Recent public health concerns caused Colorado’s trial courts to quickly change the way they had conducted business for more than a century prior. Public health policies and the courts’ concerns for public safety effectively put the brakes on in-person hearings. However, laws guaranteeing timely hearings did not pause, and the courts turned to virtual appearances and live streaming to continue operations during this time.
Today, public health concerns aside, the effectiveness and efficiency of having litigants appear for certain hearings virtually, as well as the value of allowing streaming of virtual proceedings in the interest of openness and transparency for the public cannot be denied. As such, the Colorado Supreme Court intends to codify how virtual proceedings will be used through uniform guidance offered by Chief Justice Directives (CJDs).
“It is a forgone conclusion that virtual proceedings are here to stay, and they provide a tremendous benefit in many respects,” Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian Boatright said. “Before the Court takes any action regarding this valuable public resource, we feel it is critically important to hear from all stakeholders who have now had nearly three years to adapt to this new environment and technology.”
Chief Justice Boatright added that any CJD issued by the Court defining how virtual participation and livestreaming may be used will ensure that judges retain discretion over the proceedings.
“We look forward to everyone’s thoughts on this aspect of a possible CJD, as well as everything else in consideration of this historic opportunity to modernize the way we do business and provide a new level of transparency to our courts,” Chief Justice Boatright said.
The draft CJDs are posted to the “Special Announcements” section of the Court’s homepage. The public comment period will close on March 15, 2023. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.