December 5, 2016

Rule Change 2016(12) Released, Amending the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct

On Thursday, December 1, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued Rule Change 2016(12), amending the Comment to Rule 2.1 of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. Comment [2] of Rule 2.1, “Advisor,” was changed by the addition of a sentence regarding allocations of parental responsibilities:

[2] Advice couched in narrow legal terms may be of little value to a client, especially where practical considerations, such as cost or effects on other people, are predominant. Purely technical legal advice, therefore, can sometimes be inadequate. In a matter involving the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, a lawyer should consider advising the client that parental conflict can have a significant adverse effect on minor children. It is proper for a lawyer to refer to relevant moral and ethical considerations in giving advice. Although a lawyer is not a moral advisor as such, moral and ethical considerations impinge upon most legal questions and may decisively influence how the law will be applied.

For the full text of Rule Change 2016(12), click here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Courthouse of the U.S. District Court Closed on Friday, December 9, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced a courthouse closure. On Friday, December 9, 2016, from 12:45 to 6 p.m., the courthouse will be closed for business due to a law enforcement training exercise. The Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse will be closed to the public. The Byron G. Rogers Courthouse will remain open, but no court business will be conducted. Court business in the Durango and Grand Junction courthouses will be conducted as scheduled. All electronic systems to include CM/ECF and PACER will remain in operation during this time period. For more information, click here.

Allison Ernst Appointed to 10th Judicial District

allison_ernst_attorneyOn Monday, November 14, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the governor’s appointment of Allison Ernst to the Tenth Judicial District Court. Ernst will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. David Crockenberg, effective December 7, 2016.

Ernst is currently a partner at Becker & Ernst in Pueblo, where she represents clients in the areas of criminal law, domestic relations, restraining order cases, and landlord-tenant disputes. Prior to her work at Becker & Ernst, she spent six years at the Colorado Public Defender’s Office. She is also certified as a guardian ad litem by the Colorado Office of the Child Representative for dependency and neglect actions and as a Child Legal Representative in divorce and custody matters. She received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and her law degree from Michigan State University College of Law.

For more information regarding this appointment, click here.

District of Colorado Local Rules Amended, Effective December 1, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has adopted changes to its local rules, effective December 1, 2016. The changes include a new Rule 2.1, “Forms of Action,” and an entire section on Local Patent Rules.

New Rule 2.1 clarifies that a proceeding not defined as a civil action under F.R.C.P. 2 should be filed as a civil miscellaneous (“mc”) or registered judgment (“rj”) action only if included in the List of Miscellaneous Cases. Rule 5.3 was amended by the addition of a subparagraph (c) dealing with written discovery requests or responses. The subparagraph specifies that other than in prisoner cases or as otherwise ordered, discovery requests shall be submitted by email or in other non-paper form. There were several other minor changes to various rules.

Section III on the Local Patent Rules is a comprehensive section dealing with the handling of patent claims in the U.S. District Court. The local rules are to be cited as D.C.Colo.LPtR _. The rules are to be known as the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado – Patent Rules. The rules specify that the civil local rules apply except as inconsistent with the patent rules. Topics addressed in the local patent rules include scheduling conferences and orders, discovery and confidentiality, infringement, invalidity, declaratory judgment, reliance on counsel’s opinion, claim construction, final infringement and invalidity contentions, and word limits. The remaining sections were renumbered accordingly.

Comments about the local rules may be submitted to the Advisory Committee on the Local Rules via email. For more information about the local rule changes, click here. For a redline of the changes, click here.

Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board Releases Two New Opinions

On Monday, November 14, 2016, the Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board released two new opinions.

CJEAB Opinion 2016-02 answers a judge’s question regarding whether Opinion 2007-07 remains effective in light of the repeal and reenactment of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct, and whether the judge may serve on the board of directors for the Joint Initiatives for Youth and Families of the Pikes Peak Region, since the operation of the board of directors has changed. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Board evaluated Opinion 2007-07 and determined it was no longer applicable, consequently withdrawing the opinion. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Board then concluded that a judge may serve on the board of directors of the Joint Initiatives for Youth and Families of the Pikes Peak Region, even if the board engages in legislative advocacy benefitting children and families, provided that doing so would not lead to his frequent disqualification or otherwise interfere with his ability to perform his judicial duties.  The judge must ensure that his activities as a board member do not undermine his impartiality, give rise to the appearance of impropriety, or violate other provisions of the Code.

CJEAB Opinion 2016-03 answers a judge’s question regarding whether it is permissible for him to sit on the Board of Trustees of the Colorado PERA. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Board determined that a judge elected to sit on the Board of Trustees of Colorado PERA should abstain from participating as a panelist in PERA’s administrative hearing process because such participation constitutes arbitration or another judicial function outside of a judge’s official duties and violates the Code of Judicial Conduct.

For all of the Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board opinions, click here.

