Court Opinions for May 21

Colorado Court of Appeals

People v. Coleman

Norman Coleman was convicted with aggravated driving after revocation prohibited (ADARP), driving under the influence and careless driving. He was given one year with the Department of Corrections for ADARP. For the DUI, he received two years in jail and four years of probation. For careless driving he received 90 days in jail.

Coleman appealed his conviction on the grounds that the trial court was wrong to deny his motion to suppress statements he made on the night of the arrest, that the prosecutor made an improper closing argument and that he should not have been given probation for the DUI with the sentencing he was given for the ADARP.

The defendant argued that he was not given a Miranda warning. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, as the police stop did not qualify as an interrogation requiring a Miranda warning.

Coleman’s position on the prosecutor’s closing arguments was that they violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination since the prosecutor used Coleman’s silence pre- and post-arrest as a sign of guilt since any other person would readily offer their driver’s license or accept a blood test. The court rejected this argument since at the time Coleman did not object to the prosecutor’s statements and they did not undermine the fairness of the trial in the court’s eyes.

The court did agree that Coleman should not be given the four years of probation since he was convicted of ADARP, which is a class-six felony under the ADARP statute.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment but vacated the sentencing and remanded the case for resentencing.

People v. Wagner

Ryan Wagner was convicted on three counts of stalking — one count under each of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of section 18-3-602(1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes. On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals considered whether the double jeopardy clauses of the U.S. and Colorado constitutions required his three stalking convictions merge.

The court concluded that Wagner’s stalking convictions should have merged and remanded the case so the trial court can vacate two of the counts. The court also rejected Wagner’s other contentions of error by entering convictions unsupported by sufficient evidence and rejecting a defense-tendered unanimity instruction or, in the alternative, failing to require the prosecution to elect which acts constituted credible threats.

Colorado v. Robert J. Hopp & Associates, LLC

In a case of first impression in Colorado, the Court of Appeals addressed whether the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibit foreclosure attorneys and title companies from billing mortgage servicer clients foreclosure commitment charges when those full costs were not actually incurred, despite knowing that these fraudulent costs would be assessed against homeowners in foreclosure.

Plaintiffs brought a civil law enforcement action against defendants, foreclosure lawyer Robert J. Hopp; his law firms, Robert J. Hopp & Associates, LLC, and The Hopp Law Firm, LLC as well as Hopp’s affiliated title companies, National Title, LLC, d/b/a Horizon National Title Insurance, LLC, and First National Title Residential, LLC; and Safehaus Holdings Group, LLC.

The state alleged that Hopp, the law firms and their affiliated companies violated the CCPA and the CFDCPA by engaging in the billing practice described above. The district court mostly agreed with the state and imposed penalties totaling $624,000. While Hopp’s wife, Lori Hopp, was a defendant in the district court action, she was not found liable for any claims and is not named as a party to this appeal.

Defendants appealed the trial court’s judgment; plaintiffs cross-appealed an evidentiary ruling.

The court affirmed the district court’s judgment and remanded the case with directions.