Summaries of Published Opinions, 0921 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 8 Pg. 86

PositionVol. 50, 8 [Page 86]

50 Colo.Law. 86

Summaries of Published Opinions

Vol. 50, No. 8 [Page 86]

Colorado Lawyer

September, 2021

August, 2021

2021 CO 36. No. 20SA103. San Isabel Electric Ass'n, Inc. v. Public Utilities Commission.

Public Utility Law—Station Power—Vertically Integrated Utility.

The Supreme Court addressed whether a rural cooperative electric association's certificates of public convenience and necessity (CPCNs)—which grant the association the exclusive right to provide electric service in its certificated area—encompass the right to provide station power to the electric generation facilities of a vertically integrated utility capable of self-supplying such power. The Court held that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regularly pursued its authority in concluding that the association does not have such a right under its CPCNs and that the vertically integrated utility may self-supply station power using its own electric generation resources. The Court further held that, because the association had no property right to supply station power to the vertically integrated utility, the PUC s decision did not amount to a taking of property without due process. The Court thus affirmed the district court's judgment upholding the PUC's ruling.

2021 CO 37. No. 21SA146. In re Interrogatories on Senate Bill 21-247 Submitted by the Colorado General Assembly.

Questions Submitted by the Legislature—Apportionment—Separation of Powers.

The Supreme Court exercised its original jurisdiction to review interrogatories propounded by the General Assembly regarding the constitutionality of proposed Senate Bill 21-247. The interrogatories ask (1) whether the General Assembly can add and amend various terms to the Colorado Revised Statutes instructing the independent redistricting commissions established under Colo. Const. art. V, §§ 44 to 48.4, to take certain actions to account for census data delays; and (2) whether the General Assembly can require courts to apply a "substantial compliance" standard in any legal action challenging the redistricting commissions' compliance with the technical, but not substantive, requirements of Colo. Const, art. V, §§ 44 to 48.4.

The Court answered both interrogatories in the negative. First, while nothing in the Constitution forbids the commissions from taking die actions suggested by Senate Bill 21-247, the independent commissions were established by voters specifically to remove authority from die General Assembly over the redistricting process. Thus, the General Assembly does not have the authority to direct the independent commissions to interpret constitutional terms a certain way or to take any action beyond what Colo. Const, art. V, §§ 44 to 48.4, already require. Second, die General Assembly does not have die authority to define the standard that applies to constitutional challenges; that power lies within die sole province of the judiciary. Accordingly, Senate Bill 21-247 would be unconstitutional if enacted.

2021 CO 38. No. 20SC314. People in the Interest of S.A.G.

Dependency and Neglect—Termination of Parental Rights—Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

At the end of a dependency and neglect case, a juvenile court terminated parents' legal relationship with their son. A Court of Appeals division vacated the termination order, holding that the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Uniform Child-Custody jurisdiction and Enforcement Act's (UCC1EA) temporary emergency and non-emergency jurisdiction provisions. Further, die division held that, to acquire non-emergency jurisdiction on remand, die juvenile court must ask an Arkansas court to decline jurisdiction.

In keeping with the plain language of the statute, the Supreme Court held that UCC1EA temporary emergency jurisdiction exists only to protect abandoned children or to prevent mistreatment or abuse in emergencies. The juvenile court did not have temporary emergency jurisdiction when it terminated parental rights here because S.A.G was not then abandoned and no emergency then existed. Thus, the division properly vacated the termination judgment. However, the division erred by requiring the juvenile court to communicate with an Arkansas court without further analysis. Because it is possible but not certain that Arkansas had home-state jurisdiction over S.A.G. on die date of die termination order, die juvenile court should have conducted a full analysis of its non-emergency jurisdiction, including the requisite fact-finding. The results of that analysis will dictate whether the juvenile court must contact an Arkansas court on remand.

The judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

2021 CO 39. No. 20SC498. People in the Interest of B.H.

Dependency and Neglect—Termination of Parental Rights—Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act—Right to Counsel in Termination Proceedings—Elimination of Less Drastic Alternatives to Termination.

Father directly appealed a district court order terminating his parental relationship with his son, asserting that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under die Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Because die record suggests die existence of a prior child-custody determination in Indiana, the termination order must be vacated and die case remanded for additional jurisdictional fact-finding.

Father also argued that the district court violated his right to counsel by requiring him to proceed pro se at the termination hearing. The Court concluded that the right to due process did not require the appointment of a third attorney because the risk of an erroneous deprivation of his parental rights was low. Further, father voluntarily waived his statutory right to counsel through his obstreperous and dilatory conduct.

Finally, father argued that die district court abused its discretion when it found that the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services had made reasonable efforts to reunite his family. However, the Court found no abuse of discretion.

The judgment was affirmed in part and vacated in part, and the case was remanded for additional jurisdictional fact-finding. If the district court acquires jurisdiction, it may reinstate the termination judgment based on the existing record. The district court may, but need not, appoint counsel for father.

2021 CO 40. No. 20SC438. DePriest v. People.

Grounds for Dismissal—Mootness—Collateral Consequences.

In this opinion, the Supreme Court reviewed an order of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals summarily granting the People's motion to dismiss defendant's appeal from the revocation of his deferred judgment and sentence as moot.

The Court held that the appeal is not moot. If defendant prevails in his appeal, his conviction would be vacated, his deferred judgment and sentence would be reinstated, and any sentences resulting from the improperly imposed conviction would be reversed. Because defendant faces direct and collateral consequences from the revocation of his deferred judgment and sentence and the entry of the judgment of conviction, the division erred in dismissing his appeal as moot.

Accordingly, the order of dismissal was vacated and the case was remanded to the Court of Appeals to proceed with the appeal on the merits.

June 7, 2021

2021 CO 41. No. 19SC819. People v. Mosely.

Jury Unanimity—Self-Defense—Due Process.

The Supreme Court addressed whether a jury must unanimously agree on which component of self-defense the prosecution has disproven when a defendant raises self-defense as an affirmative defense to the charged crime. The Court held that, because a defendant has a right only to a unanimous general verdict, the jury need not also unanimously agree on the specific reason that self-defense was disproven, so long as it unanimously agrees that the prosecution disproved self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court thus reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment and remanded the case for reinstatement of defendant's conviction.

2021 CO 42. No. 20SC251. People v. Lavadie.

Constitutional Law—Sixth Amendment—Right to Self-Representation.

The Supreme Court held that, in deciding whether a defendant may exercise the right to self-representation, the trial court must first consider whether the totality of the circumstances demonstrates that the defendant has voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived die right to counsel. Only if die totality of the circumstances supports a valid waiver of the right to counsel can the defendant exercise die right to self-representation.

The Court held that, while a trial court would do better to warn defendants that their lack of cooperation or obstreperous behavior during an...

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