This updated blog (March 23 – 29, 2020) is to give guidance to people who have an upcoming Colorado criminal court case and don’t know what will happen. I am getting inundated with phone calls from non-clients asking me what is going to happen with my case and when do I go to Court. People are scared. They should be scared because we have never been here before. Let me assure you that it is OK, together we will get through this.
Now, let us all take a deep breath and answer all of your questions, starting with the big one.
Q. IS THERE ONE SET OF RULES FOR ALL COLORADO COURTS TO FOLLOW?
A. YES – COURT IS CLOSED WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS LEFT UP TO EACH CHIEF JUSTICE DISCRETION.
General Rule Regarding Colorado Courts
The general rule is that all Colorado courts are shut down. The exceptions are certain emergency cases that are essential to the safety and well being of citizens must still be held. What the heck does that mean… here are Colorado’s Chief Justice Nathan Coats words:
Because the courts of this state are, however, tasked with protecting the basic constitutional rights of the citizens of the state and with providing a forum for addressing matters essential to their safety and well being, I also order that the following classes of matters or operations may not be suspended and will continue in the state courts throughout this period:
- Petitions for temporary civil protection orders and permanent protection order hearings;
- Petitions for temporary emergency risk protection orders and hearings on emergency risk protection orders;
- Crim.P. Rule 5 advisement for incarcerated persons and the initial setting of bail;
- Revocation hearings on complaints to revoke probation involving an incarcerated defendant;
- Proceedings necessary to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants including bond-related matters and plea agreements for incarcerated individuals;
- Detention hearings for juvenile delinquency cases;
- Shelter hearings in dependency and neglect cases or other juvenile proceedings;
- Petitions for appointment of an emergency guardian and/or special conservator;
- Hearings on motions to restrict parenting time and parental abduction prevention; and
- Emergency mental health proceedings.
Ok, so what does that mean in English. It means that unless this is an emergency legal matter, meaning essential to the safety and well being of citizens, you do not have court. For example, if you have a parent that gets sick, the court will modify the parenting time to not make the children live with the sick parent. If someone gets arrested the court will set a bond and get them out of the jail ASAP.
Things will not always go smoothly; we have to understand that. What is not an emergency is the selling of unicorn drawings during the pandemic. In case you think I am making this up, read this federal court document from March 18th, 2020. It should be noted that criminal trial cases with imminent speedy trial deadlines through May 15, 2020, are also an exception and will be addressed by the court.
Q. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN ABOUT MY COURT DATE?
A. EACH COUNTY IS HANDLING CASES DIFFERENTLY. YOU MUST CONTACT THE COUNTY YOUR CASE IS IN TO RESCHEDULE YOUR COURT DATES.
Who Should I Contact?
So what you should do is contact the county where your court date is scheduled. Please visit the state website to learn more about each Judicial Department’s procedures during this outbreak. Each of the 22 jurisdictions is posting materials on the Judicial Department’s website with important information for jurors, litigants, and probationers about protocols for appearing in court. This information is in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak and outlines the decisions and procedures created by each court to operate during the outbreak. Information is available for county and district courts via each court’s individual web-page, and yes the links are below to make it easier for you.
Judicial District Links
1st Judicial District (Gilpin and Jefferson counties)
2nd Judicial District (Denver County, including Denver Probate and Denver Juvenile Court)
3rd Judicial District (Huerfano and Las Animas counties)
4th Judicial District (El Paso and Teller counties)
5th Judicial District (Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties)
6th Judicial District (Archuleta, La Plata, and San Juan counties)
7th Judicial District (Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties)
8th Judicial District (Jackson and Larimer counties)
9th Judicial District (Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties)
10th Judicial District (Pueblo County)
11th Judicial District (Chaffee, Custer, Fremont and Park counties)
12th Judicial District (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache counties)
13th Judicial District (Kit Carson, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington and Yuma counties)
14th Judicial District (Grand, Moffat, and Routt counties)
15th Judicial District (Baca, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Prowers counties)
16th Judicial District (Bent, Crowley and Otero counties)
17th Judicial District (Adams and Broomfield counties)
18th Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties)
19th Judicial District (Weld County)
20th Judicial District (Boulder County)
21st Judicial District (Mesa County)
22nd Judicial District (Dolores and Montezuma counties)
What is Going to Happen Next?
The answer is no one knows. While the future of our legal system is uncertain, the country will get through this. I encourage you to PLEASE CALL YOUR COURT. Then, move your court date and everything will be fine. I am resetting many of my cases until the end of May or June 2020. This is not going to be over soon so we need to accept this new reality. I hope this truly helps answer your questions. If you need to consult an attorney, feel free to give me a call at the office (303)-377-0100 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– M. Colin Bresee