Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
April 11, 2011
No. 09SA118. Concerning the Application for Water Rights of Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District in Routt County: Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District v. Dequine Family, L.L.C.
Conditional Water Rights—Beneficial Use—Anti-speculation Doctrine.
The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District (District) appealed an order of the water court dismissing its application for a conditional water right. After presentation of the District’s case, the court granted opposer-appellee Dequine Family L.L.C.’s C.R.C.P. 41(b) motion and dismissed for failure of the District to establish a need for water in the claimed amount sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the anti-speculation doctrine.
The Supreme Court affirmed the water court’s judgment. The Court held that the District’s proof was insufficient to establish that it had made the required “first step” to obtain a conditional water right, because (1) its evidence of existing demands included contracts for stored water that had admittedly not yet been put to beneficial use and for which no specific plan for beneficial use was offered; and (2) the District made no attempt to demonstrate a reasonably anticipated future need based on projected population growth.
No. 09SC615. People v. Hernandez.
Criminal Law—Statutory Construction—Leaving the Scene of an Accident—Driver Must Identify Self as Driver.
Defendant was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident based solely on his failure to identify himself to authorities at the scene as the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. The court of appeals overturned defendant’s conviction, and the Supreme Court reversed. The Court held that CRS §§ 42-4-1601(1) and -1603(1) require the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to others to affirmatively identify himself or herself as the driver before leaving the scene, if that fact is not reasonably apparent from the circumstances. Any other construction would defeat the language and legislative purpose of the statutory provisions. The Court remanded the case to the court of appeals for consideration of defendant’s remaining appellate claims.
No. 10SA325. In re People v. Williamson.
Evidence—Rape Shield Statute—“Sexual Conduct.”
The Supreme Court held that evidence of past acts of solicitation of prostitution, even when no sexual contact or intercourse has occurred, is “sexual conduct” and thus protected under Colorado’s Rape Shield Statute, CRS § 18-3-407. Because the trial court found that such evidence was not protected under § 18-3-407, it did not follow the proper procedures for determining the admissibility of the evidence. Accordingly, the Court remanded the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing pursuant to § 18-3-407(2)(c) and for a determination as to the relevance and materiality of the evidence pursuant to § 18-3-407(2)(e). Because the procedures set forth in § 18-3-407(2) necessarily include all relevancy and materiality considerations, a separate analysis pursuant to C.R.E. 404(b) is unnecessary.
Nos. 10SA186, 10SA187, 10SA188, 10SA189 & 10SA190. People v. Gallegos; People v. Lopez; People v. Gallegos; People v. Santistevan; People v. Perez.
Fourth Amendment—Neutral and Detached Magistrate—Wiretapping.
The Supreme Court consolidated five interlocutory appeals by the People, each concerning the suppression of evidence obtained through wiretap surveillance. The five defendant-appellees joined in a motion to suppress evidence derived from illegal wiretaps, claiming that the orders authorizing wiretap surveillance were invalid because the judge who issued the orders did so while his son worked for the District Attorney’s Office. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, citing statutory and ethical rules of judicial conduct for its determination that the wiretap orders were void for lack of a detached and neutral magistrate. The trial court also found a number of violations of the wiretap statute and wiretap orders.
Because the suppression of evidence is governed foremost by constitutional principles, the Supreme Court held that the proper inquiry in a motion to suppress is not whether a magistrate should have recused himself or herself under rules of judicial conduct, but whether a magistrate manifested the neutrality and detachment demanded by the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, if a warrant or wiretap application is supported by probable cause, evidence should not be suppressed without proof of actual bias by the issuing magistrate. Actual bias is more than an appearance of impropriety; it is an actual conflict so substantial that the magistrate cannot be considered neutral and detached. Because the wiretap orders in this case were supported by probable cause, and because there was no evidence that the judge who issued the orders had an actual conflict, the Court held that the judge who issued the wiretap orders was a neutral and detached magistrate. Furthermore, the violations of the wiretap statute were not sufficient to warrant suppression. Therefore, the Court reversed the decision of the trial court.
Colorado Supreme Court Opinions