Twenty-first Judicial District Announces Mesa County Court Vacancy

On Thursday, November 3, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced a vacancy on the Mesa County Court in the Twenty-first Judicial District. The vacancy will be created by the appointment of Hon. Gretchen B. Larson to the Twenty-first Judicial District Court, effective January 1, 2017.

Applications are now being accepted for the upcoming vacancy. Eligible applicants must be qualified electors of Mesa County and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Application forms are available on the State Judicial website or from the ex officio chair of the Twenty-first Judicial District Nominating Commission, Justice William Hood, III. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on December 1, 2016, to be considered. Anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than 4 p.m. on November 23, 2016.

For more information about the vacancy, click here.

Rule Change 2016(11) Adopted, Amending Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct

On Thursday, November 3, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted Rule Change 2016(11), affecting the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. The rules affected are Rule 1.15A, “General Duties of Lawyers Regarding Property of Clients and Third Parties,” Rule 1.15B, “Account Requirements,” and Rule 1.15D, “Required Records.”

A new comment [7] was added to Rule 1.15A to define “reasonable efforts” to find owners of property and explain that it is context-specific. The comment lists several potential scenarios and what would constitute “reasonable efforts” in those cases.

Rule 1.15B was changed by the addition of subsection (k), which also addresses procedures a lawyer should follow when he or she has unclaimed funds in his or her COLTAF account.

Rule 1.15D was changed by the addition of a new subsection (a)(1)(C), which specifies procedures for remitting unclaimed funds to COLTAF.

For a redline and clean version of the rule change, click here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Gretchen Larson Appointed to 21st Judicial District Court

On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the governor’s appointment of Gretchen Larson to the Twenty-first Judicial District Court Bench. She will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Thomas L. Deister, effective January 1, 2017.

Larson is currently a Mesa County Court judge. She was appointed to the bench in 2006, and she oversees a mix of civil and criminal cases. Prior to her appointment to the Mesa County Court, Larson was a District Attorney in the Twenty-first and Ninth judicial districts. She received her undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University and her law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law.

For more information about the appointment, click here.

Tenth Circuit Announces Inflationary Fee Increases

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals announced that, effective December 1, 2016, certain fees will be increased to account for inflation. The fee increases will affect the fee for conducting a search of the court of appeals and bankruptcy appellate panel records, which will increase from $30 to $31; the fee for reproducing recordings of proceedings, which will increase from $30 to $31; the fee for reproducing the record in any appeal in which the court of appeals does not require an appendix, which will increase from $83 to $86; the fee for original admission of attorney to practice, including a certificate of admission, which will increase from $176 to $181 (the current total admission fee for the Tenth Circuit Bar will remain the same at $225); and the fee for a duplicate certificate of admission or certificate of good standing, which will increase from $18 to $19.

Finalists Selected for Judgeship on 10th Judicial District Court

On Monday, October 31, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the selection of three finalists for a vacancy on the Tenth Judicial District Court. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Hon. David W. Crockenberg, effective Dec. 17, 2016. The three finalists are Allison Ernst of Pueblo, Gregory Styduhar of Pueblo, and Steven Fieldman of Pueblo West.

Allison Ernst is a partner at Becker & Ernst in Pueblo, a firm that practices personal injury, DUI defense, criminal defense, and family law. Gregory Styduhar is the Pueblo County Attorney. Steven Fieldman is a Pueblo County Court Judge, where he was appointed in 2007.

Comments regarding the finalists can be emailed to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us. Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days from October 31 in which to select one of the nominees for appointment. For more information about the nominees, click here.

CJD 05-01, “Directive Concerning Access to Court Records,” Amended by Colorado Supreme Court

On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted changes to Chief Justice Directive 05-01, “Directive Concerning Access to Court Records.” The changes to this Chief Justice Directive were proposed by the Public Access Committee, and they replace previous public access policies. The changes include clarification of wording that was causing confusion, a mandate that court records involving a child victim be redacted before being released to the public, inclusion of applications for public defenders, court-appointed counsel, or guardians ad litem as not accessible to the public, and changes to Appendix C for consistency purposes. The full Chief Justice Directive is available here.

Sharon Holbrook Appointed to 17th Judicial District Court Bench

On Wednesday, October 5, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the governor’s appointment of Sharon Holbrook to the district court bench in the Seventeenth Judicial District. Holbrook will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Francis C. Wasserman, effective October 17, 2016.

Currently, Holbrook is a district court magistrate in the Seventeenth Judicial District, where she oversees domestic relations cases. She has also completed rotations in the criminal and civil divisions. Prior to her appointment as magistrate, Holbrook served for ten years in the Adams County District Attorney’s Office, with the last four years in the position of Senior Trial Deputy for the Child Victim Unit. She teaches extensively on child physical and sexual abuse and abusive infant head trauma. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Utah and her law degree from Willamette University College of Law.

For more information about the appointment, click here.