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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

Eviction law update: Changes to Eviction Notices

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If you own and rent-out real estate, chances are you have had to deal with a difficult tenant.  Recent changes in the eviction laws may affect how you remove a tenant who has breached your lease agreement. Importantly, in Colorado, the only way to legally remove a tenant who is in default of a lease and refuses to deliver possession of property (residential or commercial property) back to the landlord, is to go through the court eviction process.  In an eviction action, the court determines who is entitled to legal possession of the property, and what damages are due because of the breach of a lease. Eviction court procedures must be strictly followed or the case could be dismissed – leaving a landlord with lost time and money.  Recent changes in the law have, in some circumstances, lengthened the notice/cure period a landlord must provide a tenant before an eviction action can be started.

There are two types of notices in an eviction action: 1) Demand for Compliance or Possession (which gives the tenant a right to cure during the demand period); and 2) Notice to Quit (tenant has no right to cure).  The Demand for Compliance or Possession (“Demand”) is typically used when a tenant has failed to pay rent on time. The Demand gives the tenant the right to cure the rent within the notice period, and if the tenant fails to cure, a landlord may proceed with an eviction action.  With regard to the Demand itself, the new law changed the notice periods as follows (HB 19-1118 (C.R.S. § 13-40-104), effective May 20, 2019):

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Long Peak Council, Boy Scouts of America Honors Dick Lyons

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2020 2 Dick Lyons Longmont Dinner Fact Sheet.pdf Adobe Acrobat Standard 2017

The Long Peak Council has chosen Lyons Gaddis's Richard "Dick" Lyons as its Distinguished Citizen Honoree for its Longmont Distinguished Citizen Dinner 2020! This dinner benefits the local Longs Peak Council, Boy Scouts of America serving the St. Vrain Valley School District and Northern Colorado. The dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, from 6:00-8:00 pm at the D-Barn 136 Main Street, Longmont, Colorado. 

Dick was chosen for his longtime commitment to the Longmont community:

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The Road to OZ Passes Through Colorado

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The Road to OZ Passes Through Colorado
Tax Windfall, Opportunity Zones and Real Estate Investment

By Cameron A. Grant on January 26, 2020

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Best Lawyers in America

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Jennifer M. Spitz was selected for inclusion in the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of tax law and trusts and estates. She’s also listed in Colorado Super Lawyers and is named as a 5280 Top Lawyer for her work in estate planning. Jennifer has practiced law in Longmont since 1998, and joined Lyons Gaddis in January 2019.  Jennifer works for a variety of clients on wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents, and assists with the administration of trusts and estates. She has a particular interest and expertise in tax planning.

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Longmont-based CanSource sells to private equity firm Broadtree Partners

Lyons Gaddis congratulates our clients, Pat Hartman and Ron Popma, on the recent sale of CanSource to Broadtree Partners. Chad Kupper, with the assistance of Anton Dworak, headed the legal team to bring this sale together. You can view the full story from the Longmont Times-Call by clicking HERE. Thank you for trusting us to be part of this transaction. If you need help with a similar matter, please contact us directly.

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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors … Until They Don’t.

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Some of the most contested lawsuits pit neighbor against neighbor, arguing over who owns what small strip of seemingly valueless land. Sometimes one neighbor argues the fence is a foot over the lot line; other times, a neighbor puts up a fence in the middle of the night. Tensions flare, and weeks later, everyone is at the lawyers’ offices armed for bear.  Many months and thousands of dollars later, a District Court Judge decrees where the true lot line rests.  Maybe a fence moves, maybe it doesn’t, maybe a deed gets recorded.  Whether you win or lose, everyone spent a fortune and no one is happy.  

