On November 30, we filed an amicus brief, along with the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, urging the Colorado Supreme Court to reaffirm Colorado’s longstanding equal protection guarantee.

In Mobley v. City of Rifle, Jeremiah and Michelle Mobley allegedly stole two shirts worth $30 total from a boutique in Rifle and were charged with “Theft Under $100 in Value” under the Rifle Municipal Code, which provides for a punishment of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. If the Mobleys had been charged with the same crime under state law, however, then the maximum fine would have been $300, and the maximum sentence would have been ten days in prison. The Mobleys argued that this discrepancy between municipal and state law is unconstitutional, in part because the due-process clause of the Colorado Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law.

As our amicus brief explains, where a municipal code provides for penalties harsher than the maximum penalties under state law, a person convicted under the harsher penalty is denied equal protection. While the Colorado Constitution gives “Home Rule Cities” like Rifle constitutional powers, including legislative powers, these cities cannot deny citizens rights that all other Coloradans enjoy. The Colorado Constitution has been interpreted to provide greater due-process protections than the federal Constitution, and our brief argues that the Colorado Supreme Court’s existing due-process precedent is well founded and well settled. We hope the Court will reaffirm that Colorado’s equal protection guarantee is violated when two laws punish identical conduct differently, and hold that the Mobleys cannot be punished under the harsher Rifle Municipal Code theft provision.


Timothy R. Macdonald, Anna I. Kurtz, Emma Mclean-Riggs, Sara R. Neel, and Laura Moraff

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Robert C. Blume, Al Kelly, Daniel R. Magalotti, and Ming Lee Newcomb of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Date filed

November 30, 2023


Supreme Court of Colorado


In State Supreme Court

Case number