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Garcia v. Harms

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

November 6, 2014

Anthony Max Garcia, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Allen Harms, in his official capacity; James Falk, in his official capacity; Rick Raemisch, in his official capacity; John Hickenlooper, Governor, in his official capacity; State of Colorado; and Jane Doe and John Doe, whose true names are unknown, in their official capacities, Defendants-Appellees.

Logan County District Court No. 13CV46 Honorable Charles M. Hobbs, Judge

The Elliott Law Offices, P.C., Mark Elliott, Alonit Katzman, Arvada, Colorado; Elisabeth L. Owen, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Nicole S. Gellar, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees

OPINION

JUDGE FOX

¶ 1 Plaintiff Anthony Max Garcia, an inmate at Sterling Correctional Facility (Sterling), was convicted of assault under the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) Code of Penal Discipline (COPD). He filed an action in district court challenging his COPD conviction, and the district court dismissed the action as not timely filed. Garcia now appeals the district court's order dismissing his claims. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand the case to the district court with directions.

I. Background

¶ 2 Garcia was charged with assault under the COPD after a corrections officer accidentally pricked herself on a sewing needle he kept in his cell. Garcia was not present at the time — the incident happened during a search of Garcia's cell in his absence — but he was charged under the COPD, found culpable at a hearing on the charge, and disciplined. He was also required to pay restitution.

¶ 3 Garcia's lawsuit challenged his conviction. His complaint alleged:

(1) Garcia's disciplinary hearing did not comply with constitutional due process requirements;
(2)the COPD definition of assault was unconstitutionally vague on its face and as applied to him;[1]
(3)the CDOC exceeded its authority when it ordered him to pay restitution;
(4)section 17-1-111, C.R.S. 2014, which exempts CDOC from certain provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, sections 24-4-101 to -108, C.R.S. 2014, violates constitutional separation-of-powers principles; and
(5)the collection of restitution unjustly enriched CDOC. Garcia asked the district court to vacate his COPD assault conviction, return the money he had paid in restitution, and issue an order declaring section 17-1-111 and the COPD definition of assault unconstitutional.

¶ 4 The defendants moved to dismiss the action, arguing that Garcia's complaint — which was filed nearly two years after his COPD conviction became final — was time barred under C.R.C.P. 106.5 and section 13-80-103(1)(c), C.R.S. 2014. At the time, Rule 106.5 required that actions "brought by an inmate to review a decision resulting from a quasi-judicial hearing of [the CDOC]" be filed within thirty days after the final decision of the hearing body or officer. C.R.C.P. 106(b) (2011); C.R.C.P. 106.5(a) (incorporating, by reference, the provisions of C.R.C.P. 106(b)).[2] Section 13-80-103(1)(c) establishes a one-year statute of ...


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