October 19, 2018

Colorado Court of Appeals: Supervising Attorney Must Be Present in Courtroom at All Critical Stages of Case

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. McGlaughlin on Thursday, August 8, 2018.

Civil ProcedureStudent AttorneySixth AmendmentRight to Counsel. 

McGlaughlin pleaded guilty to third degree assault and violation of a protection order. He was represented by a law student extern practicing under C.R.C.P. 205.7. Thereafter, McGlaughlin moved to vacate his plea and the resulting convictions, claiming that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel when he was represented only by a law student, not a licensed lawyer, at his plea hearing. The postconviction court denied McGlaughlin’s Crim. P. 35(c) motion without a hearing, concluding that the record disproved McLaughlin’s claim.

On appeal, McGlaughlin argued that his plea was constitutionally invalid under the Sixth Amendment because he was not represented by a licensed lawyer at a critical stage of his criminal case. When a criminal defendant is represented by a student attorney under C.R.C.P. 205.7, a supervising attorney must be physically present in the courtroom during all critical stages of the criminal case. If the supervising attorney is not present during a critical stage, the defendant is denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The record here did not clearly establish that the supervising attorney was present during defendant’s plea hearing.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded to the postconviction court for an evidentiary hearing and further findings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Trial Court Erred in Granting New Trial for Reasons Not Enumerated in C.R.C.P. 59(d)

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Rains on Monday, June 25, 2018.

C.R.C.P. 59(d)—Proper Grounds for New Trial.

In this case, the supreme court considered whether the trial court abused its discretion when it granted plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial after a jury found that defendants, two pilots, were not negligent during a near collision that resulted in one plane crashing and killing all five passengers on board. The court concluded that the trial court’s stated reasons did not meet the grounds enumerated in C.R.C.P. 59(d) and that a trial court may not grant a new trial for reasons other than those enumerated in C.R.C.P. 59(d). Thus, the trial court abused its discretion in granting a new trial. The court made its rule to show cause absolute and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Trial Courts Must Review Claims in Amended Complaint to Evaluate Eligibility for Jury Trial

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Mason v. Farm Credit of Southern Colorado on Monday, June 4, 2018.

ACA—C.R.C.P. 38—Right to a Jury Trial—Legal or Equitable—Basic Thrust Test.

This case concerns the right to a jury trial in a civil case. The supreme court considered whether trial courts must review the claims in a plaintiff’s amended complaint, as opposed to those in its original complaint, to determine whether a party is entitled to a jury trial under C.R.C.P. 38. The court concluded that its prior cases and the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure require it to answer that question affirmatively. Accordingly, the court held that when a plaintiff amends its complaint and a party properly demands a jury trial under C.R.C.P. 38, the trial court should determine whether the case may be tried to a jury based on the claims in the amended complaint. The court further held that C.R.C.P. 38 permits a case to be tried to a jury when the claims in the plaintiff’s amended complaint are primarily legal, as opposed to equitable. Finally, after examining respondents’ amended complaint, the court concluded that respondents’ claims against petitioner are primarily legal. Thus, petitioner was entitled to a jury trial under C.R.C.P. 38.

The court of appeals’ judgment was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Rules of Civil Procedure, JDF 601, and Form 4 Amended in Rule Changes 2018(05) and 2018(06)

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court issued two rule changes. Rule Change 2018(05) amends Form 4, “Petition for Postconviction Relief Pursuant to Crim. P. 35(c),” and Rule Change 2018(06) amends Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1, “Simplified Procedure for Civil Actions,” and JDF 601, “District Court Civil Case Cover Sheet for Initial Pleading of Complaint, Counterclaim, Cross-Claim, or Third-Party Complaint and Jury Demand.”

The changes to C.R.C.P. 16.1 are extensive, and contain multiple changes to the first several subsections, including “Purpose of Simplified Procedure,” “Actions Subject to Simplified Procedure,” “Civil Cover Sheet,” “Motion for Exclusion from Simplified Procedure,” and more. There is also new Comment to the Rule that explains the reasoning for the changes.

For the full text of the 2018 rule changes, click here. For all of the court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Updated Regarding Legal and Judicial Education

On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released Rule Change 2018(04), adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court on March 15, 2018, and effective on July 1, 2018. The rule change adds C.R.C.P. 250 and amends C.R.C.P. 260, both rule sets titled “Mandatory Continuing Legal and Judicial Eduction.”

