Legal Issues

A Texas federal judge just has declared unconstitutional a decades-old law that aims to keep Native American children within their own communities.

There’s good news for hemp growers across the U.S. who are preparing for harvest. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration removed some cannabidiol, or CBD, from the most restrictive class on Thursday, allowing for the first cannabis-derived pharmaceutical to be sold in U.S. markets.

As the Senate remains in a pitched battle over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court on Monday will begin its new term with far less fanfare.

The high court is launching its nine-month term evenly divided — with four conservative and four liberal justices — as an F.B.I. investigation into sexual misconduct allegations lodged against Kavanaugh delays a full Senate vote on the nomination. Kavanaugh was nominated to fill the vacancy created by the retirement this past summer of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often cast the pivotal swing vote on cases.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

The Colorado Supreme Court won’t hear a lawsuit over a controversial land exchange between the Broadmoor Hotel and the City of Colorado Springs. Plaintiffs say it may be the end of their years-long fight over a parcel of parkland called Strawberry Fields.

A federal judge has restored Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

In his ruling, U.S. district court judge Dana Christensen said the federal government didn’t use the best available science when it removed the bears from the threatened species list last year.

California lawmakers have approved a measure requiring prosecutors to expunge convictions or reduce sentences for many marijuana-related convictions dating back decades. The bill is now awaiting a signature from Gov. Jerry Brown, according to The Associated Press.

Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET

Court documents unsealed on Thursday reveal that a single holdout on the jury prevented Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort from being convicted of all 18 charges facing him this week.

Jurors concluded that Manafort was guilty of eight counts in the case. The newly revealed jury verdict form has handwritten notes of "no consensus 11 to 1" on the other 10.

Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET

Fox & Friends was the natural venue for President Trump to strike back against Michael Cohen. The former self-described "fixer" for Trump had said under oath, before a federal judge, that he and Trump had violated the campaign finance law together.

The problem was the hush payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels. During the campaign, each had taken a six-figure payment that kept their claimed affairs with Trump out of the public eye.

Milan Suvajac / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Some residents of Manitou Springs have filed a lawsuit against the city over a proposed deal to repair and reopen the Cog Railway. The suit argues residents should have the opportunity to vote on the proposal.

In a split-screen whiplash, a regular Tuesday turned into a blockbuster, with two top people close to President Trump now facing prison.

First, it was Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, found guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud by a jury in Virginia. Minutes later, in New York, it was Trump's longtime former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to tax evasion, falsifying submissions to a bank and campaign finance violations.

Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, has pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court in New York, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday evening.

They include five counts of tax evasion, one count of falsifying submissions to a bank and two counts involving unlawful campaign contributions.

Updated at 6:26 p.m. ET

A federal jury on Tuesday found Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, guilty on eight of the 18 charges he faced in his tax and bank fraud trial.

The verdict delivered a painful fall from grace for a top political operative who has advised presidents from Gerald Ford to Donald Trump and a shot in the arm to an investigation derided by President Trump as a "witch hunt."

Pesticides are all over, from backyard gardens to cornfields. While their use doesn’t appear to be slowing, concern over drift and the resulting effects on health is driving research — and more worries.

Those concerns are bringing pesticides to a different venue: courtrooms. 

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

 

El Paso County’s Board of Commissioners approved a settlement with the ACLU of Colorado at its regular meeting Tuesday morning. The suit was filed on behalf of a woman held in jail for nearly a month because she couldn’t pay a $55 administrative fee.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Migrants detained in recent months at the U.S.-Mexico border describe being held in Customs and Border Protection facilities that are unsanitary and overcrowded, receiving largely inedible food and being forced to drink foul-smelling drinking water.

Documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in California and viewed by NPR late Tuesday contain interviews with some 200 individuals detained under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, many of whom related poor conditions at the centers.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday he would be retiring from the Supreme Court. With him go his three decades of experience on the bench and, more politically pressing, his moderate legal philosophy.

It was this centrist streak that made his vote the key in many deeply divisive cases — so many, in fact, that Kennedy earned himself a reputation as the court's quintessential "swing vote."

