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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
May 27, 2014

2014 CO 37. No. 12SC104. Town of Dillon, Colorado v. Yacht Club Condominiums Home Owners Association.
Homeowners Association—Municipal Corporations—Police Power and Regulations—Constitutional Law—Due Process.

The Supreme Court considered whether a municipality may constitutionally exercise its police powers to undertake a road improvement project that eliminates parking on the municipality’s rights-of-way near a condominium. An ordinance comports with due process where it bears a reasonable relationship to a legitimate government interest. This inquiry turns on the reasonableness of the relationship between the ordinance and the government objectives to be achieved—not the burden on the complaining party or the availability of less burdensome alternatives. The Court held that the ordinances in this case were a reasonable exercise of the municipality’s police power because they were reasonably related to the municipality’s objectives of improving traffic safety, improving water drainage, and remedying a missing portion of a recreational bike path. Accordingly, the Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remanded the case to the court of appeals for further proceedings.

2014 CO 38. No. 12SC276. Finney v. People.
Criminal Law—Sentencing and Punishment—Alternative Dispositions—Pre-Sentence Penalty Advisements at Revocation Hearings.

CRS § 16-11-206 requires a court to advise a probationer, at or before a hearing on a revocation complaint, of the possible penalties he or she may face. Here, the Supreme Court considered whether, to satisfy due process, Crim.P. 11(b) independently requires such an advisement. The record demonstrates that defendant waived his statutory right to a penalty advisement under CRS § 16-11-206. The Court concluded that, even if defendant had not waived his statutory right to an advisement, the requirement of CRS § 16-11-206 was met here because defendant was advised on several occasions of the potential penalties he faced. The Court further held that CRS § 16-11-206 does not incorporate Crim.P. 11(b) or otherwise embody a constitutional right to be advised of the possible penalties when a defendant admits to a violation of a deferred judgment agreement. Thus, where, as here, a defendant waives his or her statutory right under CRS § 16-11-206 to a penalty advisement at a revocation hearing, neither Crim.P. 11(b) nor constitutional due process independently requires such an advisement. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeals’ decision upholding the trial court’s denial of post-conviction relief.

2014 CO 39. No. 13SA235. People v. McIntyre.
Suppression of Statements—Voluntariness and Coercion.

In this interlocutory appeal, the People sought review of the trial court’s order suppressing inculpatory statements made by defendant. The trial court found that defendant did not voluntarily make the statements. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, when considering the totality of the circumstances, the police did not improperly coerce defendant into making the statements and defendant instead spoke voluntarily. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s suppression order and remanded the case to the trial court.

2014 CO 40. No. 12SC1002. Robinson v. Legro.
Civil Actions Against Dog Owners—Working Dog Exemption—Statutory Interpretation.

The Supreme Court interpreted for the first time the phrase “on the property of or under the control of the dog’s owner” within the working dog exemption of Colorado’s civil dog bite statute, CRS § 13-21-124(5)(f). The Court held that the working dog exemption applies when a bite occurs on the dog owner’s property or when the dog is working under the control of the dog owner. Therefore, the court of appeals erred in interpreting CRS § 13-21-124(5)(f) to mean that the property, rather than the dog, must be under the dog owner’s control for purposes of exemption from strict liability. Although the court of appeals erred in interpreting the statute, it correctly reversed the district court’s summary judgment order as to respondents’ claim under the dog bite statute. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.

2014 CO 41. No. 14SA18. People v. Begay.
Miranda Advisement—Custodial Interrogation—Suppression of Statements.

In this interlocutory appeal, the People challenged the trial court’s order suppressing statements defendant made while waiting for a “show-up” identification and before having received a Miranda advisement,. The trial court trial noted that whether a defendant is in custody is an objective assessment; however, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person would not have believed that he or she was free to leave that situation.

The People conceded that defendant’s questioning constituted interrogation, but they contended that he was not in custody until he was formally arrested. They argued that the trial court erred by applying the wrong legal standard when it analyzed whether defendant felt “free to leave” instead of whether a reasonable person in defendant’s position would have believed himself to be deprived of his freedom to a degree associated with a formal arrest.

The Supreme Court agreed, finding that defendant was not in custody for the purposes of Miranda until he was formally arrested and read his Miranda rights. The trial court erred by suppressing the statements after applying the standard governing seizure under the Fourth Amendment instead of custody under the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly, the trial court’s suppression order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions