CBA LITIGATION COUNCIL
June 3, 2006 MEETING MINUTES
LOCATION: CBA offices, Denver, CO
COUNCIL MEMBERS PRESENT:
Chair: Peter Black
Vice- Chair: Alden Hill
Via Telephone: none
OTHERS PRESENT: Greg Martin; Michael Valdez; Carol Mullins (CBA – CLE)
1. CALL TO ORDER: 9:04 AM
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: The April 1, 2006 Meeting Minutes were
approved by unanimous vote.
3. GUEST SPEAKER: Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, Colorado Supreme Court. Justice Mullarkey brought with her a number of brochures commemorating the 40th anniversary of the merit selection of Colorado judges, and urged the Council to distribute them. She stated that framed proclamations for every courtroom in the state have also been disseminated.
In summary, Chief Justice Mullarkey commented upon the following:
• She and the other justices and judges have talking points to speak with rotaries and other groups concerning the benefits of the merit selection system. Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to find a forum for reaching adults. Justice Hobbs is spear-heading the effort to spread the word about the merit selection system. Justice Mullarkey encouraged the Council to contact Justice Hobbs for speaking engagements to civic groups.
• Regarding funding and staffing in district courts, during the budget downturn and ensuing budge cuts, judicial staff was cut by 13%. These positions have now been restored; however, in the interim, caseloads are 10% higher than they were at the time of the cuts. There are 31 new staff positions; they are currently in the process of allocating the positions among the judicial districts.
• The additional six district court judges approved in 2001 have finally been added, including a new Court of Appeals panel. Each new district court judge is allocated four staff people and each new court of appeals judge is allocated three staff people. These additions, together with the 31 new staff positions, will get the judiciary to within 89% of where they need to be for staffing.
• Regarding where the growth in caseloads has been seen, Justice Mullarkey stated that 750,000 new cases were filed last year. Due to the economic downturn, there has been an upswing in foreclosures and debt-related cases. Denver criminal filings are up significantly in the past two years, coinciding with the change in district attorneys. Juvenile filings are down. Meth cases are contributing significantly, with a concomitant number of D & N cases.
• The Judiciary is in the planning stages of a new building in conjunction with the museum. The planning stage will focus on how to fund the building and how to develop the site.
• In the meantime, they are completely out of room at the Court of Appeals. The appellate staff is therefore moving to leased space in the Chancery Building to make room for the new appellate panel.
• The Court of Appeals needs three more panels over the next few years. The appellate judges have a crushing burden of authoring 80-9- opinions each year. The caseload will not lessen with the addition of a new panel, but will keep the backlog from worsening.
• The Judiciary’s outreach effort includes conducting oral arguments at high schools. One in Durango was particularly successful.
• Judge cannot discuss the term limits initiative.
• The judiciary is experiencing a fairly substantial turnover in judges. Supreme Court justices have to chair nominating committee meetings; with the volume of turnover, this is becoming burdensome.
• The mentoring system is struggling, as there are not enough judges with experience to mentor the volume of new judges.
• Regarding senior judges, they are experimenting with decentralizing the process of assigning senior judges in order to increase efficiency. The problem encountered with the system is that people do not want to travel.
• Denver’s criminal court building will be occupied in 2009. Denver district court will have to decide how they are going to split the judges and the clerk’s office between the two buildings.
3. FINANCIAL REPORT: Greg Martin presented a financial handout showing the current budget of the Litigation Section. In summary, the Council is in good fiscal shape. Thus far, we have spent less than we have taken in.
4. COMMITTEE AND SUB-COMMITTEE REPORTS:
A. Supreme Court Civil Rules Committee report: Last week’s meeting was cancelled. Motion made and seconded: Peter Goldstein to continue as the Council’s representative to the Committee for another year. Approved by consensus, commendation and acclamation. No votes in opposition.
B. Board of Governors. Peter Goldstein abstained on behalf of the Council on the domestic partnership issue based upon it being an issue that did not have a bearing on the Litigation Section’s practice area, and because it was an issue on which the membership is likely divided.
C. Legislative Policy Liaison. No report as the LPC is no longer meeting since the session ended May 8.
D. CLE Sub-Committee. Carol Mullins distributed a handout reflecting attendance thus far, and the levels at which attendees have paid for the CLEs. Attendance has averaged over 40 attendees per session, with between 7 and 18 attending via videotape replay. Comparable numbers have signed up for the remaining sessions. The evaluations have been generally good; however, the session on motions practice did not go well, and all attendees were given certificates for free attendance at a CLE of their choice.
E. Professionalism Sub-Committee. No report.
F. Securities Sub-Section. No report.
G. Appellate Practice Sub-Committee. No report.
H. Section Newsletter. Peter Black stated his understanding that Kim Schutt will be issuing a newsletter after the June Council meeting.
5. LEGISLATIVE UPDATE. Michael Valdez noted that passage of Referendum C has had a pay-off for the CBA’s support in the form of additional judicial positions.
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. C.R.C.P. 26 disclosure requirements survey. The proposed survey was circulated shortly before the Council meeting. It was decided to allow additional time for Council members to review the survey and to give their comments to Greg Martin or Michael Valdez.
B. Litigator’s Bootcamp. Greg observed that Litigation Council members are getting the benefit of our investment in the program.
C. Certificate of Review Statute. Stacy Carpenter of the LPC is going to draft something, at which point the Litigation Council will appoint one or more members to participate.
D. Speakers for coming meetings. No speakers are currently lined up. Greg Martin will ask Jerry Marroney from State Judicial to speak at the October meeting.
E. Litigator’s Handbook and Letter to Judges. The letters are completed and have been sent out. Some updates have been received; an email is going out to the judges who did not respond.
F. Amicus Brief regarding Batson issue. The issue has not yet received cert. The CBA amicus committee is working on the issue with the CWBA.
8. NEW BUSINESS.
A. Revisions to Dead Man’s Statute proposed by the Probate Section. Council members need to read the email circulated by Peter Black. Peter Goldstein believes that instead of tweaking an archaic statute, there should be a major overhaul of the rule, including a move to the rules of evidence.
B. CBA Executive Council – Elizabeth Starrs, CBA President-Elect, spoke to the Council concerning the CBA’s efforts in opposition to the proposed ballot initiatives to term limit appellate judges. The Executive Council has created an issues committee. Greg Martin and Elizabeth Starrs updated the Council on preliminary insights and strategy.
C. Jon Sands raised a concern concerning the exercise of peremptory challenges which arose in a recent trial in Jefferson County. The judge required the parties to exercise their first peremptory on the first six jurors. Apparently there is a move afoot among some district court judges to impose such restrictions.
D. Peter Goldstein reminded Council members to send a letter to the Rules Committee specifically delineating problems with the applications of an civil rule.
9. ADJOURNED. -- Next Meeting – July 29, 2006, at 3:00 p.m., followed by the Rockies game.
/s/ Lorraine Parker
for Michael Chapman, Secretary