COVID-19 and Boulder County Courts
Boulder Court Covid-19 Q&A
By Janette Jordan
As a follow up to our previous posting on March 24, 2020, the Boulder County District Court, through the Boulder County Bar Association, hosted an online presentation to answer practitioner’s questions.
Currently as of April 10, 2020, the Courts are rescheduling any and all non-emergency domestic relation matters for dates after May 31, 2020.
What if I need to mail something?
Due to the need to protect their staff and the public, anything that is being mailed to the Court, either from mediators, CFIs, PREs, or pro se parties are being received on an extremely delayed basis. It is currently taking approximately two weeks for a filing that has been received by the Court to be show in the Court’s record system.
What if I have a hearing set for May that has not yet been vacated?
The unfortunate, but very real answer is that we just don’t know. The Courts have vacated all hearings through the end of April and plan to determine on a weekly basis if they need to vacate more upcoming hearings for May.
How can I flag that something is urgent?
Please notate it in your pleading or in your notes to the Court via e-filing (which is something only available to attorneys). If there is a deadline coming up, such as for your QDRO, notate that in your pleading so the judicial officers can be made aware.
When will my case be rescheduled?
Again, it is unknown at this point in time. The Court is anticipating approximately 500 cases will need to be rescheduled, in addition to any new matters that are now ripe for case settings. The judicial officers must first accommodate certain criminal cases (even if outside their division) for constitutional reasons and then will triage the importance of rescheduling and setting cases beyond that point. The anticipation is that if the Courts are closed through the end of May, then cases will not be set until well into June or possibly later.
Are Orders still being issued?
Yes, filings like Stipulations and Memorandums of Understanding that are being filed by your attorney are getting through directly to the Judges and Magistrates. They are issues responses back as soon as they are able to. Parties are encouraged to continue to work on settlement agreements during this time.
What will Orders look like when we resume?
The Court anticipates that due to the high volume and need for hearings, that the Court will no longer be able to provide detailed and thorough written orders for every case. Attorneys are being advised that they will likely be required to request the transcript for the proceedings as the written order for rulings from the bench.
Who do I contact for rescheduling my case when normal court operations resume?
You and everyone else are asking the same thing. The way that we can best serve and assist our Boulder Courts and judicial officers is by not bombarding them all at once. Each division’s clerk will reach out to you when they are able to and with dates.
What about parenting time issues with COVID-19? Any guidance?
Ultimately, the Court will hear these issues on a case by case basis. However, there was some unanimous counsel shared with practitioners regarding non-compliance with parenting time due to the stay at home mandate. The judicial officers agree that the Governor’s Order does NOT allow parents to violate or withhold parenting time. Further, that if one parent is at a higher than average risk (as compared to the public or co-parent), that does NOT form the basis for a motion to restrict parenting time under the endangerment standard. You must be prepared to show how the minor child’s imminent safety and well-being is being impacted, not the other parent's.
What about my case deadlines?
Forward-looking deadlines, such as your 16.2 mandatory disclosures still remain in place, but the Court will consider motions to enlarge the deadlines and encourages conferral amongst parties and attorneys.
Backward-looking deadlines, such as those that would have applied to hearings that have since been vacated, are also vacated and will be reset when normal operations resume. A request for an extension is not needed.
Are discovery deadlines and witness disclosure deadlines that have passed for hearings that have been vacated to be re-opened as a backward-looking deadline?
Can I still file my motion or initiate a case pleading?
Yes, you are still able to file your motion or initiate a new case. However, please understand that the judicial officers will be doing constant triaging for existing and new cases when normal operations resume.
Will cases that are currently scheduled for permanent orders hearing in June, July, August and beyond be continued by the Court?
The Court does not anticipate this as it will likely cause more disruption, but with Boulder Courts operating under the trailing docket, there is a possibility that you case could get continued as a result of a lack of judicial officers available for a particular week of scheduled hearings.
Can I attend a non-contested hearing over the phone?
No, as this is not currently authorized under Justice Coates’ directive order.
Will cases which involve children have priority over financial matters when court reopens?
Those will be handled on a case by case basis.
How do I attend my required parenting class?
The traditional Court-approved providers will not be conducting those in person. The Court has approved two online providers that you or your attorney will need to file the certificate of completion with the Court directly.
What if I don’t want to appear by phone or video? Can the Court make my hearing over video a requirement?
Yes, but the Court will likely try to continue your matter until such time as an in-person hearing can be held. The Court’s primary concern is the public’s health and well-being during this emergency.
Is there anyone available to fulfill requests for certified copies?
Please note that these questions and answers do not constitute legal advice. You should always contact your attorney directly if you have questions that specifically pertain to your case.