Dave Parker / Flickr, Creative Commons

Protests and blockades of clinics that perform abortions are up dramatically around the nation, including Colorado, the first state in the union to pass a law legalizing abortion more than fifty years ago.  

In the summer of 2012, fiancés David Mullins and Charlie Craig tried to order a wedding cake from a shop in a Denver suburb. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to serve the same-sex couple because of his Christian beliefs. Now, the Supreme Court has sided with the baker, but not for the reason you might expect.

Mike McBride / Flickr-Creative Commons

Colorado's juvenile justice system will undergo a comprehensive review over the next six months. The goal is to bolster efforts to help keep youth out of the system as well as improve outcomes for those already in it.

Doug Lamborn

A federal judge is ordering that Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado be placed back on June's Republican primary ballot.

Coastal communities across the country are suing oil companies for contributing to climate change. Now, a lawsuit in the landlocked interior joins the list.

At the heart of the lawsuit is this realization: Climate change is expensive. Just look at worsening wildfires and floods nationally. 

At his booth for the 5th annual NoCo Hemp Exposition in Loveland, Colorado, Scott Leshman, founder of Cannabinoid Creations, pours samples of his signature soda flavor, Cartoon Cereal Crunch. It’s an ode to the popular breakfast cereal, Cap'n Crunch CrunchBerries, with a twist: It contains cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil.  

Updated at 9:58 p.m. ET

President Trump believes Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has gone too far in his probe of potential ties between Trump's campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.

Her statement to reporters did little to tamp down speculation that Trump may seek to fire Mueller — an authority that Sanders says Trump enjoys.

[Update 12/14/17 1:15 p.m.] No charges will be filed against Rep. Lori Saine. The news was announced Dec. 14 by the Boulder district attorney’s office. The case was passed to Boulder because Denver’s district attorney Beth McCann worked closely with Saine when they were both state lawmakers. The Boulder district attorney’s office says Saine “totally forgot the firearm was in her purse and no criminal case against Ms. Saine can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

Update 10-23-17: The Colorado Attorney General's Office has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Deep Green Resistance on behalf of the Colorado River ecosystem. The story has been updated to reflect this development.

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A few months ago Denver civil rights lawyer Jason Flores-Williams had an idea. He’s made a name for himself recently in a class action lawsuit against the city of Denver where he’s representing the city’s homeless people.

“A lot of times I meet with class members, I take them out to dinner because they’re starving,” he said.

While at a Denver Mexican restaurant, the group started talking about homelessness. One of his homeless clients piped up.

“In an off the cuff, offhand comment [he] said, ‘the only thing more homeless than the homeless is nature,’” Flores-Williams recalled.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

From PTSD to traumatic brain injuries, the invisible wounds of war can be just as devastating as the physical ones. And for some, that service-related trauma can lead to other issues, including problems with the law. In Colorado's 4th Judicial District, which encompasses El Paso and Teller Counties, there’s a court program designed for vets with trauma who've been charged with certain misdemeanors and low-level felonies. It's called the Veterans Trauma Court, and it was recently recognized as a national leader among similar programs around the country.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Colorado is ramping up efforts to try and prevent marijuana from being diverted to the black market. Governor John Hickenlooper signed two bi-partisan bills into law Thursday. 

Brian Turner / Flickr / Creative Commons

Colorado’s 4th Judicial District is being recognized for the work of its Veterans Trauma Court. The court serves vets in El Paso and Teller Counties, and has been selected as one of four “mentor” courts around the country.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Advocates say Senate Bill 40 does something simple: It brings the Colorado Open Records Act into the 21st century by requiring state agencies to provide information in a digital format , such as a database or a spreadsheet, where feasible.

"These are the people's records. We are the custodians, we are the stewards of these records," said Democratic Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins. He's the main sponsor of the bill.

For some, the issue is more complicated.

COLORADO SENATE REPUBLICANS

A Colorado newspaper is fighting claims that it peddles fake news stories. The publisher of Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel is accusing a state lawmaker of defamation and threatening a lawsuit. If filed, legal experts said it would be the first of its kind, potentially setting a legal definition for what is considered fake news and what is not.

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