Judicial & Legislative News
DENVER – National Adoption Day is being celebrated in many of Colorado’s Judicial Districts throughout November, with judges and magistrates across Colorado finalizing the adoptions of 159 foster children into permanent families. Colorado is currently home to an additional 276 children waiting for permanent families.
“The celebration of National Adoption Day in Colorado is an ever-growing event and I am proud to see so many courts participating to bring children and families together to find their happily ever after,” said Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice.
Adoption Day events in Colorado are being coordinated through the courts, state and local human services departments, as well as other local and state child agencies and advocacy groups.
Following is a rundown of November’s Adoption Day activities in Colorado:
First Judicial District (Jefferson and Gilpin counties) – The First Judicial District will celebrate Adoption Day on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to noon in courtrooms 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D of the Jefferson County Courthouse (100 Jefferson Parkway, Golden, CO 80401). Judges Tamara Russell, Gail Meinster and Margie Enquist will join Magistrate Jamin Alabiso to preside over adoptions for 18 children into 16 families. Cameras are welcome. For more information, contact Mallory Albi, Jefferson County Department of Human Services, at 303-271-4389.
Second Judicial District (Denver County) – On Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse (520 W. Colfax, Denver, CO 80204), Denver Juvenile Court Judges Donna Schmalberger and Laurie Clark will join Denver District Court Judge Jay Grant and Magistrates Howard Bartlett, Melanie Gilbert and Lord Blegen to unite 47 children with 34 families. This is the thirteenth annual celebration of National Adoption Day in Denver. Expanded media coverage has been granted – cameras are welcome. For more information, contact Rob McCallum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eighth Judicial District (Jackson and Larimer counties) – Larimer County will celebrate Adoption Day on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, at the Larimer County Justice Center (201 La Porte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521). Eighteen children are expected to be adopted. There will be adoption proceedings throughout the day with Judges Blanco and Jouard presiding. After each adoption proceeding, the newly adopted children and their family and friends will head to the jury assembly room to enjoy entertainment, a balloon artist, a caricaturist and cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats in a decorated room filled with music. Each child will receive a special adoption bear, a treat bag filled with donated free children’s meals, gift certificates and treats from local businesses, as well as a book about adoption. For more information, please contact Donna Hochberg, Esq., Hochberg Law Office, PLLC at email@example.com or 970-493-1718.
Tenth Judicial District (Pueblo County) – The Tenth Judicial District will celebrate Adoption Day for the ninth year in a row on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 401 at the Pueblo County Courthouse (501 N. Elizabeth Street, Pueblo, CO 81003). District Court Judge Larry C. Schwartz will preside over the adoptions of eight children into six families. Following the adoptions, a cake and refreshment celebration will be held. Expanded media coverage has been granted. For more information, contact Amanda Ledbetter at 719-583-4716.
Twelfth Judicial District (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache counties) – The Twelfth Judicial District will host a reception on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, honoring all families who have adopted children and all children who have been adopted in the Twelfth Judicial District in the last year. Forty-five children were adopted into 35 families in the last year. Members of the public, the courts, Department of Human Services, county attorneys and county commissioners are expected to be in attendance. Chief Judge Pattie Swift will address the group to discuss the important role of adoptive families in the justice system and thank all DHS staff, attorneys, adoptive parents, and foster parents for the work that they do. For more information, contact Christina Gallegos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourteenth Judicial District (Grand, Moffat and Routt counties) – On Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, at 2 p.m. Chief Judge Mick O’Hara will preside over one adoption in Courtroom 2B at the Routt County Courthouse (1955 Shield Drive, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487). Photography will be permitted with consent of the family. For more information, contact Chief Judge O’Hara at 970-879-5020.
Sixteenth Judicial District (Bent, Crowley and Otero counties) – On Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, the Sixteenth Judicial District will host a celebration for all families who adopted children in the Sixteenth Judicial District in 2017. The celebration begins at 10 a.m. at the Otero Combined Court (13 West Third Street, Room 206, La Junta, CO 81050). Caseworkers, attorneys, and CASA volunteers will be present with the Honorable Mark MacDonnell to celebrate with the families. There will be a reception and a guest speaker for the families. The celebration is open to the public and guests are encouraged to use the south entrance to the courthouse. For more information contact Wendy Larsen at 719-383-7123.
