Courting Change in Colorado: A Flurry of Rule and Form Updates Greet 2012
by Zachary Willis
e’re just a few months into the new year and already a host of rule changes and updates have been handed down from the Colorado courts, with many changes being released so quickly (and sometimes with such little fanfare) that you may have missed them. At CBA-CLE Legal Connection, a blog published by CBA-CLE, we track these updates daily, so attorneys can stay up to date and not miss critical changes affecting their practice.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the biggest and most recent changes:
CFI Guidelines Amended
The Colorado Supreme Court amended three Chief Justice Directives at the end of 2011, which concerned court appointment and payment procedures of child and family investigators, as well as court-appointed counsel, guardians ad litem, and court visitors. Colorado State Judicial also revised JDF 1318 ("Order Appointing Child and Family Investigator") to reflect the changes. Review CJD 04-08 and CJD 04-05 for a full description of the amendments.
Additionally, the CJD governing court appointments through the Office of the Child’s Representative was amended. Review CJD 04-06, which was adopted to assist the administration of justice through the best interest appointment and training of guardians ad litem, attorney child and family investigators, and child’s representatives appointed on behalf of children under 18, for more information.
Revised Local Rules and Case Filing Requirements in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado approved revisions to its Local Rules of Practice, which became effective in December 2011. Among the changes, formerly customary magistrate judge settlement conferences have been significantly cut back. With strained judicial resources and a booming industry of private mediators, the revised rule puts the burden on counsel to show good reason to have such a judicially-performed conference. Additionally, as of Feb. 23, attorneys are required to open civil cases via ECF and provide payment via pay.gov. Other changes include procedures for opening a case and summons forms issuance. Also, the court has provided a list of cases that must be filed via email and will be opened by the Clerk’s Office.
Colorado Procedure Rules Amended to Adopt "Rule of Seven" Time Calculations
Potentially the most sweeping rule changes to affect lawyers in many years, significant amendments were made to procedural time calculations. The changes were made across the board to the Colorado procedure rules, including the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Appellate Rules, Rules of Probate Procedure, Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Municipal Court Rules of Procedure, and Rules for Magistrates. Changes also were made to the Uniform Local Rules for All State Water Court Divisions.
Most of the changes became effective Jan. 1, with others being implemented later this year in July. The amendments conform these rules to the "rule of seven" for procedural time periods. This change, adopting multiples of a week, prevents a deadline from falling on a weekend. Among many other changes, the revised rules eliminate the three-day mail rule. Review Rule Change 2011(18) and Rule Change 2011(19) for a full description of the amendments.
Filing Fees Temporarily Reduced in Certain Civil Actions
In mid-January, Chief Justice Michael Bender announced a temporary reduction in filing fees across Colorado courts for certain civil actions. CJD 12-02 temporarily decreases filing fees credited to the Justice Stabilization fund, which must maintain no more than a 16 percent excess fund balance. To comply with this statutory requirement, the fees must be reduced. As necessary, the Chief Justice may later increase these fees to their statutorily permitted level. All of the reduced fee levels are outlined in Appendix A to the directive.
JDF Forms Amended to Comply with New Fees and Civil Procedure Rules
Stemming from the massive civil procedure rule changes and new fees, Colorado State Judicial has begun reviewing and completely revising their database of forms and instructions to comply with the new time calculation and fee requirements. State Judicial has begun issuing revised forms but cautions that it is always the parties’ responsibility to ensure compliance with the procedural rules. It is therefore important to review the time calculation rule changes before filing, because many of the forms have not yet been reviewed or changed.
To date, many forms and instructions in areas of adoption, appeals, county civil/district civil, criminal, domestic/family, juvenile, paternity, probate, and water have been updated.
New and Revised Forms for the Civil Access Pilot Project
The Civil Access Pilot Project began Jan. 1 in select courts and has its own amended version of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure concerning pleading, discovery, and trial management. The two-year project, an effort by the courts to study whether control of the discovery process reduces the expense of civil litigation in certain business actions, also has a number of new and revised forms to be used for appropriate cases. The special forms, along with more detailed information about the Pilot Project, a comparison of its rules to existing rules, and a rules timetable have been posted online by Colorado State Judicial.
Colorado Appellate Courts Adopt New Public Domain Case Citation Format
This new public domain citation format allows practitioners and parties to directly cite to new opinions from the moment they are announced, instead of waiting until they are published in the Pacific Reporter. Colorado now joins 16 other states that have adopted such a citation format. Practitioners and parties will be permitted to use the public domain citation format or to cite to the Pacific Reporter, and they will not have to provide parallel citations in either format. Opinions that are not designated for official publication will not be assigned a public domain citation.
Take a minute to review these updates online, and if you’d like to stay on top of future court developments and other Colorado legal updates, consider a free subscription to CBA-CLE Legal Connection (cbaclelegalconnection.com/subscription-options). It will show up in your email or RSS feed. We cover case law, legislation, rule and form changes, law practice management tips, local legal updates, and community events. It’s an easy way to stay on top of an ever-changing legal landscape. D
Zachary Willis, Esq., is a legal editor at the Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education. He manages the content for CBA-CLE Legal Connection.