The Colorado State Court System
- County Court: This court has jurisdiction over civil cases with an amount in controversy of up to $15,000.
- District Court:: The District Court can hear civil cases in any amount. This court also hears appeals from the County Court.
- Court of Appeals: The Colorado Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over appeals from the District Court. It can also review decisions from certain state administrative agencies.
- Supreme Court: This court is the court of last resort in Colorado. It has jurisdiction over appeals from the Court of Appeals. It can also hear direct appeals from lower courts in certain cases, for example where a statute has been held to be unconstitutional.
*Some of the above courts in the Colorado State Court System also have jurisdiction over certain criminal proceedings which are not covered here.
In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 21 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer (if the Defendant was served outside the state of Colorado, the response may be filed within 35 days). The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.
After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:
- Written Discovery: is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:
- Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
- Depositions: In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Per the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys must advise clients of alternative forms of dispute resolution that might be reasonably pursued to resolve the dispute. The law requires that parties to a lawsuit meet within 15 days after the case is filed to discuss settlement.
In 1983, the Colorado Legislature passed the Dispute Resolution Act, which established the Office of Dispute Resolution within the judicial department. As a result, parties may choose to resolve their dispute either by way mediation or arbitration.
- Mediation is an intervention in dispute negotiations by a trained neutral third party with the purpose of assisting the parties in reaching their own solution.
- Arbitration is the referral of a dispute to one or more neutral third parties for a decision based on evidence and testimony given by the parties.
If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.
Motions and Appeals
After the jury returns their verdict, the parties may file post trial motions and/or appeal the verdict to the appropriate appellate court in Colorado.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Colorado. Should you have a question/concern specific to Colorado law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado.