March 20, 2023
Headlines — March 20, 2023 Stacie Johnson
Solicitor General Recommends Climate Action Case Against Suncor and Exxon Should Stay In State Court
A case brought by Colorado local governments against Exxon Mobil and Suncor could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. The federal government’s Office of the Solicitor General recommended late last week that the Supreme Court deny a request from Exxon Mobil and Suncor to move a climate action lawsuit from state to federal court.
Starting in 2018, San Miguel County, Boulder County, and the City of Boulder sued Exxon and Suncor in state court, claiming the fossil fuel companies contributed to the climate crisis and also spread misinformation for decades. According to the Daily Camera, the local governmental entities are not trying to instruct the companies on their operations or sales or enforcing emission controls, but rather pursuing monetary damages to help offset the impacts from climate change.
Since the initial filing, Exxon and Suncor petitioned to have the case heard in federal court with rulings by the U.S. Court of Appeals and the 10th Circuit saying the case belonged in state court. The companies then petitioned the United States Supreme Court last summer to review the case based on two questions; if federal law governs the claims and if federal courts thus have jurisdiction.
With the federal government’s opinion issued, the Supreme Court will now decide if they will hear the case.
El Paso County Compensates $25,000 To Man Detained Illegally For Suspected Immigration Violations Account
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado announced Friday their client Saul Cisneros has accepted an offer of judgment and compensation of $25,000 from former El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. This effectively ends a five-year legal battle in which Cisneros sought compensation from the Sheriff for illegally detaining him for suspected immigration violations.
Following an arrest in 2017, Cisneros’ daughter posted a $2,000 bond for him, but the El Paso County Sheriff did not release Cisneros based on an immigration detainer and administrative warrant by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, both of which had no signature by a Judge. Although the ICE detention request was for 48 hours, Elder continued to hold Cisneros in jail for four more months, which prompted Cisneros to take part in a state-court class action lawsuit against the Sheriff in 2018 for false imprisonment. The El Paso County District Court Judge ruled that the Sheriff’s practice of keeping pretrial detainees in jail based on ICE documents not signed by a Judge violates provisions of the Colorado Constitution.
In a separate companion case focusing on compensation, the El Paso County District Court denied a dismissal request by the Sheriff in 2020 where Elder argued he had immunity from the lawsuit based on the state’s Governmental Immunity Act. The parties further litigated the governmental immunity issue before the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court with Cisneros prevailing on the last remaining immunity argument in September. According to an ACLU statement, Elder then removed the case to federal court based on an additional claim by Cisneros under federal law and then made a formal offer of judgment for $25,000 which Cisneros accepted.
Neguse Requesting Feds To Update Mortgage Guidelines To Prevent Foreclosure For Marshall Fire Victims
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse is requesting an update to the federal mortgage guidelines to protect Marshall fire victims from foreclosure risk. The congressman’s request seeks to update the current occupancy requirements for the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. The update would include a so-called “situational prohibition” on foreclosure that protects victims of natural disasters like the Marshall fire.
According to Colorado Newsline, current regulations allow mortgage companies to foreclose on borrowers who do not live on the property for more than a year. In a letter requesting the policy change, Rep. Joe Neguse indicated he personally knows of one such foreclosure. Many homeowners affected by the Marshall Fire are still unable to live in their properties as many are still in the process of reconstruction.
Colorado Lawmakers Approve Bill That Reduces Prison Sentences For Inmates That Complete Higher Education Degrees
Both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly have passed a bill to reduce prison sentences for criminals who earn a higher education degree while incarcerated. The legislation would tackle Colorado’s recidivism rates for nonviolent criminals returning to prison within three years which is more than 50%.
The Colorado Senate passed House Bill 1037 on Friday by a vote of 26-4 following the House passage last month by a vote of 61 to 1.The bill goes back to the House for changes approved by the Senate.