July 21, 2018

State Judicial Revises Fee Payment Request Form, Guide to Determining Indigency, and Forms to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration

The Colorado State Judicial Branch issued updates to six of their Judicial Department Forms (JDF). These updates include changes to the Guide to Determining Indigency, the Request and Authorization for Payment of Fees, a Notice to Subpoena Recipients, and forms to discontinue sex offender registration for non-Colorado convictions.

MISCELLANEOUS

  • JDF 80.1  – Notice to Subpoena Recipients (04/13)
  • JDF 207 – Colorado Judicial Department Request and Authorization for Payment of Fees (04/13)
  • Guide – Guide for Determining Indigency (CJD 98-01) (R04/13)

CRIMINAL LAW

  • JDF 473 – Petition to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration – Non-Colorado Conviction or Juvenile Adjudication or Disposition (R03/13)
  • JDF 474 – Notice of Hearing on Petition – Non-Colorado Conviction or Juvenile Adjudication or Disposition (R03/13)
  • JDF 475 – Order to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration – Non-Colorado Conviction or Juvenile Adjudication or Disposition (R03/13)

All of State Judicial’s JDF forms are available on their website. Click here for the Forms page.

Colorado Supreme Court Authorizes Transfer of Surplus Attorney Registration Funds to Colorado Legal Services

On Friday, May 11, 2012, the Colorado Supreme Court announced that it has voted unanimously to transfer $750,000 in 2012, and another $750,000 in 2013, from the Court’s attorney registration fund to Colorado Legal Services.

Colorado Legal Services will use the funds to further its mission of providing pro bono legal services in civil matters to Colorado’s indigent population.

“Our profession has an obligation to serve all of Colorado, including those who cannot afford to pay a lawyer for representation in civil matters,” Chief Justice Michael L. Bender said.

Chief Justice Bender also noted that none of the monies being transferred come from taxpayer dollars or will have any future impact on taxpayers.

“The funds being made available to Colorado Legal Services come solely from fees paid to the Court’s Office of Attorney Registration,” he said.  “I believe all Colorado attorneys should see this as a wise use of resources to ensure procedural fairness prevails for all who come to the courts seeking assistance.”

The Supreme Court took the transfer request under advisement earlier this year when approached by the Colorado Bar Association and the Colorado Access to Justice Commission.  The Court found the attorney registration fund had a surplus and concluded that using some of the money for this purpose would have no negative impact on the Office of Attorney Registration or Office of Attorney Regulation.

Colorado Legal Services is a flagship provider of civil legal services and in the past few saw a significant downturn in its funding sources.  Without the Court’s authorization to transfer the monies, Colorado Legal Services would have been forced to close some of its offices and lay off numerous staff members.

Application Process Open for Family Violence Justice Fund Grants from Colorado Judicial Branch

The Colorado Judicial Branch announced today it has opened the application process for Fiscal Year 2013 grants from the Family Violence Justice Fund, which funds programs that provide civil legal services to indigent Coloradans.

Application forms will be available Monday, April 16, 2012 at http://www.courts.state.co.us/Administration/Unit.cfm/Unit/fvjf and will be accepted only via email.

The program was established by the General Assembly in 1999 to help indigent victims of family violence obtain legal services at no cost to them.

Grants will be awarded based on a formula that considers factors including past participation in the program. For Fiscal Year 2013, $625,000 is available for grants.

Applications must be received by the State Court Administrator’s Office by Friday, May 25, 2012, to be considered for a grant. To be eligible, organizations must be non-profit and currently serving the legal needs of indigent victims of family violence.

Successful organizations must be prepared to provide full legal services, including but not limited to assistance with divorce, child custody, child support, and other related civil matters. Additional information regarding the fund and qualifications for organizations receiving grants may be found in section 14-4-107 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Applications will be accepted via email only at jessica.zender@judicial.state.co.us. Questions may be directed to Jessica Zender at the email address above or by calling (303) 861-1111.

Colorado’s Justice Crisis

It’s a perfect storm.  Although overused, that metaphor so accurately captures what is happening with respect to Colorado’s legal aid delivery system that it is difficult to avoid.  Just as in a perfect storm, a rare combination of circumstances has resulted in a crisis of unprecedented magnitude.

Colorado Legal Services (CLS) is the only program in the state that provides free legal assistance (advice, brief service, and full representation) in civil matters to low-income individuals and families in every Colorado county.  With 14 offices around the state, it operates like a legal emergency room, serving low income Coloradans at greatest risk and in greatest need.  In 2010 alone, CLS provided assistance to over 11,000 indigent clients facing serious legal problems that directly implicated their health, safety, stability and sufficiency.  With few exceptions, CLS clients live at or below 125% of the federal poverty guideline (which translates to an annual income of $13,613 for an individual and $27,938 for a family of four).  They include senior citizens, victims of domestic violence, veterans, persons with mental and physical disabilities, and other particularly vulnerable Coloradans.