The new Rules 250.1 through 250.10 comprehensively define the continuing education requirements of lawyers and judges. The new rules make some changes from the previously enacted rules. Specifically, the definition of which activities will be accredited has been expanded, and now activities related to wellness, diversity, law practice management, leadership, professionalism, and more may qualify for accreditation.

Another major change enacted with the new rules is that lawyers are required to track compliance with CLE requirements until age 72. Lawyers who had previously aged out under the former limit of age 65 will now be required to continue tracking credits until they reach age 72, beginning with the effective date of the new rules (July 1, 2018).

The new rules also clarify that lawyers may receive CLE credit for certain pro bono activities, participation in the CAMP program, and mentoring. Attorneys who mentor can receive CLE credit for mentoring each year, while mentees can only receive CLE credit one time.

The former rules, codified at C.R.C.P. 260 through 260.8, were amended to reference the new rules, as appropriate.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Had Jurisdiction to Consider Wife’s Motion Filed One Day Before Expiration of Jurisdictional Period

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of Runge on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Dissolution of Marriage—Post-Decree—C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10)—Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Disclosures.

In this post-dissolution of marriage dispute, wife moved under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) to discover and allocate assets that she alleged husband did not disclose or misrepresented in the proceedings surrounding their 2011 separation agreement. Husband moved to dismiss wife’s motion and the district court granted the dismissal.

As an initial matter, husband contended that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) because the five-year period during which it may reallocate assets expired the day after wife moved for such relief. C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) does not limit the court’s jurisdiction to rule on timely motions if the five-year period expires before the ruling. Therefore, the district court had jurisdiction to rule on the motion because wife’s motion was timely filed within the five-year period under the rule.

On appeal, wife contended that the district court erred by not applying the “plausibility” standard announced in Warne v. Hall, 2016 CO 50, when granting husband’s motion to dismiss. The Warne “plausibility” standard does not apply here because wife’s motion was not a pleading and husband’s motion to dismiss was not pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

Wife also contended that the district court erred by ruling that she did not state sufficient grounds in her motion and that the court should have allowed her to conduct discovery to prove her allegations. Wife did not allege that husband failed to disclose specific items mandated under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) and husband certified that he provided all such items. Instead, wife asserted suspicions and speculations that husband likely failed to disclose and misrepresented assets. In light of the information about husband’s assets that wife had pre-decree, and her choice to enter into a separation agreement rather than to evaluate this information, wife’s motion did not state sufficient grounds to trigger an allocation of misstated or omitted assets. Further, C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) was not intended to create a right for an ex-spouse to conduct discovery into the other spouse’s assets post-decree.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Rule Change 2017(12) Issued, Amending Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure

On Thursday, December 7, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued Rule Change 2017(12), amending the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

Rule 16 was amended to reference new forms available to use when offering records of regularly conducted activity pursuant to CRE 902(11) and (12). The new forms, Form 37 and Form 38, were introduced, and Forms 10 and 11 were amended. These changes are effective immediately.

Rule 53, “Masters,” was introduced, effective January 1, 2018. The rule provides guidelines for the appointment of masters. Rule 121, § 1-15 was also amended effective January 1, 2018, to delete specific page requirements of briefs and instead refer to Rule 10(d), and also to add information about self-represented parties.

Finally, Rule 120, “Orders Authorizing Foreclosure Sale Under Power in a Deed of Trust to the Public Trustee,” was significantly amended. These changes are effective March 1, 2018.

A redline and clean copy of the rule change is available here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: C.R.C.P. 106 Time Limit for Filing is Constitutional As Applied

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Adams v. Sagee on Thursday, October 19, 2017.

Citizen Right of Initiative—Filing Deadline.

Plaintiffs petitioned to present a ballot initiative to the residents of Sheridan. Sheridan’s City Clerk, Sagee, rejected some of the signatures plaintiffs had collected, leaving them short of the number required for the initiative to be considered. Plaintiffs contested the decision, and the City Clerk upheld it after a protest hearing. Plaintiffs filed a complaint in district court 35 days later pursuant to C.R.S. § 31-11-110(3). The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiffs failed to file within the C.R.C.P. 106 28-day time limit.

