Evance Grandberry, the so-called “kingpin” of the Carbondale drug scene, avoided prison this week. Judge Denise Lynch sentenced Grandberry to 2 years of probation on Wednesday. His plea of guilt likely brings to a close TRIDENT’s undercover drug operation in 2012.
Out of more than 20 people arrested in connection with TRIDENT’s sting in 2012, my client and I were apparently the only ones that went to trial.
There’s been an interesting twist in the Glenwood Springs murder case involving Fredy Cabrera. According to unnamed sources, Cabrera no longer qualifies for a public defender. If Cabrera lied about his assets on his application for the PD, that evidence may be admissible at trial under C.R.E. 608(b) if Cabrera testifies. This will be an intriguing story to follow.
The Vail Daily recently published an article on DUIs in October and used a case study from a tragic alcohol-related death in Breckenridge. The problem is that the article’s “lead” is confusing and simply wrong. There was not a jump in DUIs in October this year as is suggested in the article. The number of fatalities from Colorado DUIs actually dropped dramatically from October 2012 to this year.
However, despite the misleading introduction, the article raises some important points about DUIs in Aspen and Vail. First, there is a culture of partying and pushing the envelope in all aspects of life, including drinking and driving, in resort communities. The DA for 5th JD, Bruce Brown, disclosed that there were 1,250 alcohol-related driving offenses in the counties of Eagle (Vail), Summit (Breckenridge), Lake (Leadville), and Clear Creek (Georgetown).
Second, DUIs are expensive. The article states that fines could reach up to $10,270. While I have yet to see a fine that high, there is no doubt that a DUI will be more than a cab ride home. In addition to fines, the Colorado DMV requires a person install an Interlock device on their vehicle in most circumstances following an arrest for DUI. Typically those devices cost approximately $75/month.
Finally, one mistake can change everything. As the defendant featured in the article, Maverick Bain, said at his sentencing, “No one ever thinks this [killing your friend from a DUI] can happen to them.” Now Bain has 4 years in prison to think about how and what he did.
It hasn’t been a good couple weeks for District Attorney Sherry Caloia. First, one of her deputies was arrested for his second DUI and resigned. Next, she’s sued for legal malpractice because her former assistant and bookkeeper embezzled a good chunk of change from the town of Marble.
The DA in Boulder, Stan Garnett, has been ordered to show cause why the apparent 1999 indictment of John and Patsy Ramsey should be kept secret in connection with the murder of their daughter, JonBenet. Interesting twist to a long-running drama in criminal law in Boulder. More details here.
Its been quite some time since I last posted something on this blog. I had a three-day jury trial in Glenwood Springs in late July. The trial resulted in a hung jury because of an unexpected ruling denying the affirmative defense of entrapment. Nevertheless, the jury was stuck at 9-3 for my client before informing the judge that they could not come to a unanimous decision. Based on favorable juror feedback, the matter was resolved through a plea bargain that will likely result in dismissal in a year. The newsworthy case was the subject of a three-part series in the Aspen Daily News.
The fist article is here.
The second article is here.
The third article is here.
Good article in the NY Times about the occupational hazards for prosecutors.
There was an article in the Aspen Daily News yesterday on the proposed bill forTHC DUIs in Colorado. Unfortunately, the article was less than clear. One key element to the proposed legislation is that defendants with elevated levels of THC in their bloodstream would be allowed to argue that they were not impaired because they have built up a tolerance to the drug.
The new THC DUI bill, HB 13-1114, sets the level of active THC in the blood at 5 nanograms for every millimeter. The 5-nanogram threshold would not establish DUI per se; it merely gives rise to a “permissible inference” that the person was impaired. The result is that a defendant would be allowed a “permissible defense” that the jury should disregard the chemical test. For example, a person that smokes a lot of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes will nearly always have THC in their system. However, that does not necessarily mean they are stoned or unsafe to drive. In short, it would not be a slam dunk for the prosecutor if the defendant has 5 or more nanograms of THC in their bloodstream. This change from previous iterations of a THC DUI bill is a big deal. A copy of the proposed bill can be viewed here.
I emailed the reporter, Doroth Atkins, at the Aspen Daily News and she said that she was aware of the “permissible defense” in the proposed THC DUI bill, but that the editing process stripped out any mention of that aspect. Fair enough. While I understand the attraction to make things simple and easy, I disagree with the decision to simply ignore the “permissible defense” issue in the new THC DUI bill. Lesson here: reporters beware when you tread into writing about proposed legislation and the law.
The ever comprehensive blog, SCOTUS, has a recap of the oral arguments in Missouri v. McNeely. It sounds like we’ll be seeing a decision that requires at least an attempt to get a warrant before an officer is allowed to physically require a blood test for a DUI investigation.
I just got word that the last remaining deputy district attorney in Eagle, Tyra Welch, is moving to Jefferson County. In total, 7 attorneys have left the Office of the DA for the 5th J.D. I hope Bruce Brown is out there recruiting new deputies; he’s going to need it. A little turnover is expected with a new administration, but the people of Eagle County are going to suffer, at least in the short term, as a result of chaos in that office.
[Update: there will be one district court attorney, Joe Kirwan, and one county court attorney that just graduated from law school representing the DA’s Office in Eagle starting on Tuesday.]