County files appeal of use tax decision

RBC I It’s not over. Not yet anyway.
Rio Blanco County, on Friday, filed a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court, asking it to reconsider its decision in the use tax case.
On Nov. 9, the supreme court ruled against the county in its long-running use tax dispute with energy company ExxonMobil, affirming a previous decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals.
“We asked them to either withdraw the court of appeals opinion from publication, which would not control the trial court if we were to have another case, or someone else would have a case, that there wouldn’t be a decision out there that controls the results,” said attorney Malcolm Murray, who has represented the county in the use tax case. “And we asked them to reconsider (the case) and allow us to brief it again and argue it again.”
The chances the court will rehear the county’s case may be slim, Murray admitted.
“I really don’t (expect the court to rehear the case),” he said. “It can happen, but it doesn’t happen very often. It’s very unlikely, but it’s an unusual set of circumstances to begin with.”
The supreme court was evenly divided in its decision in the use tax case. Three members of the supreme court sided with the county and three members backed ExxonMobil’s position, while one justice abstained, which left Murray and county officials perplexed.
“It was very unusual,” Murray said. “I have no idea why Justice (Nathan) Coats would decline to participate. … My assumption would be if he didn’t participate last time, that if they were to brief it again, he wouldn’t participate again.”
In asking the supreme court to withdraw the court of appeals opinion from publication, Murray said, “It means it would not control the result in a similar case. If we had another appeal with different parties, we could have a different judge and very well have a different outcome. If we had a similar case, there would be a trial and the trial court would make a decision that would not be bound by what the court of appeals said.”
Murray said he expected to receive a response from the supreme court on the county’s petition before the end of the year.