COVID-19 Update: Colorado State Courts

During an unprecedented time where operations of the court are limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado Court system is responding in a way that promotes and supports the operation of the judicial branch of government while maintaining the public’s access to justice.

June 12, 2019 Update:

Each jurisdiction is posting materials and important information on their website for jurors, litigants, and probationers about protocols for appearing in courts. This information reflects the decisions and procedures created by each court to operate during the outbreak.

April 27, 2020 Update:

The Colorado courts have taken these actions:

  • The Colorado Courts have amended the Criminal Rules, allowing remote hearings in a way that protects the rights to both defendants and victims.
  • The Colorado Courts have amended the Criminal and Juvenile Rules to allow judges to declare a mistrial when the public health crisis has made the assembly of juries unsafe. This allows trials to be held only once it is safe to call citizens to serve as jurors.
  • The Colorado Courts have amended Criminal Rules to allow a person to request a sentence reduction during the pendency of a direct appeal.
  • The Colorado Courts have amended Rules of Civil Procedure and the Probate Rules to avoid unnecessary in-person contact by allowing returns of service to go without notarization.
  • If the July 2020 bar examination must be postponed the courts have adopted a rule allowing new law school graduates to practice law prior to taking the bar examination.

Each non-appellate courthouse differs in their ability to hold proceedings consistent with CDC recommendations, their audio-visual capabilities, infrastructure, and resources. Each Chief Judge has entered administrative orders addressing each courthouse’s operations. The Chief Justice has emphasized the importance of jail population reduction while protecting public safety and victim rights, the harms of issuing eviction and foreclosure orders absent extraordinary circumstances, the need to continue hearing non-criminal matters to the extent possible, and the need to find creative solutions to continue important court business. The Chief Justice has authorized Chief Judges to temporarily waive certain probation standards to limit in-person contact and protect the health of probationers and staff.

In concert with the State Court Administrator’s Office, Colorado Courts have changed the way the Courts serve the public. Colorado Court have installed remote technology, and the IT division of the State Court Administrator’s Office has been installing, training, and troubleshooting technology to allow judges to connect with attorneys, parties, victims, and the public. The technology is being rolled out statewide and is enabling the courts to conduct urgent criminal proceedings and will allow more non-criminal cases to proceed with the use of the technology.

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