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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
December 3, 2012

2012 CO 71. No. 12SA47. Archuleta v. Gomez.
Water Law—Adverse Possession of Legal Interest in Water—Enlargement of Consumptive Use—Injunction—Costs—CRCP 54(d)—Attorney Fees—CRS § 13-17-102(4).

In this adverse possession dispute, neighboring property owners Ralph Archuleta and Theodore Gomez argued over legal interests in water and easement rights for three ditches diverting water from the Huerfano River in the Arkansas River Basin. The Archuleta Ditch extends across Gomez’s upper (westernmost) parcel of irrigated land but does not reach Gomez’s nonadjacent lower parcel or Archuleta’s parcel, which lies immediately to the east of Gomez’s lower parcel. Manzanares Ditch No. 1 cuts across the southeastern corner of Gomez’s lower parcel and the southern part of Archuleta’s parcel. Manzanares Ditch No. 2 runs across the northern part of Gomez’s lower parcel and previously extended to the northern part of Archuleta’s adjoining parcel until Gomez plowed it under, severing the connection to Archuleta’s property. 

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the water court in part, concluding that (1) Gomez adversely possessed Archuleta’s legal interests in the Archuleta Ditch and Manzanares Ditch No. 1; (2) awarding costs to Gomez was within the trial court’s discretion under CRCP 54(d); and (3) each party was responsible for its own attorney fees because the water court could reasonably find that Archuleta’s position in the litigation was not substantially frivolous, groundless, or vexatious pursuant to CRS § 13-17-102(4). Because Gomez wrongfully interfered with Archuleta’s water and easement rights for Manzanares Ditch No. 2 and enlarged the use of that ditch’s water, the Court reversed the water court’s judgment in part, directing it to enter an injunction for reconstruction of Manzanares Ditch No. 2 and an easement across the northern part of Gomez’s lower parcel to Archuleta’s adjoining parcel, so that Archuleta will receive the flow of water his legal interest in this ditch entitles him to divert.  

2012 CO 72. No. 12SA215. People v. Marshall.
Fourth Amendment—Arizona v. Gant—Warrantless Search.

The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order suppressing contraband obtained during the search of defendant’s backpack. The search was lawful under People v. Boff, 766 P.2d 646, 651-52 (Colo. 1988), because it was the search of a container on or near defendant incident to his lawful arrest. The trial court erroneously held that Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 351 (2009), modified the well-established Boff rule. Because Gant did not modify the well-established rule regarding searches incident to a lawful arrest, the trial court erred by suppressing the evidence found in the backpack.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions