Legal Issues

Update 10-23-17: The Colorado Attorney General's Office has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Deep Green Resistance on behalf of the Colorado River ecosystem. The story has been updated to reflect this development.

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A few months ago Denver civil rights lawyer Jason Flores-Williams had an idea. He’s made a name for himself recently in a class action lawsuit against the city of Denver where he’s representing the city’s homeless people.

“A lot of times I meet with class members, I take them out to dinner because they’re starving,” he said.

While at a Denver Mexican restaurant, the group started talking about homelessness. One of his homeless clients piped up.

“In an off the cuff, offhand comment [he] said, ‘the only thing more homeless than the homeless is nature,’” Flores-Williams recalled.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

From PTSD to traumatic brain injuries, the invisible wounds of war can be just as devastating as the physical ones. And for some, that service-related trauma can lead to other issues, including problems with the law. In Colorado's 4th Judicial District, which encompasses El Paso and Teller Counties, there’s a court program designed for vets with trauma who've been charged with certain misdemeanors and low-level felonies. It's called the Veterans Trauma Court, and it was recently recognized as a national leader among similar programs around the country.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Colorado is ramping up efforts to try and prevent marijuana from being diverted to the black market. Governor John Hickenlooper signed two bi-partisan bills into law Thursday. 

Brian Turner / Flickr / Creative Commons

Colorado’s 4th Judicial District is being recognized for the work of its Veterans Trauma Court. The court serves vets in El Paso and Teller Counties, and has been selected as one of four “mentor” courts around the country.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Advocates say Senate Bill 40 does something simple: It brings the Colorado Open Records Act into the 21st century by requiring state agencies to provide information in a digital format , such as a database or a spreadsheet, where feasible.

"These are the people's records. We are the custodians, we are the stewards of these records," said Democratic Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins. He's the main sponsor of the bill.

For some, the issue is more complicated.

COLORADO SENATE REPUBLICANS

A Colorado newspaper is fighting claims that it peddles fake news stories. The publisher of Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel is accusing a state lawmaker of defamation and threatening a lawsuit. If filed, legal experts said it would be the first of its kind, potentially setting a legal definition for what is considered fake news and what is not.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

In the last decade, Democrats have attempted to repeal Colorado's death penalty four times. Their latest attempt on Feb. 15 was amid contentious debate.

For decades the same test has been used to convict drunk drivers.

Police ask a driver to stand on one leg, walk a straight line and recite the alphabet. If the driver fails, the officer will testify in court to help make a case for driving under the influence.

But defense lawyers argue, science has yet to prove that flunking the standard field sobriety test actually means that a person is high, the way it's been proven to measure drunkenness.

So, as attorney Rebecca Jacobstein argued to the Massachusetts high court, the tests shouldn't be allowed in evidence.

Holly Pretsky / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado Springs City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass an ordinance that makes it illegal to stand on certain city medians. 

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Opponents of a controversial land exchange are appealing a judge's decision to dismiss their lawsuit seeking to stop the transfer of a parcel of public land known as Strawberry Fields to the Broadmoor Hotel. The appeal was filed Thursday afternoon.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Attorneys with Colorado Springs-based McDivitt Law and New York firm Napoli Shkolnik are calling on the Colorado Department of Health to help pay for blood testing for people living in areas where perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, have been detected above safe levels. 

Jake Brownell / KRCC

A Denver-based law firm has filed a class action suit on behalf of residents in Security, Widefield, and Fountain over drinking water contamination.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

A local group is suing the city of Colorado Springs to try and stop a controversial land exchange with the Broadmoor hotel. The deal, which was approved in May, would see the city trade a 189-acre section of Cheyenne Canyon known as Strawberry Fields for several parcels of land owned by the Broadmoor. 

Staff Photo / El Paso County

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has been indicted by a grand jury on nine counts, including six felony charges and three misdemeanors.  Also named in the indictment are former Undersheriff Paula Presley on all nine charges, as well as former Commander Juan "John" San Agustin on two counts.

Charges include extortion, tampering with a witness or victim, second degree kidnapping, false imprisonment, and official misconduct.

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A jury has found the Life Care Center of Pueblo and its Tennessee-based parent company negligent in the death of Sophia Alcon. According to Brent Moss, Alcon family attorney, Ms. Alcon, 77, spent several months at the center before her death in 2013. He says she experienced bruising, weight loss, and a urinary tract infection among other issues during her residence there.

Debtors' prisons have long been illegal in the United States. But many courts across the country still send people to jail when they can't pay their court fines. Last year, the Justice Department stepped in to stop the practice in Ferguson, Mo. And now, in a first, a U.S. city will pay out thousands of dollars to people who were wrongly sent to jail.

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A bill is making its way through the statehouse that would allow judges to reexamine the cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that it is unconstitutional for minors to have no possibility of parole except in the most extraordinary circumstances.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the city of Longmont's hydraulic fracturing ban and the moratorium in Fort Collins Monday. The state's highest court said that Longmont's ban conflicts with state law and is invalid and unenforceable. The court ruled that state law also preempts the moratorium in Fort Collins.

Holly Pretsky / KRCC

 
According to a 2015 survey by a local advocacy group, there are more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs. In the city, a new law that some say targets the homeless has now entered its enforcement phase.


Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr/Creative Commons

A bill that would allow people to collect rain that falls from their rooftops remains hung up in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee after the chair said he wasn't comfortable with the measure. It's not clear when the committee will vote on it.

The same thing happened last year when the rain barrel bill vote was delayed. And while the bill eventually cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee over the objections of the Republican chair, it failed on the final day of the 2015 legislative session when time ran out.

91.5 KRCC

Several police reform measures are making their way through the statehouse, and lawmakers are also looking at how best to address the problem of sexting among teenagers.

More than a year after Nebraska and Oklahoma sought to sue Colorado over the carry-over effects of that state's law making recreational marijuana legal, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the two states' complaint.

The court did not explain its decision, with which Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas disagreed. Thomas wrote a five-page dissent in which Alito joined (a reminder: the court is currently at eight members).

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps the leading voice of uncompromising conservatism on the nation's highest court, was found dead Saturday, Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed. Scalia, who had been staying at a luxury ranch in West Texas, was 79 years old.

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