On appeal, plaintiffs conceded that the 28-day jurisdictional bar applied and they filed 35 days after the relevant final decision. They argued that strict application of the time limit to them as pro se parties deprived them of their constitutional right of initiative. The Colorado Court of Appeals construed plaintiffs’ argument to be an as-applied challenge to the constitutionality of the statutory time bar. The court found plaintiffs pro se status irrelevant; pro se parties must comply with procedural rules to the same extent as parties represented by attorneys. The court concluded that applying C.R.C.P. 106(b)’s jurisdictional deadline to plaintiffs’ Rule 106(a)(4) petition does not deprive them of or unduly burden their constitutional right of initiative.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules for Magistrates Amended in Rule Change 2017(06)

On May 25, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted Rule Change 2017(06), which amends Rule 52 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules 5 and 6 of the Colorado Rules for Magistrates. The changes are effective July 1, 2017.

Rule 52 was amended to change the last sentence, which now provides that “Findings of fact and conclusions of law are unnecessary on decisions on motions under Rule 12 or 56 or any other motion except as provided in these rules or other law.” Previously, it read “Findings of fact and conclusions of law are unnecessary on decisions of motions under Rule 12 or 56 or any other motion except as provided in Rule 41(b).” A new 2017 comment explains the reason for the change:

The final sentence of the former version of the rule, “Findings of fact and conclusions of law are unnecessary on decisions of motions under Rule 12 or 56 or any other motion except as provided in Rule 41(b),” was replaced because of requirements for findings and conclusions in rules other than Rule 41(b) and in some statutes. Regardless, judges are encouraged to include in decisions on motions sufficient explanation that would be helpful to the parties and a reviewing court. Thus, even where findings and conclusions are not required, the better practice is to explain in a decision on any contested, written motion the court’s reasons for granting or denying the motion.

C.R.M. 5 was amended to add a subsection (g) and renumber the prior subsection (g) as (h). Subsection (g) reads as follows:

(g) For any proceeding in which a district court magistrate may perform a function only with consent under C.R.M. 6, the notice — which must be written except to the extent given orally to parties who are present in court — shall state that all parties must consent to the function being performed by the magistrate.

(1) If the notice is given in open court, then all parties who are present and do not then object shall be deemed to have consented to the function being performed by the magistrate.

(2) Any party who is not present when the notice is given and who fails to file a written objection within 7 days of the date of written notice shall be deemed to have consented.

C.R.M. 6(a)(1)(I) was amended by changing statutory references within the subsection and changing the Act cited from the Uniform Act for Out-of-State Parolee Supervision to the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. Additionally, a new subsection (f) was added to C.R.M. 6, which reads, “A district court magistrate shall not perform any function for which consent is required under any provision of this Rule unless the oral or written notice complied with Rule 5(g).”

For a redline of Rule Change 2017(06), click here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Amended in First Rule Change of 2017

On Monday, January 23, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced Rule Change 2017(01), effective January 12, 2017. Rule Change 2017(01) amends several rules of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. The changes to Rules 17, 40, 60, 122, 305.5, and 121 §§ 1-14, 1-19, 1-23, and 1-26, as well as the changes to JDF 1111, are effective immediately. The changes to Rules 33, 103, 403, Form 20, and forms accompanying 103 and 403, are effective March 1, 2017.

The changes to Rule 33 affect pattern interrogatories and responses. The changes are quite extensive. A comment was added to Rule 33 to explain

[1] Pattern interrogatories [Form 20, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 33(e)] have been modified to more appropriately conform to the 2015 amendments to C.R.C.P. 16, 26, and 33. A change to or deletion of a pre-2017 pattern interrogatory should not be construed as making that former interrogatory improper, but instead, only that the particular interrogatory is, as of the effective date of the 2017 rule change, modified as stated or no longer a “pattern interrogatory.”

[2] The change to C.R.C.P. 33(e) is made to conform to the holding of Leaffer v. Zarlengo, 44 P.3d 1072 (Colo. 2002).

Rules 103 and 403 were amended to conform dates to the “Rule of 7” and to provide clarification regarding garnishments. The changes to Rules 103 and 403 are substantially similar. Forms 26, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 33 were also amended. The jurat or Return of Service was removed from each form, and other changes were made to conform to the changes to Rules 103 and 403.