Even before the recession, the need for legal aid among the poor outstripped available resources.  A study in 2005 found that for every client served by CLS, at least one person seeking help was turned away because of insufficient resources.  The Great Recession and its aftermath have made the situation dramatically worse, as more and more low-income Coloradans experience the significant legal problems that accompany acute economic distress and prolonged unemployment.  With the deterioration of the labor and housing markets, rising fuel and food costs, and depleted savings, more Coloradans are facing eviction, foreclosure, delinquent child support, hunger, financial distress, bankruptcy, and domestic violence.  In addition, prolonged un- or under-employment means that the number of people eligible for legal aid continues to rise.  The most recent Census Bureau survey found that there are now over 750,000 Coloradans who are income-eligible for services.

Amidst this rising tide of need, CLS is experiencing devastating funding losses that threaten to compromise its ability to meet even the most serious legal needs of the poor.  Federal funding, with strong bipartisan support, has long been a financial foundation for legal aid.  Yet, notwithstanding the increased need for legal services and the value of those services in stabilizing families in crisis, just before Thanksgiving, Congress approved a budget bill for 2012 that includes a 14.85% cut in funding for legal aid programs such as CLS.  This translates into a loss for Colorado of over $605,000.

This latest reduction in federal funding comes on top of other funding losses suffered over the last two years totaling nearly $1 million.  Most notable among these is the drop in funding from COLTAF, the Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation.  The extended period of very low interest rates that we are experiencing (now expected to continue until at least mid-2013) has decimated COLTAF’s revenue, which is comprised solely of the interest earned on lawyers’ trust accounts, and although COLTAF has a reserve, built in better times for just such times as these, it is rapidly being depleted.  Even with the reserve, COLTAF funding for CLS has dropped by $630,000 over the course of the last two years, and COLTAF is projecting another cut to CLS of at least $520,000 in 2012.

Also important is a loss of $165,000 in state funding for legal services for victims of domestic violence.  Whether the state will be in a position to restore that funding for fiscal year 2013 remains to be seen, but an actual increase in the state appropriation, and certainly one anywhere near the magnitude necessary to cover for other losses, is not in the cards, given the state’s current budget constraints.  All told, by the end of 2012, CLS will likely be down over $2 million, or more than 20% of its funding just two years ago.

All of these funding losses mean that CLS, already woefully understaffed, will shrink further, which will necessarily reduce the legal assistance available to low-income Coloradans, regardless of their legal need.  Already, where there were six CLS lawyers doing family law cases in the Denver metro area, which has an indigent population of nearly 300,000, now there will be only five;  where there were four lawyers handling evictions and other housing issues, three will have to suffice; and where there were three doing foreclosure defense, now there will be two.  Other parts of the state are faring no better.  In Grand Junction, with an indigent population in Mesa County of about 17,000, there are now only two CLS lawyers, where formerly there were three.  The CLS offices in Colorado Springs and Alamosa have each lost a paralegal, and the Durango office has lost the sole member of its support staff, leaving just three lawyers and a paralegal to serve the entire southwest corner of the state, including the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservations.  This serious understaffing is only going to get worse.

Bar-sponsored pro bono programs alone cannot be expected to pick up this much slack, particularly since they too are suffering from cuts in their COLTAF funding.  Nor can the court system, also suffering from inadequate funding, be expected to seamlessly absorb ever larger numbers of pro se litigants, especially if timely legal assistance would have eliminated the need for them to be there in the first place.  It is true that to maximize access for those in greatest need, a well-functioning civil legal aid delivery system must have well-managed pro bono programs; it must have a legal community committed to providing pro bono services to the poor; it must have self-help resources that make courts and administrative agencies accessible for those who are proceeding pro se; and it must maximize its use of technology to improve access in rural areas and otherwise.  But the backbone of any well-functioning system must be an adequately-funded, staffed legal aid program, with lawyers and paralegals, who are expert in dealing with the problems unique to low-income populations, and who are available on demand when low-income families are in crisis and time is of the essence.

The legal profession has a singular responsibility to respond to this crisis in our civil justice system.  CLS is the place of last resort for low-income families, the disabled, veterans and military families, and seniors who are facing serious civil legal problems.  If turned away, these Coloradans are effectively denied the rights, remedies, and protections afforded by the law, sometimes with devastating consequences – lethal injuries at the hands of an abusive spouse, a home lost to an unscrupulous lender, life on the street because of a wrongful denial of disability benefits.  As lawyers, we understand that the rule of law is in jeopardy when the protections of the law are not available to increasingly large numbers of our most vulnerable citizens.

The leadership of lawyers – whether in private practice or in-house corporate counsel, large firm or solo practice, government or nonprofit – is more important than ever in fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.  The effect of CLS’ funding losses is calculable in terms of dollars lost, staff positions eliminated, and additional applicants for service turned away.  But the actual impact on the lives of low-income Coloradans, the damage to our communities, the tarnishing of our nation’s fundamental promise of equal justice, and the risk to our civil justice system and the rule of law is immeasurable.

Here are some things you can do to help:

  1. Give generously to the Legal Aid Foundation (http://www.legalaidfoundation.org/).
  2. Take a pro bono case from Metro Volunteer Lawyers (http://www.metrovolunteerlawyers.org/).
  3. Speak to your elected representatives (federal and state) about the importance of public funding for civil justice.
  4. Speak with your banker to ensure that the interest rate on your COLTAF account is as generous as possible.
Diana Poole is the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Foundation, which raises money for Colorado Legal Services, and COLTAF, which administers Colorado’s IOLTA program. She is also a member of the Colorado Access to Justice Commission.

