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Megan Parocha fled from New Jersey to Colorado to escape her abusive spouse. Her husband, who knew that she had come to join her family in Colorado, contacted her almost daily. When she expressed reservations about returning to New Jersey, the frequency and tone of his contact intensified. He called her, emailed her, and texted her repeatedly, and she felt threatened. When Megan sought a civil protection order, her husband claimed that Colorado courts had no jurisdiction to offer her this protection because he was an absent non-resident. This case presented the Colorado Supreme Court the first opportunity to address whether and when a civil protection order was available to a victim of alleged domestic abuse who comes to Colorado seeking refuge from a non-resident. The Court concluded an out-of-state party’s harassment of, threatening of, or attempt to coerce an individual known by the non-resident to be located in Colorado was a tortious act sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction under the state’s long-arm statute, section 13-1-124, C.R.S. (2017). The Court also concluded such conduct created a sufficient nexus between the out-of-state party and Colorado to satisfy the requisite minimum contacts such that the exercise of jurisdiction by a Colorado court to enter a protection order comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. View "Parocha v. Parocha" on Justia Law

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Appellee David Ehrnstein was convicted by jury of incest against L.E. He filed a motion for a new trial, alleging that one of his trial prosecutors and the victim advocate in his case had instructed L.E. to avoid a defense subpoena. Prior to holding a hearing on that motion, the trial court found that it was compelled by the rules of professional conduct to appoint a special prosecutor for purposes of the hearing. Pursuant to sections 16-12-102(2) and 20-1-107(3), C.R.S. (2017), the district attorney filed an interlocutory appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, which was faced with deciding whether the trial court abused its discretion in appointing the special prosecutor. The Court concluded the trial court abused its discretion because it misapplied the law when it concluded that Colo. RPC 3.7 required the appointment of a special prosecutor for purposes of the hearing on the new trial motion in this case. View "Colorado v. Ehrnstein" on Justia Law

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The Jim Hutton Educational Foundation, a surface-water user, claimed that a statute prohibiting any challenge to a designated groundwater basin that would alter the basin’s boundaries to exclude a permitted well was unconstitutional. The water court dismissed that claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the surface-water user had to first satisfy the Colorado Groundwater Commission that the water at issue was not designated groundwater. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed that dismissal, because jurisdiction vests in the water court only if the Colorado Groundwater Commission first concludes that the water at issue is designated groundwater. Therefore, the water court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Foundation's claim. View "Jim Hutton Educ. Found. v. Rein" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the City of Aspen adopted an ordinance which imposed a regulatory scheme designed to meet the city council’s “duty to protect the natural environment and the health of its citizens and visitors.” Under the ordinance, grocery stores within Aspen’s city limits were prohibited from providing disposable plastic bags to customers, though they could still provide paper bags to customers, but each bag is subject to a $0.20 “waste reduction fee,” unless the customer was a participant in a “Colorado Food Assistance Program.” This case presented the question of whether Aspen’s $0.20 paper bag charge was a tax subject to voter approval under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”). The trial court held that this charge was not subject to TABOR because it was not a tax, but a fee. The court of appeals concurred with this holding. The Colorado Supreme Court also agreed, finding the bag charge was not a tax subject to TABOR. View "Colorado Union of Taxpayers Found. v City of Aspen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for murder in the first degree and other offenses, affirmed the trial judge’s order denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial, and declined to reduce or set aside Defendant’s convictions under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. During trial, the defense attorney failed to adhere to the judge’s courtroom rules, made inappropriate comments in the presence of the jury, and interrupted the judge on multiple occasions. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the judge’s admonishments to defense counsel were well within the judge’s authority, and the judge’s jury instructions mitigated any potential prejudice that might have resulted from the jury observing the disputes; (2) the reconstruction of a missing portion of the record was proper and adequate; (3) there was no evidentiary error; and (4) any purported error in the Commonwealth’s closing statement was not prejudicial. Further, the Court declined to exercise its section 33E power based on friction generated as a result of the judge having to rein in defense counsel’s inappropriate courtroom conduct. View "Commonwealth v. Imbert" on Justia Law

