In the Interest of Joshua J. RAY, Sr., Petitioner-Appellant,
PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Colorado Bureau of Investigation for the State of Colorado, and Office of State Court Administrator for the State of Colorado, Respondents-Appellees.
and County of Denver Probate Court No. 15MH110, Honorable
Elizabeth D. Leith, Judge
& OBrien, LLP, Jonathan B. Culwell, Denver, Colorado, for
M. Bronson, City Attorney, Michael J. Stafford, Assistant
City Attorney, Amy J. Packer, Assistant City Attorney,
Denver, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellee People of the State
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Emily B. Buckley, Assistant
Attorney General, John A. Vanlandschoot, Assistant Attorney
General, Denver, Colorado, for Respondents-Appellees Colorado
Bureau of Investigation for the State of Colorado and Office
of State Court Administrator for the State of Colorado
Introduction and Summary
A physician certified Joshua J. Ray, Sr., for involuntary
short-term mental health treatment under section 27-65-107,
C.R.S. 2018. That certification caused Colorado officials to
report Ray to the National Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NICS) as a person subject to federal firearm
prohibitions. Ray argues that because he was involuntarily
certified by a physician, rather than a court, Colorado
officials should not have reported his certification to the
The interplay between Colorado statutes and enforcement of
the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act is complex.
See 18 U.S.C. § 922 (2018); § § 13-9-123, -124,
C.R.S. 2018; § 24-33.5-424, C.R.S. 2018. The Brady Act
prohibits certain categories
of persons from possessing a firearm, including those who
have been "committed to a mental institution." 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(4). To effectuate these prohibitions, the
Brady Act created a federally administered database of
persons barred from possessing a firearm, the NICS. 34 U.S.C.
§ 40901 (2018).
Colorado law requires certain persons and entities to make
NICS reports -- the State Court Administrator (SCA) must
report to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the
"name of each person with respect to whom the court
has entered an order for involuntary certification for
short-term treatment of a mental health disorder pursuant to
section 27-65-107" so that those persons are listed in
the NICS. § 13-9-123(1)(c) (emphasis added).
While the statutory scheme is complex, the only issue
properly before us is simple: When a professional person
certifies someone for involuntary short-term mental health
treatment under section 27-65-107, is that certification the
equivalent of a court order within the meaning of section
13-9-123(1)(c), thus requiring reporting to the NICS?
Our answer, which is "no," is equally simple. The
plain meaning of the term court order simply cannot encompass
a certification by a professional person.
Accordingly, we reverse the order the of the probate court
and direct the probate court, SCA, and CBI, as applicable, to
take reasonable steps to cause any record of Rays