Rule 17 was amended to remove reference to “a married woman.” A citation was updated in Rule 41. Rule 60 was updated to conform to the “Rule of 7.” Section 1-14 of Rule 121 was amended to update the citation to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and update the date of the comment. A citation was also updated in Rule 121, § 1-19, and a date was added to the comment.

Rule 121, § 1-23 was amended to add a paragraph (7) regarding bonding over liens. The new paragraph reads:

7. Bonding over a Lien. If a money judgment has been made a lien upon real estate by the filing of a transcript of the judgment record by the judgment creditor, the lien shall be released upon the motion of the judgment debtor or other interested party if a bond for the money judgment has been approved and filed as provided in this section 1-23. The order of the court releasing the lien may be recorded with the clerk and recorder of the county where the property is located. Once the order is recorded, all proceedings by the judgment creditor to enforce the judgment lien shall be discontinued, unless a court orders otherwise.

The comment to § 1-23 was amended to add a date and paragraph numbering. The changes to § 1-26 of Rule 121 also add dates and numbers to the comment, and a new 2017 comment was added to § 1-26.

The amendments to Rule 305.5 also add dates and numbers to the comments, and a new 2017 comment was added regarding the name of the court-authorized e-filing service provider. Rule 122 was changed to update contact information requirements for appointed judges, and to remove language from the affirmation.

JDF 1111, the Sworn Financial Statement, was updated to remove language from the Certificate of Service regarding simultaneous filing of JDF 1104.

A redline of Rule Change 2017(01) is available here. For all the court’s adopted and proposed Rule Changes, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: “Plausible on its Face” Standard Applies to Motions to Dismiss

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Warne v. Hall on Monday, June 27, 2016.

Civil Procedure—Pleading.

Warne petitioned for review of the Colorado Court of Appeals’ judgment reversing the dismissal of Hall’s complaint, which asserted a claim of intentional interference with contract. Although invited to apply the standard for dismissal articulated in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted without addressing either Twombly or Iqbal in its written order. By contrast, the court of appeals expressly declined to apply the more recent U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence governing F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6), finding itself instead bound by the Colorado Supreme Court’s existing precedent, which had heavily relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s earlier opinion in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), and particularly its language to the effect that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove “no set of facts” in support of his claim. Declining, therefore, to be influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s more recent admonition to the federal courts that “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face,’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570), the court of appeals found the complaint sufficient to state a claim.

The supreme court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals. Because the court’s case law interpreting the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure in general, and C.R.C.P. 8 and 12(b)(5) in particular, reflected first and foremost a preference to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of the federal and state rules of civil procedure and a willingness to be guided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of corresponding federal rules whenever possible, rather than an intent to adhere to a particular federal interpretation prevalent at some fixed point in the past, the Colorado Supreme Court found that its precedent was interpreted too narrowly by the court of appeals. Because it also found that plaintiff’s complaint, when evaluated in light of the more recent and nuanced analysis of Twombly and Iqbal, failed to state a plausible claim for relief, the court found the complaint insufficient under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court Adopts Changes to Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, Colorado Appellate Rules

The Colorado Supreme Court adopted Rule Change 2016(04), 2016(05), and 2016(06) last week, approving changes to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and the Colorado Appellate Rules.

Rule Change 2016(04), adopted and effective April 6, 2016, enacts substantial changes to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. Many of the changes were to the Comments to the Rules, and language was added to many comments about lawyers contracting outside their own firms to provide legal assistance to the client. Additionally, a new model pro bono policy was added to the Comment to Rule 6.1. The changes are extensive; a redline and clean version is available here.

Rule Change 2016(05) amended Rules 35, 40, 41, 41.1, and 42 of the Colorado Appellate Rules, adopted and effective April 7, 2016. The changes to the affected rules were extensive, and the Comments to those rules generally explain the changes. Rule 41.1 was deleted and incorporated into Rule 41. A redline and clean version of the rule change is available here.

Rule Change 2016(06), adopted and effective April 7, 2016, amended the Preamble to the Rules Governing the Practice of Law, Chapters 18 to 20 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. The Preamble addresses the Colorado Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction and its ability to appoint directors of certain legal programs to assist the court. The Preamble also sets forth the court’s objectives in regulating the practice of law. A clean version of the newly adopted Preamble is available here.

For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.