DENVER – In a one-year pilot program designed to help readers more quickly identify its holdings in published opinions, the Colorado Court of Appeals will provide brief summaries of those opinions.
Beginning Nov. 16, 2017, each published opinion will be preceded by a summary which will briefly discuss issues in the case and the Court’s holdings on those issues, similar to the headnotes included with each opinion issued by the Colorado Supreme Court.
The Court will assess the success of the pilot program after one year and will decide whether to make it a permanent program of the Court.
“Transparency and enhancing public understanding of our work are important goals we’ve set for the Court of Appeals,” said Chief Judge Alan M. Loeb. “We are pleased to be able to begin offering opinion summaries to make what we do more easily understandable and accessible.”
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
DENVER – A group of more than 110 people representing many segments of Colorado’s legal community have reviewed and prioritized more than 60 recommendations to help improve the state’s capacity to ensure everybody has equal access to the courts.
The recommendations considered during an October meeting at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver will be incorporated into a strategic plan to be implemented in 2018.
The meeting was the culmination of a year-long effort to identify ways to fill gaps and improve coordination among access-to-justice service providers. Colorado was one of seven states to receive a $100,000 planning grant from the National Center for State Courts in its Justice for All project supported by the Public Welfare Foundation.
“Colorado was one of the first states to form an Access to Justice Commission, and I am gratified to see that hard work acknowledged and advanced by this grant,” said Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice, who kicked off the event with opening remarks in the Supreme Court courtroom. “Equal access to justice through the courts is an important goal in our system, and these recommendations will go a long way toward achieving that goal.”
Summit attendees considered more than 60 recommendations from several working groups, including:
The Justice for All summit brought together judges, court staff, legal aid and private lawyers, representatives of both Colorado law schools, the Colorado Bar Association and various social service organizations.
The work is part of an effort to implement a resolution approved by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators which envisions state justice systems in which everyone has access to effective assistance for their essential civil legal needs.
According to the state’s grant application, Colorado’s long-term goal is to develop a comprehensive system to respond to the needs of people with civil legal needs who cannot afford a lawyer by offering a range of services to provide them with meaningful and appropriate assistance. The Justice for All summit had two principal goals: to reach consensus on ways to expand and strengthen the continuum of services and to find ways to foster continued communication and coordination.
The Justice for All planning committee was co-chaired by Colorado Access to Justice Commission Chairman Fred Baumann, Colorado Bar Association President Dick Gast and Colorado Supreme Court Justice William W. Hood III.
DENVER – Marking the 11th anniversary of the Colorado Supreme Court Pro Bono Legal Service Commitment and Recognition Program, Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice has proclaimed Oct. 22-28, 2017, as Pro Bono Week.
Colorado is fortunate to have many attorneys who donate legal services to low-income residents, but they cannot meet the civil legal needs of the more than 500,000 people in Colorado who fall below the poverty level.
“Access to the courts to resolve civil disputes is a fundamental and essential right in our society,” Chief Justice Rice said. “The assistance of pro bono attorneys is an invaluable part of providing access to justice for all.”
The pro bono commitment program encourages every Colorado attorney to provide at least 50 hours of legal services at no charge, primarily to indigent people and/or organizations serving indigent people.
The Colorado Supreme Court in 2007 began recognizing those law firms, solo practitioners, in-house counsel and government attorneys making the commitment and achieving the 50-hour goal. For an organization to achieve the goal, each attorney within the organization must complete an average of 50 hours of pro bono service annually.
In calendar year 2016, hundreds of organizations committed to achieving the 50-hour goal.
A complete listing of the participating organizations is available at https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Pro_Bono.cfm.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Twelve participants will celebrate their graduation from the 4th Judicial District’s Recovery Court Adult Criminal Drug Court (ACDC) track on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. This rigorous program combines judicial oversight with individualized treatment and intensive supervision. The 4th Judicial District’s drug court was the second of its kind in Colorado and began in 2001.
“This graduation celebrates the successes of this group of very dedicated Drug Court participants who have reached a milestone not only in their recovery but also in their lives,” said 4th Judicial District Court Magistrate Daphne Burlingame, who will preside over the graduation ceremony.
