Sign of the Times: from the Colorado Supreme Court

30 Apr 20

From the Supreme Court of Colorado

To all Colorado attorneys: In these exceptional times, it seemed appropriate to bring you up to speed on some of the steps our court has taken in response to the challenges inherent in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Chief Justice Coats’s March 16 order setting general parameters around the operation of our state courts during this public health crisis, our court has been working hard on collaborative solutions to several of the most pressing problems. Because we have no authority to revise our constitution and statutory amendments are up to the legislature, we turned to our court rules as potential tools to address the current crisis.
We amended the Criminal and Juvenile Rules to allow judges to declare a mistrial when, due to a public health crisis, it is unsafe to assemble a jury. These changes ensure that trials will be held only once it is safe to call upon citizens to serve as jurors.

We have adopted an emergency rule that allows new law school graduates to practice law before taking the bar examination if the July 2020 bar examination must be postponed.

In his discussions with the Chief Judges, the Chief Justice has repeatedly emphasized the need for reduction of jail populations while continuing to protect public safety and the rights of victims, the harms of issuing eviction and foreclosure orders absent extraordinary circumstances, the need to continue hearing non-criminal matters to the extent that can be done within our available resources and using remote technology, and the need to find creative solutions to continue the important business of the courts.
The Chief Justice authorized the Chief Judges to temporarily waive certain probation standards in order to limit in-person contact and protect the health of probationers and our staff.