Paso County District Court No. 09CR254 Honorable Robert L.
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Majid Yazdi, Assistant
Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee
A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Tracy C. Renner,
Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
1 When a statute says that a defendant owes interest at a
rate of 12% per annum on his restitution obligation, does
that mean that the Colorado Judicial Department can only
require him to make one interest payment per year? Defendant,
Matthew James Ray, thinks so. We do not.
2 Our story begins with a letter sent by the Judicial
Department in July 2015. It said that the Judicial Department
would begin charging defendant interest at "1% per
month" on any outstanding restitution balance. He
responded by asking the trial court for an order declaring
that the Judicial Department did not have the statutory
authority to charge him monthly interest. The trial court
3 Defendant appealed. We affirm.
4 A jury convicted defendant of second degree assault. The
trial court sentenced him to prison, and it ordered him to
pay $19, 855.91 in restitution.
5 When the court issued the restitution order, section
18-1.3-603(4)(b)(I), C.R.S. 2012, which we shall call
"the restitution statute," provided that a
defendant owed post-judgment interest "from the date of
the entry of the order at the rate of twelve percent per
annum." (In 2016, the legislature amended the statute to
lower the rate to 8%. Ch. 277, sec. 1, § 18-1.3-603,
2016 Colo. Sess. Laws 1142.) The restitution order in this
case specifically noted that "interest will accrue at
12% per annum from the date of entry of the order."
6 In June 2015, the Judicial Department issued a press
release "announc[ing] a finalized plan to correct
deficiencies in calculating and assessing interest on
restitution." The press release noted that the
restitution statute "ha[d] not been applied consistently
among the state's judicial districts" and that the
Judicial Department would begin "calculat[ing] and
assess[ing] 1 percent interest monthly on restitution
balances to ensure consistent and accurate application of the
law across the state."
7 The new policy came on the heels of a 2014 report issued by
the Colorado State Auditor. The report noted that most
judicial districts had not assessed or collected any interest
since the legislature had enacted the restitution statute.
8 In July 2015, clerks of court around the state began
sending letters to defendants with outstanding restitution
balances to inform them of the new policy. Defendant received
a letter from the clerk of the El Paso County district court,
which stated that he had an outstanding restitution balance
of $19, 583.98 and that "interest will be added at 1%
per month of the current balance . . . until the original
restitution amount is paid in full."
Trial Court's Order
9 In response to the Judicial Department's new policy,
defendant asked the trial court for an order declaring that
the Judicial Department did not have the statutory authority
to charge him monthly interest. He made two arguments in
support of his request: (1) the statute's plain language
did not allow the Judicial Department to make interest
payable monthly; and (2) charging interest monthly rather
than yearly "results in increased interest payments and
[therefore] greater punishment."
10 The trial court denied the motion. It first concluded that
"twelve percent per annum" plainly referred
"to a simple interest calculation that is compounded at
the end of each calendar year." But, the court
continued, "[t]hat does not mean . . . that the
assessment of interest remains stagnant for the year prior to
interest being compounded." The trial court found that
"[a] contrary interpretation would run afoul of the