From the outside, boundary disputes seem like the most petty, unreasonable lawsuits you could imagine. However, sometimes they’re legitimate. Most Colorado towns were founded in the 1800’s.  Original surveys were often made using large, heavy chains to measure distances. Old surveys frequently marked boundaries as starting at the “large cottonwood tree” or “the stone fence post,” features that have long-since vanished. Survey chains were particularly bad at measuring over uneven  terrain, let alone foothills or mountains. Further uncertainty comes with modern surveying tools, such as GPS and laser scanning, called lidar.  Applying such accurate modern techniques to the verbiage of legal descriptions from the 1800’s is sometimes comical. Some towns, such as Leadville, find errors so great that one person’s house might be located on another person’s lot.  

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20 Years of Service.

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Anton Dworak

Please join Lyons Gaddis in its celebration of 20 years of service provided by Anton V. Dworak. Anton is a fourth generation Longmont resident, tracing his roots back to his homesteading ancestors. Anton has been with Lyons Gaddis since 1999, and maintains a lively and diverse practice. Before joining our firm, Anton was an active contributor to the Longmont community, a devotion that continues to this day. Anton’s quick wits, passion for the arts, and wonderful sense of humor make him the perfect member of the Lyons Gaddis family. Lyons Gaddis thanks you for 20 years of outstanding service Anton V. Dworak! 

 

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An Advocate's Advice: 7 Lessons Learned Over a Lifetime in the Law

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After 45 years of handling several thousand disputes, there are some recurring lessons to be learned about achieving the best results. While every case is unique, the roadmap to a successful result includes a set of common waypoints. As you face a dispute, whether litigation, mediation, arbitration or even negotiation, these seven “trade secrets” will help ensure that you have the best chance of success:

1. Identify Your Goals. You wouldn’t start a road trip without knowing your destination. Similarly, make sure you know where you are driving your case. What do you want to achieve in the case? Write it down. Be specific. Share those goals with your lawyer at the outset of representation. Disputes are emotional, time consuming, and issues become murky as the case proceeds. Clearly identified goals can keep you, your lawyer, and your case on track.                                                                                                                                                                         
2. Demand Attention from Your Lawyer. Many Lawyers are like emergency room doctors; they practice triage. Very few attorneys have the luxury of representing a single client. Your attorney must divide their time between multiple cases, where the most serious issue of the moment takes all the attention. That means even though your lawyer wants to focus solely on your case, they may be getting pulled in many other directions at the same time. To you, your case is the most important, to your attorney, treating every case as their most important can be an insurmountable hurdle. To keep your case in priority and at the forefront of your attorney’s mind, schedule specific times to call or meet with your lawyer to review your case. Yes, these calls and meetings can cost money, but it creates both urgency and open discussion about the best way to achieve your goals.                                                                                                              
3. Establish Trust. You must trust your lawyer and your lawyer’s advice. If you don’t, find another lawyer. Strategic decisions will be left to your attorney, even if you don’t agree with every point of strategy, you must trust that your attorney is making their decisions in your best interest. The dispute resolution process is difficult and often stressful for both you and your attorney. During the process of resolving your claim you may get advice that you internally disagree with. If you do not trust your lawyer, conflicts will develop. These conflicts can derail a favorable resolution.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. If the first three points did not drive this point home, allow me to reiterate: like any relationship, communication is KEY! Cases are all about information, facts, data and opinions. The more factual data you can provide your lawyer, the better chance you have of achieving your goals. Let your attorney decide what is relevant. As your case progresses you will get fatigued, sometimes you just want to turn the issue over to someone else – you are sick of it. That is understandable, but it is critical that you continue to communicate with your lawyer. Usually, there are few other ways for your lawyer to get the information needed. We may be good at what we do but we do not read minds.                             

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When is an Irrevocable Trust Not Irrevocable?

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Decanting and the Art of Change

What is in a name?  There was a time when irrevocable meant just that.  In Colorado (and at least 24 other states); however, an irrevocable trust can now be changed by decanting.  Decanting can describe the gradual pouring of a liquid, typically wine, from one container into another.  Recently, the term “decanting” has taken on a new meaning in the legal profession where it refers to a technique whereby assets are transferred (decanted) from one trust to another trust.  Decanting essentially allows modification of an otherwise irrevocable and unamendable trust.

