July 23, 2019

HB 17-1132: Establishing Statutory Procedure for Judicial Disqualification

On January 30, 2017, Rep. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Bob Gardner introduced HB 17-1132, “Concerning Judicial Disqualification in Civil Actions.”

Currently, under the Colorado rules of civil procedure, a party may file a motion and affidavit to disqualify a judge for specified reasons. The bill establishes the process in statute and specifies the reasons why a judge may be disqualified. The bill adds to the process requirements that:

  • The motion must be filed within certain time frames; and
  • If the judge who is the subject of the motion does not immediately grant the motion, the issue is referred to the chief judge of the court or, if the judge is a chief judge, a chief judge of an adjoining jurisdiction.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled for hearing in committee on February 21, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.

Colorado Supreme Court: Instruction to Jury that It Could Discuss Case Prior to Deliberations was Harmless Error

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Flockhart on Monday, July 1, 2013.

Pre-Deliberation Jury Instruction—Challenges for Cause—Judicial Disqualification.

The Supreme Court held that the trial court erred by giving a pre-deliberation instruction in defendant’s criminal trial, because to do so was not authorized by rule or existing law. The Court found, however, that the erroneous instruction constituted non-constitutional trial error and was harmless. Accordingly, the Court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remanded the case to the trial court to reinstate defendant’s convictions. The Court further held that a trial court retains discretion to conduct challenges for cause in open court, and that the trial court did not err by denying defendant’s motion to disqualify the trial judge.

Summary and full case available here.