State Board of Health Amends Rules Regarding Medical Marijuana Indigency Qualification and Doctors’ Good Standing

The Colorado State Board of Health has proposed amendments to the Medical Use of Marijuana rules. The amendments:

  • Modify the indigence standard to conform with HB 11-1043, to clarify how an indigent person can prove qualification; and
  • Clarify the definition of “in good standing” in accord with HB 11-1043, to better delineate the standard for when a doctor can prescribe medical marijuana to a patient.

A hearing on the amended rules will be held on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at the Department of Public Health and Environment, Building A, Sabin-Cleere Conference Room, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246, beginning at 10:00 am.

Full text of the proposed rule changes including line edits can be found here. Further information about the rules and hearing can be found here.

State Judicial Issues Revised Certification of Indigency Form

The Colorado State Judicial Branch has issued a revised form for a legal service provider to certify that their client is indigent. Once certified as indigent, the client is eligible to have most court-related fees waived. Practitioners should begin using the new form immediately.

All forms are available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word formats. Many are also available as Word templates; download the new forms from State Judicial’s individual forms pages, or below.

Filing Fees

  • JDF 203 – “Certification of Determination of Indigency” (revised 8/11)

Colorado Supreme Court Amends Three Directives Regarding Court Fees

The Colorado Supreme Court has amended three Chief Justice Directives, which were adopted and effective as of August 2011. The changes all concern court fees:

  • CJD 08-02 – “Concerning Assessment of Cost Recovery Fees for Maintaining the Technical Infrastructure Necessary to Support Electronic Access to Court Records”
    • Attachment A of the CJD outlines the fees for online access to court records and e-filing.
  • CJD 98-01 – “Costs for Indigent Persons in Civil Matters”
    • The CJD outlines indigency determinations, the waiving of fees, installment payment procedures, and dispute resolution fees.
  • CJD 85-31 – “Concerning the Assessment and Collection of Statutory Fines, Fees, Surcharges, and Costs in Criminal, Juvenile, Traffic and Misdemeanor Cases”
    • The CJD outlines the assessment of these fees, their standard application, and waiver procedures.

Department of Health Care Policy and Financing Amends Rule Concerning the Colorado Indigent Care Program

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has amended the the medical assistance rule concerning the Colorado Indigent Care Program. These proposed amendments will align the definition of health care providers qualified to participate in the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP) with state law.

Legislation passed in the 2011 session, House Bills 11-1101 and 11-1323, and signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper changed the definition of “general provider” to include Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers. This rule change adds those two provider types to the list of qualified CICP providers.

A hearing on the amended rule will be held on Friday, August 12, 2011 at The Capitol Center, 225 E. 16th Ave., 6th Floor, Denver, Colorado 80203, beginning at 9:00 am.

Full text of the proposed changes with red line edits to the rule can be found here. Further information about the rule and hearing can be found here.

Indigency Determination and Income Eligibility Guidelines Amended by Colorado Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court has amended four Chief Justice Directives, which were adopted and effective as of March 2010. The changes were made to Attachments A and/or B of the following directives:

CJD 04-06 – “Court Appointments Through the Office of the Child’s Representative”

CJD 04-05 – “Appointment and Payment Procedures for Court Appointed Counsel, Guardians ad Litem, Child and Family Investigators, and Court Visitors”

CJD 04-04 – “Appointment of State-Funded Counsel in Criminal and Juvenile Delinquency Cases and for Contempt of Court”

CJD 98-01 – “Costs for Indigent Persons in Civil Matters”

Attachment A concerns “Procedures for the Determination of Eligibility for Court Appointed Counsel and Guardians ad Litem Representation on the Basis of Indigency.”

Attachment B concerns “Income Eligibility Guidelines.”

Online Directory Lists Colorado Housing Services for Special-Needs Residents

Disability.gov offers an online directory of housing services that are available to Colorado residents with special needs, such as elderly or low-income families, as well as people with disabilities.

Access the directory of resources here.

Colorado Office of Dispute Resolution Revises Indigent Services Allocation Policy

Beginning July 1, the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) will fund mediation and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services for Colorado’s indigent population based on a proportionate allocation formula, State Judicial announced today.

Low- and no-cost mediation services will be granted to each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts in proportion to each district’s percentage of residents meeting the federal poverty threshold. According to a press release issued today by State Judicial, recent Census data revealed that more than a half-million Coloradans live at the federal poverty level. The federal poverty level for one person in 2010 is $10,830 per year, or $902.50 per month.

Deputy State Court Administrator Carol Haller said of the change:

We want to provide access to services across the state in an equitable manner. Because our indigent funds are limited, tying each judicial district’s ODR allocation to its indigent population is the most sensible approach to take.

ODR also offers mediation and other ADR services at affordable rates (but not state funded) to Colorado residents who are not in financial need.

(image source: State Judicial)