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40 Years of Service.

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It is with great pride that we honor Dick Lyons's 40 years of outstanding service to Lyons Gaddis. During this time Dick has set the standard of excellence within our firm, made substantial contributions to the Longmont community, and provided superlative legal services to countless clients. Anyone who has had the opportunity to interact with Dick will tell you that he is a deep thinker, a colorful raconteur, and that he has a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you, Dick Lyons, you have provided a benchmark for our firm and the greater Northern Colorado legal community.

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Supreme Court Reverses State Litigation Requirement in Takings Cases

Following the ruling in Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, a property owner may bring a claim in federal court for a violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment as soon as the government takes private property for public use without paying for it, overruling established precedent that a property owner must exhaust state court remedies before suing in federal court.  https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/knick-v-township-scott-pennsylvania/ #supremecourt #takings #landuse #realestatelaw

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Open Records and Personnel Files

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Most, if not all, government employees are aware of the general proposition of “open records.”  The general premise is that information related to the functions of government should be open to public inspection.  In Colorado, this general premise is codified in the Colorado Open Records Act, § 24-72-200.1, et seq., C.R.S. (“CORA”).  CORA applies to all local governments within Colorado including, but not limited to school districts and special districts.  At the beginning of CORA, the state General Assembly provides the following declaration on the intent of the law:

“It is declared to be the public policy of this state that all public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, except as provided in [CORA] or as otherwise specifically provided by law.”[1]

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The Firm welcomes Scott Sinclair!

Scott Sinclair

I was born in New York City, raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, and went to Cornell College in Iowa (not Cornell U. in Ithaca, NY), where I met my wife, Clare.  When we graduated, she missed her mountains (she grew up in Steamboat), so we moved to Fort Collins.  We bought our house in Loveland in 2007, and adopted our first son, Daniel, in 2012.  We have one cat, Toppers, and are going through the adoption process for our second son, Rhys.  I’ve been in legal support since 2009, most recently focusing on family law and estate planning at Clark, Williams and Matsunaka.  I enjoy hanging out with the kiddos, movies, video games, and playing and running tabletop roleplaying games. 

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Exciting news for 2019

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Jessica Wagner

Lyons Gaddis is pleased to announce some exciting news for 2019. As of January 1, we welcomed Jennifer Spitz as a new Shareholder in the firm along with her team member’s; Denise Poepping, Legal Assistant, Jessica Wagner, Legal Assistant, and Kayleigh Bloodgood as our new receptionist. We are excited for the expertise that Jennifer and her team bring to the firm. Click below to read more about our newcomers. 

 

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Colorado River Administration Changes

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The Colorado River serves over 40 million people across seven states and Mexico, and the basin has been experiencing historic drought conditions since 2000, according to the Department of the Interior.  The Upper Colorado River Commission, formed in 1948 to help the “Upper Basin” states of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah administer the Colorado River Compact, unanimously agreed Wednesday, December 12, 2018 to enter into three agreements addressing drought contingency planning.  The agreements, in conjunction with a similar set of agreements currently being negotiated between the “Lower Basin” states of California, Nevada, and Arizona, are intended to increase water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  The Lower Basin states have been given a deadline of January 31, 2019 by the federal government to complete their agreements, or risk federal involvement in the matter. 

The agreements approved by the Upper Basin states address increased collaboration between the states and the Bureau of Reclamation to manage reservoir releases in the basin, increased allowable storage in Lake Powell if such water is available for storage as a result of conservation efforts in the Upper Basin States (Lake Mead is located in the Lower Basin), and increased cooperation between the Upper and Lower Basin states regarding water conservation and increased storage in Lake Mead.

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Attorney Fee Shifting Provisions in Contracts - Not Always The Right Call

JSR Blog

Almost every contract we sign, in business or for our personal lives, has a clause that awards attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party in any lawsuit or arbitration.  This means that if you end up in a dispute - with your cell phone provider, for example - if you win, they pay your attorneys’ fees, but if they win, you pay theirs.  

