June 16, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Pro Se Plaintiff Practiced Law by Attempting to Litigate Minor Child’s Claims

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Cikraji v. Snowberger on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Summary Judgment—Colorado Governmental Immunity Act—Unauthorized Practice of Law.

Plaintiff’s son C.C. was a member of the Durango High School cross-country team, and he agreed to be bound by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) bylaws. Plaintiff requested permission to remove C.C. from school to go on a trip to Ohio. While in Ohio, C.C. competed in the U.S. Air Force 10k and won. After the trip, defendant Perrin (DHS’s athletic director) informed plaintiff that C.C. would be disciplined for violating the CHSAA Outside Competition Rule because C.C. had not received permission to compete in the 10k. C.C. was suspended from a single cross-country meet.

Plaintiff e-mailed various defendants about the suspension. He also attended a Durango Board of Education meeting, where he argued that the behavior of defendant McMillian (C.C.’s cross-country coach) was bullying.

Plaintiff thereafter filed a pro se complaint alleging that defendants violated his and C.C.’s “rights.” Defendants filed motions to dismiss and plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court denied plaintiff’s requested summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of defendants. In pertinent part, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish that he followed the notice provisions of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA), and therefore, the court was without jurisdiction to consider his claims.

The Court of Appeals noted many deficiencies in plaintiff’s pro se brief, but nonetheless considered his arguments. Plaintiff was the only named plaintiff, but his claims were almost exclusively belonging to his son and, by representing and acting on his son’s behalf, he was engaging in the practice of law. Because plaintiff is not a licensed attorney in Colorado, he cannot represent his son in court proceedings. The Court dismissed those portions of plaintiff’s appeal representing his son with prejudice. To the extent plaintiff’s claims addressed injuries to himself, the Court affirmed the summary judgment in favor of defendants, because plaintiff failed to comply with the jurisdictional notice requirements of the CGIA. Those portions of the appeal plaintiff filed on behalf of C.C were dismissed with prejudice, and the judgment was otherwise affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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