Colorado Supreme Court to convene at Columbine High School

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The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases on Thursday, Oct. 1 at Columbine High School, 6201 S. Pierce St., Littleton.

Students and the public are invited.

The court will hear arguments in actual cases from which it will issue opinions. The court generally issues opinions within a few months of the arguments.

The visit is part of the state’s Courts in the Community, an outreach program initiated on Law Day (May 1), 1986.

After the arguments, students can participate in question-and-answer sessions with attorneys and justices.

The cases are:

  • 08SC970 – Savannah Boles v. Sun Ergoline: Ms. Boles was injured in 2004 while using an upright tanning booth manufactured by Sun Ergoline Inc. Before entering the booth, she signed a form releasing the manufacturer and other entities from liability for any harm she might incur while in the tanning booth. Inside the tanning booth, she reached above her head, expecting to find handles. Two of her fingers were partially amputated when they passed through guard wires below a fan. Ms. Boles sued Sun Ergoline, claiming her injury was caused by a defective product. The trial judge dismissed the case, agreeing with Sun that the release form shielded the company from all liability, and the Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. Ms. Boles is asking the Supreme Court to declare that Colorado public policy prohibits releasing a manufacturer from liability for a defective product.

 

  • 08SC936 – People of the State of Colorado v. Allen Bergerud: Prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to review this case after the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Bergerud’s conviction of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and assault on a peace officer. At trial, Mr. Bergerud had told his attorneys he wanted to argue he was innocent because he acted in self-defense. However, his attorneys told the jury in opening statements that Mr. Bergerud “broke” and did something catastrophic and unplanned when his ex-girlfriend showed up with a male companion. Mr. Bergerud then told the judge he wanted to fire his attorneys and replace them with attorneys who would pursue his theory of the case. The judge replied that Mr. Bergerud could either continue with his current representation or represent himself, and Mr. Bergerud decided to proceed without an attorney. The Court of Appeals concluded the trial judge erred by allowing the defense attorneys to withdraw and forcing Mr. Bergerud to proceed without counsel. The appeals court also concluded that defendants have a fundamental constitutional right to present an “innocence-based defense” regardless of defense counsel’s professional judgment.

The Courts in the Community program was developed to give Colorado high school students first-hand experience in how the Colorado judicial system works and illustrate how disputes are resolved in a democratic society.