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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
June 25, 2012

2012 CO 49. No. 10SC832. People v. Padilla-Lopez.
CRS § 18-1.3-602—Criminal Case Restitution—“Victim”—Aggrieved by the Wrongful Conduct of the Offender—Elements of Underlying Offense—Department of Human Services.

The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ holding that the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) is not a “victim” entitled to restitution under CRS § 18-1.3-602(4)(a). Because DHS is not “aggrieved by” the crime of child abuse, the restitution statute does not allow DHS to recover costs it has expended in the course of fulfilling its statutorily mandated duty to provide necessary care and guidance to dependent and neglected children.

2012 CO 50. No. 11SC210. Accident and Injury Medical Specialists, P.C. v. Mintz.
Colo. RPC 1.15—Attorney’s Fiduciary Duties as Trustee of COLTAF Account.

The Supreme Court held that the medical providers in this case may not maintain a breach of fiduciary duty tort action against attorney David Mintz based on his obligations as trustee of a COLTAF account. Although Mintz may have had ethical or contractual obligations to disburse money his clients owed to the providers, Mintz did not owe the medical providers the duties of a fiduciary that give rise to tort liability. The judgment of the court of appeals was affirmed.

2012 CO 51. No. 12SA78. People v. Figueroa-Ortega.
Miranda Warnings—Custodial Interrogation.

The People brought an interlocutory appeal pursuant to CRS § 16-12-102(2) and CAR 4.1 challenging the district court’s suppression of statements made by defendant to a police detective. The district court found that the statements in question were the product of custodial interrogation, without the benefit of Miranda warnings. The Supreme Court reversed the suppression order of the district court, holding that because defendant was not in custody at the time he made the statements in question, no Miranda warnings were required.

2012 CO 52. No. 10SC532. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission v. Grand Valley Citizens’ Alliance.
Application for Permit to Drill—Hearings.

Grand Valley Citizens’ Alliance filed a complaint alleging it was entitled to a hearing on an application for permit to drill pursuant to CRS § 34-60-108(7) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s judgment, holding that under subsection 108(7), Grand Valley was entitled to a hearing because it had a filed a petition on a matter within the jurisdiction of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment, holding that § 34-60-108(7) requires a hearing only for rules, regulations, and orders. Permits are governed by CRS § 34-60-106(1)(f), which grants the Commission broad authority to promulgate rules governing the permitting process, including the authority to determine who may request a hearing.

2012 CO 53. No. 11SA164. Glustrom v. Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
Recovery of Costs—Unjust and Unreasonable Rate Order—“Used and Useful”—Exclusion of Testimony.

In 2005, with the approval of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel) began constructing a coal-fired electric power unit known as Comanche 3. When Xcel sought to recover a portion of its construction costs nearly four years later during a rate proceeding, Leslie Glustrom intervened. Glustrom sought to introduce testimony that Xcel acted improperly and, consequently, should not recover its costs. The PUC excluded most of her testimony, a ruling that Glustrom challenged. Glustrom separately challenged the depreciation rate and the possibility that Comanche 3 might not be “used and useful” at the time rates went into effect. The PUC denied her challenges, and the district court affirmed.

The Supreme Court held that the PUC did not abuse its discretion when it struck substantial portions of Glustrom’s testimony pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Evidence. Further, the depreciation rate approved by the PUC was established pursuant to law and in accordance with the evidence. The Court also held that the PUC was free to exercise its discretion in departing from a strict application of the “used and useful” principle. Glustrom failed to meet her burden in showing why such a departure here would result in a rate that is unjust and unreasonable in its consequences.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions