maintaining the parcel since 1975, and Lo Viento Blanco bought the land in 2010. Lo Viento argues that letters Woodbridge sent to the former landowner in 1991 and 1992 asking for permission either to landscape the disputed half-acre parcel or to buy it should have nullified Woodbridge’s claim of adverse possession. Woodbridge argues those letters were simply an effort to settle potential future legal disputes and did not demonstrate that Woodbridge’s use of the land was with the owner’s permission.

 

  • 12CA2407, People v. Fletcher: Keith Fletcher asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review his case after he was convicted of charges he sold and possessed methamphetamine and illegally owned a weapon. After Mr. Fletcher pleaded not guilty in the trial court, the judge refused to let him argue in his defense that a confidential informant induced him to sell drugs to the informant – after the informant had asked several times to buy the drugs. Colorado law says when a defendant denies a charge under oath, he or she may not use the defense of entrapment. However, Mr. Fletcher did not testify at his trial. The prosecution argues the fact he did not testify is irrelevant, and that previous court rulings have determined where there is a complete denial of the charges, a defendant may not assert the defense of entrapment.

 

Cases to be heard at Steamboat Springs High School are:

  • 15CA0959, Reishus v. Bullmasters: A group of individuals who jointly own a ranch in Rio Blanco County they use for hunting has asked the Court of Appeals to review a trial court’s ruling regarding the rules for amending the ownership agreement. The agreement allowed amendments by approval from at least seven-twelfths of the ownership interests. In 2011, seven-twelfths of the ownership interests voted to amend the agreement to reduce the hunting rights of those owners who had lesser ownership interests in the ranch. Those owners sued in District Court arguing that the other owners could not take away their rights to equal use and possession of the ranch as tenants-in-common without their consent. They argue the ownership of the ranch changed over time, and the agreement was binding only upon the owners who agreed to it. The District Court disagreed, finding the agreement bound all the successor owners.

 

  • 14CA2434, People v. Good: Prosecutors have asked the Court of Appeals to review a trial court’s dismissal of a drug case against Brian Good, who had been charged with possession and unlawful use of a controlled substance. He was charged after reporting to Moffat County Law Enforcement that he believed he had ingested poisoned methamphetamine. Mr. Good filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing he was immune from prosecution under a state law enacted to help encourage reporting of emergency drug overdoses. The central question in the appeal is whether Mr. Good was reporting a “drug overdose event” as defined by the law. The District Court concluded he was reporting an overdose event over the objection of prosecutors who argued that Mr. Good was merely reporting a potential crime – that the drugs he had bought were poisoned in an attempt to hurt him.

 

Proceedings at Glenwood Springs High School, 1521 Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 12; proceedings at Steamboat Springs High School, 45 E. Maple Street in Steamboat Springs, will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 14.

Question-and-answer sessions, during which the students may ask questions of the attorneys, will follow the arguments in each case. 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. Video 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 cases are located at: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Education/Materials.cfm?s=Spring&y=2016

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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