These contractual provisions are intended to deter people from filing a lawsuit unless they’re absolutely certain that they’ll win.  The idea is that, if you have a chance of paying the other side’s attorneys’ fees, you’ll give serious pause before filing a lawsuit.  

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Pelotons, Rules, and the Game of Thrones

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Has the Game of Thrones descended into Boulder County? It seems as if another ancient noble family has taken root here – the Pelotons. You have seen its citizens, haven’t you? It has its own warrior class (like the unsullied) who wear uniforms and helmets out on the road. But here, whom does the Peloton battle for control and supremacy? 

It is typically the Lannisters calculating in their BMW 750is; the Targaryens’ seeking prior glory in their Tesla Model 3s; and the White Walkers hunting the living in a fleet of Ford F-150’s.

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BOCO Bar Paralegal Presentation

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Kyna Glover, paralegal at Lyons Gaddis, presented How to Become a Successful Paralegal to the Boulder County Bar Association Paralegal Section at its October 3 meeting.  Kyna shared some best practices and guidelines aimed specifically at new graduate or less experienced paralegals.  Her presentation included professionalism for working in a law firm or legal setting; interaction with attorneys, clients and the courts, and productivity suggestions for handling organization, multi-tasking, and case management.  Kyna has 28 years of experience as a paralegal and presents election trainings for Lyons Gaddis clients. She has been employed by Lyons Gaddis for 14 ½ years as the Government Practice Group’s Special District/School District paralegal supporting litigation, elections, employment, and other client matters.

 

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Record Retention

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School and special districts, along with other governmental entities, are governed by many federal and state laws, including Colorado’s state laws related to public records and their record retention periods.  Section 24-80-101, C.R.S. and following, provide the statutory framework for the legal requirements for school boards of education and special district boards of directors to follow in order to determine what public records must be preserved as permanent records, along with what public records may be destroyed and when such destruction may occur.  Without having an adopted records retention schedule approved by the Colorado State Archives, no record may be destroyed.  This article provides an overview of how to create and adopt a records retention schedule for your local government entity so that records may then legally be destroyed, as well as reviews the benefits of establishing the retention schedule.

What is a records retention schedule?  A records retention schedule lists all records maintained by the school or special district, along with how long each record must be maintained.  The schedule sets forth which records must be retained permanently and which others can be destroyed once they have exceeded the minimum retention period. The records retention schedule acts as the legal authorization by the State Archives and State Auditor to then destroy the non-permanent records.

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The Holidays Are Coming Up!

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I hear it from my family and friends earlier every year:  “Can you believe the holidays are coming up?’  I know it’s just the middle of September and we’re going to be in the 90’s all week, but I did see the Halloween decorations on the shelves at Walgreens.  So, it’s only a matter of time before that gives way to an aisle filled with Christmas stockings and red and green m&ms.  I just received my first invitation to a holiday party last week.

And what goes better with holiday festivities than lots of wine and spirits?  If you are the hosting one of these gatherings, should you be worried about your responsibility for the person who has had too much to drink?  If that person gets in his car and winds up hurting someone are you responsible?  Assuming this is purely a social event, the answer is no – sort of.  Under Colorado Revised Statute 12-47-804 a social host cannot be held responsible for injuries caused by a person who became intoxicated at your party.  The exception to the rule is if the host “knowingly served any alcohol beverage to such person who was under the age of twenty-one years or knowingly provided the person under the age of twenty-one a place to consume an alcoholic beverage.”  This liability extends even to minors who may sneak a beer for friends while mom and dad aren’t watching.  So remember, eat drink and be merry, but make sure everyone is twenty-one.

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515 Kimbark Street, Second Floor
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-776-9900 
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363 Centennial Parkway, Suite 110
Louisville, CO 80027
Phone: 720-726-3670 
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Fort Collins, CO 80525
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