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People v. Steen

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

February 3, 2014

In re The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff,
v.
Mark Ashly STEEN, Defendant.

Page 488

Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21, Boulder County District Court Case No. 13CV30342, Honorable Maria E. Berkenkotter, Judge

Attorneys for Plaintiff: Stanley L. Garnett, District Attorney, Twentieth Judicial

Page 489

District, Nicole A. Mor, Appellate Deputy District Attorney, Boulder, Colorado

Attorneys for Defendant: Miller & Harrison, LLC, Robert B. Miller, Boulder, Colorado, Dean Neuwirth P.C., Dean Neuwirth, Denver, Colorado

Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Colorado Criminal Defense Bar: The Noble Law Firm, LLC, Antony M. Noble, Lakewood, Colorado

OPINION

MÁRQUEZ, JUSTICE.

¶ 1 Petitioner, Mark Ashly Steen, was convicted in county court of misdemeanor offenses. In this original proceeding pursuant to C.A.R. 21, Steen challenges orders issued by the county court and district court denying his motions under section 16-2-114(6), C.R.S. (2013), and Crim. P. 37(f) to stay execution of his sentence pending his appeal of the convictions to the district court. We issued a rule to show cause why the relief sought in Steen' s petition should not be granted.

¶ 2 We hold that section 16-2-114(6) and Crim. P. 37(f) require a county court, upon request, to grant a stay of execution of a defendant's sentence pending appeal of a misdemeanor conviction to the district court. Thus, the county court in this case was required to enter a stay upon Steen' s request. Under section 16-2-114(6) and Crim. P. 37(f), the county court's stay remains in effect through final disposition of the appeal, unless modified by the district court. Accordingly, we make the rule absolute and remand this case to the district court with instructions that, pursuant to section 16-2-114(6) and Crim. P. 37(f), a stay of execution shall remain in effect until after final disposition of Steen' s appeal, unless modified by the district court.

I. Facts and Procedural History

¶ 3 Mark Ashly Steen was convicted in Boulder County Court of the misdemeanor offenses of driving while ability impaired (" DWAI" ) [1] and careless driving.[2] In accordance with section 42-4-1307(5), C.R.S. (2013), the county court sentenced Steen, as a second offender, to thirty days of home detention (electronic home monitoring), two years of probation, a one-year suspended jail sentence, and sixty hours of community service, and ordered him to pay fines and costs totaling $1,336.50.[3] See § 42-4-1307(5)(a)(I)-(IV), (7)(a), C.R.S. (2013) (mandating penalties for second offenders, including a period of probation of at least two years and a one-year suspended jail sentence, and authorizing sentencing alternatives such as home detention in lieu of a required term of imprisonment).

¶ 4 Steen notified the county court that he would file an appeal with the district court and moved pursuant to Crim. P. 37(f) to stay the execution of his sentence during the pendency of the appeal. The county court stayed execution of the home detention part of Steen's sentence, but ordered Steen to " engage in the probation sentence and all attendant conditions while the appeal is considered by the district court." It did not stay any other aspect of his sentence.

¶ 5 Steen filed his appeal with the district court. Again invoking Crim. P. 37(f), Steen moved the district court to stay the entirety of his sentence during the pendency of the appeal. In its response to Steen's motion, the People urged the district court to decline to stay execution of the probationary portion of Steen's sentence, arguing that under sections 18-1.3-202(1), C.R.S. (2013), and 16-4-201, C.R.S. (2013), a stay of probation is discretionary.

¶ 6 The district court denied Steen's motion, stating that section 16-4-201 applied and that the court declined to exercise its discretion under that provision to stay execution of the sentence. Steen moved for reconsideration, arguing that Crim. P. 37(f)

Page 490

mirrors section 16-2-114(6) and that these provisions, which govern appeals from county court to the district court, require the county court to grant a stay upon request. The district court denied the motion for reconsideration, citing its prior order and further reasoning that section 16-2-114(6) does not require the district court to grant a stay. It therefore continued to " decline to exercise its discretion in the manner requested."

¶ 7 Steen then petitioned this court to issue a rule to show cause under C.A.R. 21. We issued the show cause order and now make the rule absolute.

II. Original Jurisdiction

¶ 8 Original relief pursuant to C.A.R. 21 is an extraordinary remedy that is limited in purpose and availability. People v. Darlington,105 P.3d 230, 232 (Colo.2005). This court will generally elect to hear C.A.R. 21 cases that raise issues of first impression and that are of significant public importance. Young v. Jefferson Cnty., 2014 CO 1, ¶ 7, 2014 WL 104109; In re Marriage of Wiggins, 2012 CO 44, ¶ 12, 279 P.3d 1, 5. We will also exercise original jurisdiction where the normal appellate process would prove inadequate. Warden v. Exempla, Inc., 2012 CO 74, ¶ 16, 291 P.3d 30, 34. We exercise our original jurisdiction in this case because the interpretation of section 16-2-114(6) and Crim. P. 37(f) raises an important issue of first impression and one that is likely to recur ...


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