COVID-19 and the Courts


COVID-19The world completely changed a few weeks ago.

Colorado has implemented a stay-at-home Order and most non-essential businesses and schools are closed through at least April 30th.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has determined that the virus is widespread in Colorado and a state of emergency has been declared.

Many clients have questions about the status of their case and how and when it will proceed in light of the global pandemic.

Right now, all state courts have vacated all civil trials and most in-person hearings through April 30th. Most courts are working at a reduced staffing level through April 30th. Some courts, including Boulder, have continued all telephonic hearings until April 20th and in-person proceedings until May 31st. Otherwise, there is no uniformity regarding protocols and procedures among the 22-judicial districts in the state. Indeed, there is no uniformity within the court divisions of each judicial district. Generally, it is difficult to obtain even a short telephonic hearing until 3-4-weeks because of the reduced staffing levels. Most deadlines in civil cases have been extended by Order of the court or agreement of the parties. Judges, of course, have been extremely lenient with extending deadlines due to the pandemic.

Law firms have been deemed an “essential business” by Order of the Governor. My office is open at reduced staffing. However, I am not meeting clients in-person. I have been conducting all client meetings by telephone and Zoom teleconference. Essential depositions have been taken by video conference with everyone attending from their respective locations. It is difficult to have a subpoena served because most businesses are closed. I generally will not serve a subpoena or schedule a deposition in the next 45-days unless it is essential. In addition, I generally will not file any motion to compel discovery during this time as the courts will not grant it under the circumstances. There have been scathing orders from courts around the country admonishing lawyers that file “emergency motions” in the middle of this global pandemic.

While the courts are at reduced staffing and cases will be delayed for the next 30-60-days or more, there has not been any Order extending the statute of limitations or other time requirements for instituting legal actions. As filings in federal and state court are electronic, any deadline for filing such actions has not been extended.

While we are in a time of uncertainty, the judicial system is functioning and adjusting to the new reality. And, if you are in need of some relief from the all the news of the pandemic, visit the Barefoot Contessa’s Instagram page. She has a true passion for what she does.