Term Year 2016

Nelson v. Colorado

Petitioner Shannon Nelson was convicted by a Colorado jury of two felonies and three misdemeanors arising from the alleged sexual and physical abuse of her four children. The trial court imposed a prison term of 20 years to life and ordered her to pay $8,192.50 in court costs, fees, and restitution. On appeal, Nelson’s conviction was reversed for trial error, and on retrial, she was acquitted of all charges. Petitioner Louis Alonzo Madden was convicted by a Colorado jury of attempting to patronize a prostituted child and attempted sexual assault. The trial court imposed an indeterminate prison sentence and ordered him to pay $4,413.00 in costs, fees, and restitution. After one of Madden’s convictions was reversed on direct review and the other vacated on postconviction review, the State elected not to appeal or retry the case. The Colorado Department of Corrections withheld $702.10 from Nelson’s inmate account between her conviction and acquittal, and Madden paid the State $1,977.75 after his conviction. In both cases, the funds were allocated to costs, fees, and restitution. Once their convictions were invalidated, both petitioners moved for return of the funds. Nelson’s trial court denied her motion outright, and Madden’s postconviction court allowed a refund of costs and fees, but not restitution. The Colorado Court of Appeals concluded that both petitioners were entitled to seek refunds of all they had paid, but the Colorado Supreme Court reversed.