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Diehl v. Weiser

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

July 1, 2019

Scott Edward DIEHL, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Philip J. WEISER, Colorado Attorney General; Jason Lengerich, Warden of Buena Vista Correctional Facility; and Dean Williams, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Respondents-Appellants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          Appeal from the District Court, Chaffee County District Court Case No. 16CV30043, Honorable Patrick W. Murphy, Judge

         Attorneys for Petitioner-Appellee: The Law Office of April M. Elliott, P.C., April M. Elliott, Denver, Colorado, Reppucci Law Firm, P.C., Jonathan D. Reppucci, Denver, Colorado

         Attorneys for Respondents-Appellants: Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Nicole Suzanne Gellar, First Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado

         OPINION

         HART, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] This habeas corpus appeal requires us to determine how the Department of Corrections ("DOC") should apply the "one-continuous-sentence" statute, section 17-22.5-101, C.R.S. (2018), to an offender who was eligible for and released to parole, committed additional crimes while on parole, and was sentenced for those subsequent crimes concurrent with his initial sentence. The central question is whether the offender’s original prison sentences should be included in the newly calculated continuous sentence for purposes of determining a new parole eligibility date. We conclude today that they should not.

          I. Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Petitioner-Appellee, Scott Edward Diehl, pleaded guilty to three drug offenses in 2005. For each offense, he received a sentence that required him to serve a designated number of years in prison as well as a period of mandatory parole. He began serving his term of imprisonment for those sentences, which ran concurrently, on September 6, 2005.

         [¶3] Diehl was released from prison at the discretion of the state board of parole on August 16, 2011, and he immediately began serving a five-year period of mandatory parole. Diehl absconded from parole from February 14 to March 28, 2013. He was arrested and returned to prison to serve the remainder of his mandatory parole term incarcerated. During this period of reincarceration, Diehl pleaded guilty in three additional cases arising from the time when he was on parole. He received new sentences that were to run concurrently with his outstanding sentences.

         [¶4] On December 8, 2016, Diehl filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the district court, arguing that he was being unlawfully denied consideration for discretionary parole. He contended that the DOC erred in using August 6, 2011, the date on which he was first released to mandatory parole, rather than September 6, 2005, the date on which he was first sentenced to prison, to calculate his parole eligibility date.

         [¶5] The district court agreed with Diehl. In doing so, the court rejected the DOC’s argument that Diehl’s "sentence to imprisonment" on his original convictions had been discharged when he began serving his mandatory period of parole and was thus no longer relevant to his new parole eligibility date. The district court concluded that a sentence, for purposes of Colorado’s "one-continuous-sentence" rule, see § 17-22.5-101, is comprised of two components— a period of ...


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