Montezuma judge erred in 2015 sentencing, appeals court says

The Colorado Court of Appeals has sent a 2015 ruling back to Montezuma District Court after deciding that Judge Doug Walker failed to properly record the number of days that a defendant served in jail.

The case involves Gabriel Michael Gallegos, 34, who was sentenced to four years in jail in May 2015 after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges. He was arrested in November 2014 for selling methamphetamine to an undercover agent while he was still on parole in an unrelated case. He then spent 147 days in jail while facing trial in the meth case.

During sentencing in May 2015, prosecutors argued that Gallegos wasn’t entitled to credit for time served because he was on parole while he was in jail. Walker agreed.

In his Feb. 9 opinion, appeals court Judge Steve Bernard agreed with the trial court that the days should not be awarded as credit for time served. But he said the trial court erred by failing to record on the sentencing order the number of days Gallegos had served.

Bernard’s opinion states that the case will be remanded back to the trial court so that the number of days Gallegos served can be added to his sentencing order. It will be left up to the Colorado Department of Corrections, and not to the court, to decide how or whether to apply the days Gallegos served.

“The effect of this ruling on the defendant’s actual sentence is nil,” 22nd Judicial District Attorney Will Furse said in an email. “The Court of Appeals did not call into question the defendant’s guilt or enjoyment of due process of law. Rather, the Court of Appeals has simply informed Judge Walker that it’s his duty and obligation as a sentencing judge to notate presentence confinement credit on this and all future sentencing orders.”