01 Apr The Courts Are Closed. What Does That Mean for My Case?
On March 16, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court mandated that each county put together a plan for operations during the COVID crisis. Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, Eagle have announced they are open to the public “for emergency matters only through April 10, 2020.” Boulder and Summit County have announced “limited operations through April 17, 2020.” Jefferson, Adams, Broomfield have announced that all non-emergency appearances through May 1 will be vacated and continued. Denver has announced “reduced operations and staff in order to provide only essential court services through May 15, 2020.” El Paso and Teller counties that “most services…are closed for regular business.” Larimer County has announced that the clerk’s office will not accept paper filings addressing anything other than “essential proceedings” through May 15, 2020. Pitkin and Garfield have no official announcements on their websites but appear to have been taking actions to vacate and continue individual cases.
While we don’t know exactly how long this will go on, here at BAM we expect these closures to last quite a bit longer than many counties have announced just yet. What does this mean for you?
So even though courts have closed, many standard deadlines are still in place. When a Motion is filed in your case, a Response is still due 21 days later. Witness disclosures and discovery requests are still due 63 days before hearing dates, and financial disclosures are still due 42 days after the filing of a Petition or Motion to Modify. Expert reports are still due 56 days before hearing dates.
We have found that many courts are readily granting continuance requests, even when opposed. We are also running into difficulty when appointing parenting experts (CFIs and PREs), as many of those experts view meeting with parents and children in person as necessary for their work (but are unwilling to do so at this time). Those cases will likely need to be continued so that experts have sufficient time to complete their work.
We are also expecting that these court closures will create a backlog of cases with the courts. Many courts have been faced with such long lists of cases that need rescheduling that they have said “don’t call us to reschedule; we will call you.” Adding even a two-month backlog of case settings may result in significant delay in certain counties. We have been looking into alternatives for time-sensitive cases, including moving certain cases to arbitration and private judges. If you have any questions about how your case may be affected, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are committed to taking all steps necessary to keep cases on track as much as possible.