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Colorado Prisoner Granted Judicial Review on Appeal

On February 4, 2010, a Colorado appellate court reversed a district court’s ruling dismissing a complaint filed by state prisoner Shawn Geerdes. Geerdes filed the complaint requesting judicial review in regard to a disciplinary conviction he received while housed at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, which is a private prison under contract with the Colorado DOC. When his conviction was upheld by the unit warden on December 2, 2008, Geerdes subsequently requested the review on January 7, 2009, which was dismissed as untimely by the district court.

On appeal, the court determined that the applicable law in this instance granted Geerdes 30 days from the “final decision of the body or officer” to file a complaint. Fortunately for Geerdes, Colorado law does not provide private prisons with the independent authority to punish prisoners; therefore, the warden’s upholding of the conviction did not constitute a “final decision” for the purpose of triggering the 30-day time period. Instead, the DOC’s Private Prisons Monitoring Unit (PPMU) is charged with reviewing all disciplinary convictions to determine their appropriateness. Since Geerdes filed his complaint within 30 after the obligatory PPMU review, he met the statutory time requirement.
Consequently, the district court’s judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. See: Geerdes v. Colorado DOC, et al., Colo. App., Div. V, # 09-CA-0644.

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Related legal case

Geerdes v. Colorado DOC