Colorado Appellate Courts to Outsource Appeals
by Dick Ott
A spokesman for the Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals announced today that Colorado’s Appellate Courts will be outsourcing some of their more cumbersome appeals. The spokesman said that Colorado will be using state-of-the-art outsourcing criteria by sending some of the more technically complicated appeals to India and the Philippines, while family law and criminal appeals will go to undisclosed countries in the Middle East.
Cyrus Blackachre, a spokesman for the courts and Colorado State Judicial, described a crisis in the courts that includes a large and growing caseload that is causing Colorado’s appellate courts to get further behind with every appeal filed. After years of budget cuts combined with increasingly complicated appeals, the appellate courts were faced with the prospect of either hiring more judges or finding a creative and cost-efficient manner of dealing with all appeals.
State Judicial has embarked on an exhaustive two-week Internet survey to determine which private firms should be used. "Finding overseas justices and judges who could read up on Colorado law was a surprisingly simple task," said Mr. Blackachre. "We found many who had already read every word of the Colorado Constitution and many of the relevant cases as a part of an online Colorado law curriculum offered by local law schools." Mr. Blackachre noted that there are only two or three lawyers and two state legislators in Colorado who have, in fact, read the Colorado Constitution. "At least one of the legislators can’t be relied on to tell us what the Constitution really says, so it is good to get an outside opinion."
To test prospective appellate contractors, State Judicial sent several complex appeals to outsourcing appellate firms in India and the Philippines. Within days, rulings began to arrive back in State Judicial offices. "In each case, the decisions were properly formatted," said a pleasantly surprised clerk from the Court of Appeals who reviewed the decisions. All of the decisions were complete, had full and accurate citations, and were written in such clear and concise English that local reviewing justices and judges were stunned. "I haven’t seen a paragraph make that much sense since I graduated from law school," said one surprised justice.
In a seminal water rights case, Colorado’s justices were surprised to learn that Colorado’s conflicts with Wyoming, Kansas, and Utah over water rights could be settled once and for all by forcing neighboring states to recognize Colorado’s might, because it’s geographic size and it’s reputation for having more physically fit individuals per capita make it a formidable enemy. The cites for this interesting decision are under review.
The biggest problem thus far is with family law and criminal appeals. American family dynamics are a mystery to the foreign judges. Colorado divorce laws are remarkably difficult for them to understand, and judges coming from countries other than India were unaware that American family law jurisprudence does not involve stones. Unaccompanied American women driving cars also seemed to perplex some of the judges.
Similarly, all of the appellate writers had a very difficult time understanding what Colorado and U.S. Constitutional authorities mean by "Cruel and Unusual Punishment," because unusual punishments are considered both economical and efficient in the writers’ home countries.
One of the overseas judges, Justice M.J.B. Maskedone, noted the discrepancy between the type of person who is jailed in Colorado and one jailed in his home country. He described the difference in attitude about jailing people by saying that Americans often had "to have actually done something annoying to the law, whereas in other places an annoying thought was enough to do it." Paradoxically, in this country one in every hundred individuals is presently in jail; far fewer are jailed elsewhere.
State Judicial believes these few quirks can be worked out over the weekend and that outsourced reviewers will be hired to ensure that the appeals comport with Colorado law.