The summaries of Colorado Court of Appeals published opinions are written for the CBA by licensed attorneys Teresa Wilkins (Englewood) and Paul Sachs (Steamboat Springs). They are provided as a service by the CBA; are not the official language of the Court; and are available only in The Colorado Lawyer and on the CBA website, www.cobar.org (click on "Opinions/Rules/Statutes"). The CBA cannot guarantee their accuracy or completeness. The full opinions, the lists of opinions not selected for official publication, the petitions for rehearing, and the modified opinions are available both on the CBA website and on the Colorado Judicial Branch website, www.courts.state.co.us (click on "Courts/Court of Appeals/Case Announcements").
Colorado Court of Appeals
April 7, 2016
2016 COA 47. No. 12CA0889. People v. Anderson. First Degree Assault—Double Jeopardy —Attempted Extreme Indifference First Degree Murder.
When a police officer pulled over Anderson's car, Anderson got out of his car and fired multiple bullets at the officer's patrol car. One bullet hit the officer's arm, wounding him. As Anderson attempted to reload his gun, the officer shot Anderson twice, ending the incident. The evidence at trial established that Anderson and the officer were the only people on the road. A jury found Anderson guilty of attempted extreme indifference first degree murder; first degree assault, threatening a peace officer with a weapon; first degree assault, serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon; and first degree assault, extreme indifference. The trial court sentenced Anderson to 48 years in the custody of the Department of Corrections for the attempted extreme indifference murder conviction, and to a concurrent sentence of 30 years on the first degree assault (extreme indifference) conviction. It also imposed consecutive sentences of 30 years on the two remaining first degree assault convictions, for a total of 108 years.
On appeal, Anderson contended that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of attempted extreme indifference murder. Even if defendant meant only to effect his own suicide by provoking the officer to shoot him, Anderson's knowing and voluntary acts of firing numerous gunshots at the officer permit his conviction for attempted extreme indifference murder. However, when a defendant's conduct does not endanger more than one person, as here, the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction for attempted extreme indifference first degree murder.
Anderson next contended that he should receive a single first degree assault conviction and sentence because his three sentences for first degree assault violate double jeopardy. CRS § 18-3-202(1) establishes a single offense of first degree assault with alternative means of commission. Here, because there was one victim and one act, Anderson may be convicted and sentenced for first degree assault under CRS § 18-3-202(1) only once.
The judgment and sentence were affirmed in part and vacated in part, and the case was remanded.
2016 COA 48. No. 13CA0295. People v. Williams. CRE 404(b)—Common Plan—Modus Operandi —Other Acts Evidence—Identity.
Defendant was charged with distribution of cocaine after a police informant purchased rock cocaine from him. Before trial, the prosecution filed a CRE 404(b) motion requesting the court's permission to present evidence of a drug deal defendant was involved in that occurred about three months before the events in this case. The court granted the motion, and thereafter, a jury convicted defendant of distributing cocaine.
On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the prior drug deal to show that he had a distinctive modus operandi or that the two drug deals were part of a common plan. In cases that do not involve sexual assault or domestic violence, uncharged misconduct evidence offered to prove modus operandi is only admissible to prove that the defendant was the person who committed the crime. Here, defendant did not deny that he was the person with whom the informant met, so his identity was not at issue and was not a material fact. The uncharged misconduct of the prior drug deal was not relevant independent of the impermissible inference, prohibited by CRE 404(b), that defendant had bad character. Therefore, the trial court should not have admitted evidence of the prior drug deal. Furthermore, there was no evidence that the two drug deals were part of a common plan. Because this error was not harmless, the judgment of conviction was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court for a new trial.
2016 COA 49. No. 14CA0231. In re the Estate of Sandstead.
Surcharge—Non-Probate Funds Fiduciary—In Terr or em Clause—Attorney Fees.
Vicki Sandstead (Sandstead) and Shauna Sandstead Corona (Corona) disagreed about matters relating to their deceased parents' (William and Auriel Sandstead) former property. Corona filed this action, and the court thereafter entered orders regarding the parents' wills and revocable trust.
On appeal, Sandstead contended that the district court erred by surcharging her for actions related to the farm sales proceeds, which were placed in joint bank accounts before Auriel's death, because that money was not estate property. The Court of Appeals agreed. By law, the farm sale proceeds were never estate funds. Therefore, the court could not surcharge Sandstead for her expenditure of those funds.
Sandstead also contended that the district court erred by surcharging her for actions she took before the court appointed her personal representative (PR) of the estate. The district court ruled it could surcharge Sandstead because she acted as a fiduciary as both her mother's agent under a durable power of attorney and as a trustee of an implied trust regarding money in joint bank accounts. The Court found there was no evidence Sandstead acted pursuant to a power of attorney regarding farm sale proceeds and there was no basis in the record for imposing or finding an implied trust regarding the farm sale proceeds. Before her appointment as PR, Sandstead was not a fiduciary of the estate. Thus, surcharging her for the estate's benefit for acts prior to her appointment (and that related to non-estate funds) was not allowed by CRS § 15-10-504. Therefore, the district court erred by surcharging her for actions she took before she was appointed as PR.
Corona argued that the district court erred in enforcing the in terrorem clause to preclude her from benefiting under Auriel's 2000 will. Because Corona did not have probable cause to challenge the validity of the will, the district court did not err in enforcing the in terrorem clause.
The order awarding Corona attorney fees and costs under CRS § 15-10-504(2)(a) was reversed, and the case was remanded for recalculation of surcharges based on Sandstead's actions relating to estate property only while she served as PR, and to reconsider the award of attorney fees.
2016 COA 50. No. 14CA1337. People v. Yoder. Mandatory Protection Order—Conditions—CRS § 18-1-1001.
Defendant was charged in three cases with various drug, driving, and other crimes. In each case, the district court issued a Mandatory Protection Order (MPO), which prohibited defendant from (1) engaging in harassing or similar behavior or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged; (2) using certain drugs; and (3) driving without a valid driver's license. Defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to some of the charges, and the court continued the conditions of the MPOs until defendant completed his sentences.
On appeal, defendant contended that the MPOs are invalid generally because the cases did not involve any victims or witnesses who needed protection. At the sentencing hearing, defense counsel specifically stated that he was not objecting to the "standard protection order[s]," but was only objecting to the specific conditions regarding marijuana and driving. Therefore, this argument was waived.
Defendant also contended that the district court lacked the statutory authority to impose the conditions in the MPOs prohibiting defendant from possessing or using drugs and driving without a valid driver's license. CRS § 18-1-1001(3) provides broad authority to modify an MPO and applies generally to every MPO issued in a Title 18 case. Thus, the drug and driving conditions in the MPOs at issue did not violate CRS § 18-1-1001.
The sentences were affirmed.
2016 COA 51. No. 14CA2073. Campaign Integrity Watchdog v. Coloradans for a Better Future.
This is the fourth in a series of complaints brought by claimant...