In light of the felony drug law changes effective July 2013, the program revamped its admissions criteria and program requirements to meet the needs of the high risk/high need offenders it serves. This group of graduates is the first to complete the new program’s requirements of at least 2 years supervised probation, to include successfully completing their substance abuse treatment program, remaining substance free, maintaining employment and applying important life skills. By completing community based treatment, many of them have earned the right to have their felony conviction converted to a misdemeanor.
“To our graduates, I say always know there are people out there who care very much about your success and your future. What this means is that not only do you have the support of your friends, your family, and the Recovery Court Teams, but also you have the support of our entire community,” Magistrate Burlingame said. “Why do we as a community put so much effort into Problem Solving Courts? The answer, simply put, is that Problem Solving Courts work! We are saving lives, and improving communities -- all at a cost far less than what it would take to simply warehouse in jails and prisons those who commit non-violent acts as a result of alcohol and drug addictions.”
The National Institute of Justice’s Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) found that: Drug court participants reported less drug use (56 percent versus 76 percent) and were less likely to test positive for drug use (29 percent versus 46 percent) than the comparison probationers. Participants also had fewer rearrests than the comparison probationers. Additional MADCE research found that drug courts produce an estimated $1.50 in benefits for every dollar in costs. (National Criminal Justice Reference Service, https://www.ncjrs.gov/spotlight/drug_courts/summary.html)
Locally, the success of the ACDC participants has been overwhelming. A statewide search shows that out of 368 graduates of 4th Judicial District’s drug court since 2009, 79% have not received new criminal convictions. Through continued hard work by each of our participants and with the support of our entire community, we will continue to break the cycle of drugs and alcohol dependence. By doing so, we will strengthen families and improve our community.
Nearly 80 problem-solving courts are in operation around Colorado including adult and juvenile drug courts, family/dependency and neglect drug courts, DUI courts, adult and juvenile mental health courts, veteran trauma courts, and truancy courts.
DENVER – The Colorado Convening on Children, Youth and Families (CCCYF) Planning Committee is accepting proposals for plenary and breakout session presentations for the annual Convening on Children, Youth and Families scheduled for April 22-25, 2018 in Vail.
The conference is held annually with the goal of bringing together Best Practice Court Teams (BPCT), Family Treatment Drug Courts Teams (FTDC) and Juvenile Problem Solving Court Teams (JPSC) to promote collaborative, team-based approaches to dependency and neglect and delinquency cases in Colorado. Membership of these teams includes judicial officers, child welfare representatives, guardians ad litem, respondent parents’ counsel, county attorneys, family court facilitators, court-appointed special advocates (CASA), court clerks, education representatives, service providers, foster parents, faith-based organizations, and other stakeholders who are involved in the child welfare system.
At the 2018 Colorado Convening on Children, Youth and Families, BPCT, FTDC, and JPSC teams will participate in multi-disciplinary child welfare training, share best practices among teams, participate in statewide discussions of permanency, safety and well-being, learn more about continuous quality improvement, and work together as individual teams to update old goals and set new goals.
The Colorado Judicial Court Improvement Program, the Colorado Judicial Department Problem Solving Courts Unit, and the Colorado Department of Human Services welcome presentation proposals on any dependency and neglect, family treatment drug court, and juvenile drug court related topics. Priority will be given to the following topics:
Authors of submitted proposals may be invited to present at the 2018 Colorado Convening on Children, Youth and Families. Presenters will be asked to prepare a 75-minute presentation, which will be presented at two different sessions on one day of the three-day Convening. Please limit panelists and co-presenters to three per presentation.
Deadline for Proposals: By October 12, 2017, proposals must be submitted through the survey web link below with the following information: Name of presenter(s), primary contact phone number and email, proposed title of session, area of focus, target audience, session description including outlines of learning objectives and learning strategies, and amount of any required honorarium. Each proposal must include a CV or biography for each presenter.
Acceptance of Proposals: By October 20, 2017, a decision on all proposals will be made and selected presentations will be named.
Submission Guidelines: Proposals must be submitted through https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/62NGHTQ.
Questions may be sent via e-mail to ColoradoConveningonChildrenYouthandFamilies@judicial.state.co.us.
DENVER – Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice has appointed District Court Judge William Bain to serve as the Chief Judge of the 4th Judicial District (El Paso and Teller counties).
