State Appeals Court visits Glenwood High School
CASES TO BE HEARD
15CA0285, Woodbridge v. Lo Viento Blanco: Lo Viento Blanco has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review a trial court’s decision granting a one-half-acre parcel of land near the Snowmass ski area to the Woodbridge Homeowner’s Association through a process called adverse possession. In adverse possession, a person acquires the land of another if that person uses the land for an uninterrupted 18-year period without the landowner’s permission. Woodbridge had been using and maintaining the parcel since 1975, and Lo Viento Blanco bought the land in 2010. Lo Viento argues that letters Woodbridge sent to the former landowner in 1991 and 1992 asking for permission either to landscape the disputed half-acre parcel or to buy it should have nullified Woodbridge’s claim of adverse possession. Woodbridge argues those letters were simply an effort to settle potential future legal disputes and did not demonstrate that Woodbridge’s use of the land was with the owner’s permission.
12CA2407, People v. Fletcher: Keith Fletcher asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review his case after he was convicted of charges he sold and possessed methamphetamine and illegally owned a weapon. After Mr. Fletcher pleaded not guilty in the trial court, the judge refused to let him argue in his defense that a confidential informant induced him to sell drugs to the informant – after the informant had asked several times to buy the drugs. Colorado law says when a defendant denies a charge under oath, he or she may not use the defense of entrapment. However, Mr. Fletcher did not testify at his trial. The prosecution argues the fact he did not testify is irrelevant, and that previous court rulings have determined where there is a complete denial of the charges, a defendant may not assert the defense of entrapment.
Glenwood Springs High School students will have a rare opportunity today to observe as a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals meets at their school to hear oral arguments in a pair of actual cases.
The students will also be able to ask questions of the attorneys and the three-judge panel following the conclusion of the hearings.
The high school visit is part of the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Courts in the community outreach program established by the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals on Law Day (May 1), 1986.
“The Courts in the Community program was developed to give Colorado high school students firsthand experience in how the Colorado judicial system works and illustrate how disputes are resolved in a democratic society,” according to a press release. “These are not mock proceedings. The court will hear arguments in actual cases from which it will issue opinions.”
The judicial panel will also meet with students at Sopris Elementary School, and conduct meetings including continuing legal education sessions with members of local bar associations and other groups. The outreach program also travels to Steamboat Springs on Thursday.
The 22 judges of the Colorado Court of Appeals sit in divisions of three judges to hear cases. Judges hearing cases at Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs High Schools are Robert D. Hawthorne, Gilbert M. Román and Nancy J. Lichtenstein.
Space will be limited at today’s GSHS event, but the public also is invited to attend. Proceedings begin at 10 a.m. The court generally issues opinions within a few weeks of the arguments.