July 22, 2010

Colorado Court of Appeals decisions 7-22-10

People v. Butler             ‘Knock and Announce’ Rule Violation and Remedy / Invited Error
Facts: Mr. Butler contended that the police violated the rule that mandates police ‘knock and announce’ their presence prior to executing a search warrant. The prosecution contended regardless of whether the police violated the knock and announce rule, pursuant to Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586 (2006), there is no remedy in criminal law.
Issue: What is the a remedy for a defendant in criminal case when police violate the ‘knock and announce’ rule?
Held: There is none. If the Colorado court is applying Federal law, then the court must follow Federal and Supreme Court precedent. Federal law only provides for a civil remedy for violations of the knock and announce rule.
Reasoning: The CofA pointed out early on in a footnote that, “We express no opinion concerning Butler’s rights, if any, under the Colorado Constitution because Butler’s argument is limited to the Fourth Amendment.” The CofA then went on to say neither party addressed Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586 (2006), where the Supreme Court held that civil remedies provide a sufficient deterrent for violating the ‘knock and announce’ rule, and thusthe exclusionary rule does not apply. Thereafter, the CofA declined to address the issue because Mr. Butler did not have any remedies under Federal law. Mr. Butler never raised the issue specifically under Colorado law. The Colorado Supreme Court, in People v. Gifford, 782 P.2d 795 (Colo. 1989), reached the opposite conclusion of Hudson. In Gifford, the Colorado Supreme held suppression is an appropriate remedy for violating the knock and announce rule.
Issue: Whether the defense can appeal an instruction it agreed to during trial?
Held: No.
Reasoning: The CofA held that expressly acquiescing to an instruction and then appealing any alleged error caused by the instruction amounts to invited error. Thus, the CofA hinted in dicta, that the defense cannot appeal any ‘invited error’, unless the defense is raising ‘oversight or incompetence’.

People v. Padilla-Lopez            Restitution and the Definition of ‘Victim’ 
Facts: A third party deals dope to an undercover, pansy-ass, whiny-ass cop in Ms. Padilla-Lopez’s home. Police subsequently execute a warrant on Ms. Padilla-Lopez’s home. Cops find 1 ½ grams of methamphetamine, 4.4 grams of methylphenidate, baggies, scales, pipes and hypodermic needles. The police also get the Department of Human Services (DHS) involved, and DHS files a Dependency and Neglect case against Ms. Padilla-Lopez. Ms. Lopez pled to misdemeanors, including misdemeanor child abuse. Ms. Padilla-Lopez agreed to pay all restitution in the case as part of the plea. DHS then claimed the mantle of victimhood, and sought $19,295.14 in restitution from Ms. Padilla-Lopez for the placement costs of her kids.
Issue: Whether DHS qualifies as a victim under the restitution statute, C.R.S. § 18-1.3-602?
Held:  No.
Reasoning: The Court of Appeals simply looked at the elements of child abuse, and found, unlike cases of welfare fraud or actually stealing from a government agency, DHS is not a victim of child abuse. The CofA reasoned that the costs incurred by DHS were incidental to its duties.

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