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Christopher Szorcsik was convicted by jury of malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault in connection with the 2007 stabbing death of Richard Bentley. On appeal, Szorcsik contended: (1) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the verdict; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain statements that he made to police; (3) the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on the rule of sequestration and voluntary manslaughter; and (4) that his trial attorneys were ineffective for failing to request a jury charge on voluntary manslaughter. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Szorcsik's convictions. View "Szorcsik v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In 1977, Carzell Moore was convicted of the rape and murder of Teresa Allen, and sentenced to death. In a federal habeas corpus case, Moore was granted a new sentencing proceeding. In the course of the new state sentencing proceeding, the State filed notice of its intent to seek the death penalty; Moore moved in the trial court to bar the State from seeking the death penalty, the trial court denied the motion, and this Court affirmed. In 2002, assisted by counsel, Moore pled guilty to rape and malice murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In 2017, acting pro se, Moore filed a motion for an out-of-time appeal, alleging that the sentence of life without the possibility of parole was void, that his sentence contravened public policy, and that counsel who represented him during the 2002 plea and sentencing hearing was ineffective; Moore also moved that venue be changed to the Superior Court of Monroe County, which was granted. In September 2017, addressing Moore’s motion for an out-of-time appeal, the Superior Court of Monroe County denied the motion, finding that Moore had elected to enter his guilty pleas and accept a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole after discussing the matter with counsel “for some time prior to the hearing.” The court also found that the sentence was not a void sentence, did not contravene public policy, and that Moore was not prejudiced by the sentence, as the State intended to seek the death penalty and Moore benefitted from the pleas by not having to face it. Moore did not file a notice of appeal of the September 2017 order; rather, in October 2017, he filed in the trial court what he styled an “Amended Motion for Out of Time Appeal.” The court rejected the motion, finding that it was untimely in light of the trial court’s September 20, 2017 denial of the initial motion; as to the merits, the court also ruled that there was no violation of Moore’s due process rights during the 2002 hearing, and that Moore’s 2002 trial counsel was not ineffective. Moore appealed the rejection of his “Amended Motion for Out of Time Appeal.” Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the rejection of Moore's Out of Time Appeal. View "Moore v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Qutravius Palmer and his codefendant Zion Wainwright were convicted of murder and other crimes in connection with the December 2013 shooting death of Xavier Arnold. On appeal, Palmer argued the trial court erred by failing to order an unprompted evaluation of his competency to stand trial and by denying his motion to sever the codefendants’ trials. He also argued his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Palmer v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Antonio Faust was convicted for various crimes related to the 2013 kidnapping of Michael Pippins and the shooting death of David McMillan, III. Appellant’s sole enumeration of error is that the State failed to prove venue beyond a reasonable doubt in regard to the crimes appellant committed against Pippins. The Georgia Supreme Court determined the jury was authorized to infer that a DeKalb County Officer who responded to the 911 call, and DeKalb County Officer who was the lead investigator of the crimes against Pippins, acted within the scope of their territorial jurisdiction. Accordingly, sufficient evidence existed for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the crimes against Pippins were committed in DeKalb County. As such, venue was proper, and Faust's conviction was affirmed. View "Faust v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Marvin Manning was charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, and other offenses arising out of the shooting death of Jimmy Sims. The jury found Manning not guilty of malice murder but found him guilty of the remaining charges. According to appellant, because the trial court lumped all the charges against him together when instructing the jury on how to determine guilt or innocence, and did not instruct the jury to make a separate determination regarding guilt or innocence with respect to each of the counts against him, the instructions were confusing and harmful, and were erroneous as a matter of law. Viewing the charges as a whole, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded the manner in which the trial court instructed the jury was not confusing with respect to whether the jury was to make a determination of guilt on each individual count of the indictment, and thus the Court found the instruction was not erroneous. This was further evidenced by the fact that the jury found appellant not guilty of malice murder as charged in Count 1 of the indictment but found him guilty on the remaining counts. Accordingly, appellant failed to establish that the alleged error in the jury instruction as a whole likely affected the outcome of the proceedings. View "Manning v. Georgia" on Justia Law