Update on Wyoming and Colorado State and Federal Court Procedures during physical distancing

Posted by Clyde Hutchins | Apr 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

Although many businesses and industries have closed or slowed production in light of the physical distancing rules, courts throughout Colorado and Wyoming are still open and operating. Here at Harmony Law, we are still committed to helping our clients navigate their legal issues. We are also keeping a close eye on the ever changing rules of procedure throughout many Colorado and Wyoming Federal and State courts. Here is a guide to the current rules of procedure throughout various courts in Colorado and Wyoming:

LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO: The Loveland County Courthouse is closed, but the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins remains open. The Clerk of Court's office will only accept paper filings if they are related to “essential proceedings”, but all other filings can still be submitted via fax, email, or Colorado's e-filing system. All hearings, trials, and other court appearances that are not considered “essential proceedings” scheduled from March 20 - May 15 have been vacated and continued. This means that court appearances during this time period will not happen as planned, but they will be rescheduled at a later date. Judges and judicial officers may continue to hold court hearings as they deem appropriate, but these hearings will most likely be conducted remotely. For more information, and for Larimer County's definition of “essential proceedings”, see Administrative Order 2020-2, issued by Chief Justice Howard on March 19, 2020.

WELD COUNTY, COLORADO: The Weld County Courthouse is closed to the public until May 1, 2020. The Centennial Center is only open for hearings related to “public safety matters”. However, the Clerk of Court's office remains open. Similar to the Larimer County Clerk of Court, the Weld County Clerk is only accepting paper filings if they are related to “public safety matters”, but is still accepting all other filings via Colorado's e-filing system. The Chief Justice's administrative order notes that all other filings may not be processed until after May 1, 2020. All court appearances not related to “public safety matters” from March 18 – May 1 have been vacated and continued. These appearances will be rescheduled for a later date. For more information, and for Weld County's definition of “public safety matters”, see Revised Administrative Order 2020-6 issued by Chief Justice Hartmann on March 25, 2020.

DISTRICT COURT, DISTRICT OF COLORADO: The Colorado District Court is only open to persons with “official court business” until May 1, 2020. The Clerk of Court's office is closed to the public, but court filings may be submitted via Colorado's e-filing system, U.S. mail, drop box, or email* (*for unrepresented parties). All civil and criminal trials, grand jury proceedings, naturalization ceremonies, and public and bar-related functions scheduled to take place in any District of Colorado courthouse facility from March 27 – May 1 have been continued. These appearances and events will be rescheduled for a later date. 

In Bankruptcy Court, all non-evidentiary hearings will be conducted via telephone. All in-person 341 meetings scheduled through April 10, 2020 are continued until a later date, although some 341 meetings are being held via telephone. For more information, see District Court General Order 2020-3, issued by Chief Justice Brimmer on March 27, 2020, or visit the Colorado Bankruptcy Court’s website. at 

LARAMIE COUNTY, WYOMING: Laramie County has adopted Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Davis's March 18, 2020 Order Adopting Temporary Plan to Address Health Risks Posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Order suspended all in-person proceedings from March 18 – April 10 (this date was later extended to May 31) except various “emergency” proceedings. However, judges are encouraged to hold proceedings through telephonic or video means, so many hearings and civil trials may continue as scheduled via phone or video. The Clerk of Court's office is accepting court filings via electronic mail and USPS.
The Wyoming Supreme Court has also adopted new procedures related remote administration of oaths and witnesses for documents such as self-proving wills and affidavits. Witnesses may witness a testator's will signing by audio-video means. Depositions may also be conducted remotely. For more information, see the following Orders:

DISTRICT COURT, DISTRICT OF WYOMING: The U.S. District Court in the District of Wyoming has vacated all civil trials scheduled prior to June 1, 2020. All in-person hearings scheduled for March 20 – May 31 are to be held by teleconference or videoconference. The District Court has also authorized the use of teleconference technology to provide the public and media access to public hearings and court proceedings. In Bankruptcy Court, 341 meetings will be held as scheduled, but will be held via Skype. For more information, see Chief Justice Skavdahl's Order Vacating all Civil Trials and in Court Appearances, issued on March 20, 2020.

About the Author

Clyde Hutchins

Clyde Hutchins is the founder of Harmony Law. Mr. Hutchins started his legal career in Cheyenne, Wyoming as a law clerk for the district court judges. Mr. Hutchins then entered private practice with a Wyoming based litigation and business law firm. Later, Mr. Hutchins went to Alaska, where he was the chief litigator for a firm that engaged in bond law, corporate law, securities law, and municipal law. The State of Wyoming hired Mr. Hutchins from Alaska to represent the State of Wyoming in the national tobacco arbitration and act as its tobacco settlement attorney. While in that position, as a hobby, he developed an enforcement unit for consumer protection for Wyoming residents. Mr. Hutchins moved to Colorado in 2016 and founded Harmony Law, LLC. Harmony Law is primarily engaged in civil litigation. It is also a general practice firm in the areas of business law, estate planning, consumer law and family law. Harmony Law is active in all state and federal courts throughout Wyoming and Colorado.


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