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People v. Scott

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Third Division

November 21, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Cody Jay Scott, Defendant-Appellee.

          Mesa County District Court No. 18CR1011 Honorable Brian J. Flynn, Judge.

          Daniel P. Rubinstein, District Attorney, George Alan Holley II, Senior Deputy District Attorney, Grand Junction, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant

          Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Elyse Maranjian, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee

          OPINION

          WEBB, JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 This prosecution appeal requires us to decide whether the General Assembly has legislatively overruled People v. Andrews, 871 P.2d 1199 (Colo. 1994), concerning the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime of escape (F3), by its 1995 amendment to section 18-8-208, C.R.S. 2019. Because we conclude that Andrews is still binding authority, we affirm the trial court's sentence, which it imposed based on Andrews.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 Under section 16-12-102(1), C.R.S. 2019, the District Attorney for the 21st Judicial District appeals the four-year sentence (plus mandatory parole) imposed on defendant, Cody Jay Scott, following his guilty plea - without a sentencing concession - to escape, in violation of section 18-8-208(2). Specifically, the District Attorney contends the trial court erred as a matter of law in concluding based on Andrews that the mandatory minimum sentence was four years, under section 18-1.3-401(1)(a)(V)(A.1), C.R.S. 2019, rather than eight years under section 18-1.3-401(8)(a)(IV). Scott concedes preservation.

         II. Standard of Review

         ¶ 3 The parties agree that we review interpretation of a sentencing statute de novo. See, e.g., People v. Wylie, 260 P.3d 57, 60 (Colo.App. 2010) ("To the extent defendant's argument requires us to interpret statutory provisions, we do so de novo."). That review is guided by several familiar principles.

• A court's principal task when construing a statute is to give effect to the General Assembly's intent, as determined primarily from the plain language of the statute. Romero v. People, 179 P.3d 984, 986 (Colo. 2007).
• The court construes the statute as a whole in an effort to give consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all its parts, and reads words and phrases in context and according to the rules of grammar and common usage. People v. Banuelos-Landa, 109 P.3d 1039, 1041 (Colo.App. 2004).
• If the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, the court does not engage in further statutory analysis, much less consider extrinsic information. Romero, 179 P.3d at 986.
• "The plainness or ambiguity of statutory language is determined by reference to the language itself, the specific context in which that language is used, and the broader context of the statute as a whole." Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., 519 U.S. 337, 340 (1997); see also Klinger v. Adams Cty. Sch. Dist No. 50, 130 P.3d 1027, 1031 (Colo. 2006).
• A statutory interpretation leading to an illogical or absurd result will not be adopted, and courts avoid constructions that are at odds with the overall legislative scheme. See People v. Tixier, 207 P.3d 844, 847 (Colo.App. 2008).

         III. Law

         ¶ 4 The sentencing range for a class 3 felony is four to twelve years. § 18-1.3-401(1)(a)(V)(A.1). But the presence of one or more "extraordinary aggravating circumstances" requires an enhanced minimum sentence of "at least the midpoint in the presumptive range" - which is eight years for a class 3 felony. § 18-1.3-401(8)(a). Relevant here, one such aggravating factor is that "[t]he defendant was under confinement . . . or in any correctional institution as a convicted felon, or an escapee . . . at the time of the commission of a felony." § 18-1.3-401(8)(a)(IV). And at least on appeal, ...


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