Summaries of Published Opinions, 0120 COBJ, Vol. 49, No. 1 Pg. 102

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49 Colo.Law. 102

Summaries of Published Opinions

Vol. 49, No. 1 [Page 102]

Colorado Lawyer

January, 2020

COLORADO SUPREME COURT

November 4, 2019

2019 CO 89. No. 14SC282. Melton v. People.

Proportionality Review—Per Se Grave or Serious Crimes—Habitual Criminal Punishment.

In this case and two companion cases, the Supreme Court considered multiple issues that lie at the intersection of proportionality review and habitual criminal punishment. Consistent with Wells-Yates v. People, the lead case, the Court held that: (1) possession of schedule I and II controlled substances is not per se grave or serious; and (2) in determining the gravity or seriousness of the triggering and predicate offenses during an abbreviated proportionality review, the court should consider any relevant legislative amendments enacted after the dates of those offenses, even if the amendments do not apply retroactively. Additionally, the Court held that theft is not a per se grave or serious offense.

Because the Court of Appeals reached different conclusions, its judgment was reversed. And, because additional factual determinations are necessary to properly address defendant's proportionality challenge, the case was remanded with instructions to return it to the trial court for a new proportionality review.

2019 CO 90. No. 16SC592. Wells-Yates v. People.

Proportionality Review—Per Se Grave or Serious Crimes—Habitual Criminal Punishment.

In this case and two companion cases, the Supreme Court considered multiple issues that lie at the intersection of proportionality review and habitual criminal punishment. In the process, the Court endeavored to shed light on these areas of the law and to correct a few misstatements that appear in the case law.

The Court held that: (1) during an abbreviated proportionality review of a habitual criminal sentence, the court must consider each triggering offense and the predicate offenses together and determine whether, in combination, they are so lacking in gravity or seriousness as to raise an inference that the sentence imposed on that triggering offense is grossly disproportionate; (2) in determining the gravity or seriousness of the triggering offense and the predicate offenses, the court should consider any relevant legislative amendments enacted after the dates of those offenses, even if the amendments do not apply retroactively; (3) not all narcotic offenses are per se grave or serious; and (4) the narcotic offenses of possession and possession with intent are not per se grave or serious. Because the Court of Appeals' decision is at odds with this opinion, its...

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