Colorado Court of Appeals to hear arguments in Alamosa


ALAMOSA—A division of the Colorado Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at Alamosa High School on Tuesday, March 14, and at Salida High School on March 16, before audiences of students. While space will be limited at both schools, the public also is invited to attend.

In addition, the three-judge division will meet with students from Alamosa Elementary School and from Longfellow Elementary School in Salida, and conduct meetings including continuing legal education sessions with members of local bar associations and other groups.

The high school visits are part of the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Courts in the Community, the outreach program the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals initiated 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.

These are not mock proceedings. The court will hear arguments in actual cases from which it will issue opinions. The court generally issues opinions within a few weeks of the arguments.

The 22 judges of the Colorado Court of Appeals sit in divisions of three judges to hear cases. Judges hearing cases at Alamosa and Salida High Schools are Robert D. Hawthorne, Karen M. Ashby and Rebecca R. Freyre. Senior Judge Russell Carparelli will replace Judge Ashby for one of the hearings at Alamosa High School.

The two cases to be heard at Alamosa High School are:

  • 16CA1035, Chad R. Robison v. Circle T Land Co., et al.: In 2015, Chad Robison and Steve Tonso began negotiating the sale of a large southern Colorado ranch, using e-mails and text messages in the negotiations. By mid-summer, they had reached agreement on essential terms of the sale, but no written contract was ever completed. Soon after reaching that agreement, Mr. Tonso e-mailed Mr. Robison to say he’d received a substantially larger offer for the ranch and would not sell to Mr. Robison. Mr. Robison then sued, alleging breach of contract. The trial court dismissed the claim, stating there was no binding agreement between the parties. Mr. Robison appealed, asking the Colorado Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court and require that a hearing be held to determine whether he had a binding agreement with Mr. Tonso.
  • 16CA0228, People of the State of Colorado v. Marcus Lessard: Mr. Lessard has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to review his conviction on charges of stalking and violating a permanent protection order (PPO) issued to prevent him from contacting the victim. Mr. Lessard pleaded guilty to stalking in 2010 and the victim was granted a PPO. The case was dismissed after he completed terms of a deferred sentence, but the PPO remained in effect. In 2013, Mr. Lessard went back to court, believing errors had been made in the initial case, and sought to have the PPO vacated. During that subsequent court case, Mr. Lessard on two occasions served the victim with a copy of his court filings. However, prosecutors said, the packages of legal documents also included derogatory writings attacking the victim. Mr. Lessard was then convicted of felony stalking and two counts of violating a protection order and sentenced to four years in prison. In his appeal, Mr. Lessard makes several arguments that the trial court denied him his rights, including that the trial court improperly prevented him from presenting evidence that he was relying on what he thought was good advice from attorneys and other authorities when he served the victim with legal documents and other materials.

Proceedings at Alamosa High School, 805 Craft Drive in Alamosa, will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 14; proceedings at Salida High School, 26 Jones Avenue in Salida, will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 16.

Question-and-answer sessions, during which the students may ask questions of the attorneys, will follow the arguments in each case. Students also will have the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the Court of Appeals judges.

There will be a limited number of seats for the public. Video recordings from the two arguments will be available online within one to two days of the arguments at http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_Of_Appeals/Oral_Arguments/Index.cfm.

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