He replaces retiring Chief Judge Gilbert Martinez who was appointed to the District Court in 1989, served as Chief Judge from 1994 to 2007, and then again from 2012 to date. Judge Bain’s appointment is effective upon Judge Martinez’s retirement on Aug. 1, 2017.
“Chief Judge Martinez has dedicated the entirety of his nearly 40-year career to the law through public service and is to be commended for his vast contributions to the judiciary,” Chief Justice Rice said. “I wish him well in his retirement. He will be missed by many.”
Judge Bain is a fifth generation Colorado native, who was appointed to the District Court by Governor Bill Ritter in 2010.
“I am pleased to appoint Judge Bain to this important role,” Chief Justice Rice said. “I am confident he has the characteristics necessary to be a successful leader and I look forward to working with him.”
Judge Bain has resided in Colorado Springs since 1997. He received his undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and his J.D. from Cornell Law School in 1996. Judge Bain first worked in private practice with Welborn, Sullivan, Meck and Tooley in Denver. He then served as a deputy district attorney in the 4th Judicial District and as a civil litigator for the City of Colorado Springs before being appointed to the bench. He has served on the boards of Court Care, Safe Passage, the El Paso County Bar Foundation, and has been the president of the Ben S. Wendelken American Inn of Court.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado’s 4th Judicial District (El Paso and Teller counties) is offering its inaugural Family Law Day to assist self-represented litigants in family law matters.
A variety of professional services will be available at no cost during the event at the El Paso County Combined Courts (270 S. Tejon in Colorado Springs) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 5, 2017.
Among the services to be offered are informational sessions taught by attorneys on topics such as starting the divorce process; courtroom etiquette and how to present a case; drafting a parenting plan and separation agreement; and the basics of child support and spousal maintenance.
The event also will offer a Children and Families in Transition class to satisfy the mandatory parenting class requirement in all domestic relations cases involving children.
Volunteer attorneys and mental health professionals will be available to answer questions, and a magistrate will be available to handle uncontested domestic relations matters.
Spanish interpretation will be available for all services, and free, on-site child care will be available through the Court Care Program.
For more information, please contact Family Court Facilitator Nicolle Rugh at email@example.com or 719-452-5103.
COLORADO SPRINGS – The 4th Judicial District’s Veterans Trauma Court (VTC) has been selected by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Justice for Vets program as one of four courts in the United States to serve as a mentor court for new VTC programs across the country.
The VTC was selected for its overall excellence in providing treatment options and an alternative to incarceration for U.S. military veterans and active duty military personnel with trauma spectrum disorders and/or substance abuse issues who have proven to be high risk and high need.
Justice for Vets Major General (ret.) Clyde “Butch” Tate will meet with the VTC team on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at noon in courtroom W350 of the El Paso County Courthouse (270 S. Tejon, Colorado Springs, CO 80901) and present them with a plaque to commemorate the achievement. Media and public are invited to attend the celebration.
“We are humbled and honored to be recognized by Justice for Vets for what we have accomplished since this Court was launched in December 2009,” said District Court Judge David Shakes, who presides over the VTC docket. “We look forward to sharing our best practices and assisting courts across the country as they build these very important programs.”
Judge Shakes is a retired United States Army Judge Advocate and has been a district court judge for more than 10 years.
In addition to the 4th Judicial District’s VTC, the 13th Judicial District: Courts Assisting Military Offenders in Billings, MT; the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo, NY; and the 4th Judicial Circuit Duvall County Veterans Treatment Court in Jacksonville, FL, were also selected as mentor courts.
“These Veteran Treatment Courts are a shining example of how the courts, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the community can come together to honor our veterans by ensuring they receive the services and treatment they need to recover,” Justice for Vets Director Scott Swaim said. “As mentor courts, these programs are helping to transform the U.S. justice system by providing support to service men and women who would otherwise be incarcerated.”
Since its inception, the 4th Judicial District VTC has enrolled 354 participants and graduated 223 from the program. There are currently 78 vets enrolled and actively participating in the Court. The VTC is state and locally grant funded.
The 4th Judicial District VTC is a collaborative effort among local, state and federal partners. The core of the team includes the 4th Judicial District and associated justice-related agencies, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Family Care Center, Operation TBI Freedom (Craig Hospital), Rocky Mountain Human Services, Peak Research LLC, UCCS Trauma Health and Hazards Clinic, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Program and the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.
For more information on the 4th Judicial District VTC click here.
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