Appealing the District Court Judge During your Case

Occasionally during a trial, the presiding Judge may make an error in his/her ruling.  In fact, if you poll most trial attorneys they could probably list off the top of their head several errors that THEY believed the presiding Judge committed during their respective cases.  This is not meant in any way to deride the quality of Colorado judges who are for the most part excellent.  Rather, the purpose for this article is to point out the

Importantly, sometimes the trial court may make an error so egregious that it has an immediate and irreversible effect of the entire outcome of the case.  In such a case, the party has the option to file an emergency petition with the Colorado Supreme Court for relief.   

The Applicable Appellate Rule

Petitions for emergency relief from the Supreme Court are commonly referred to as a “Petition for Rule to Show Cause.”  The applicable rule governing such emergency petitions for relief to the highest court in Colorado is Colorado Appellate Rule 21.  Regarding the filing of this petition, the Rule states that:

(b) How Sought; Proposed Respondents. Petitioner shall file a petition for a rule to show cause specifying the relief sought and shall request the court to issue to one or more proposed respondents a rule to show cause why the relief requested should not be granted. The proposed respondent should be the real party in interest.

What this rule means is that the party who seeks relief from the Supreme Court must file a Petition with the Supreme Court asking the Court to issue a “Rule to Show Cause” to the Respondents and/or the lower Court as to why the relief the party requests should not be granted.  The Petitioner must pay a $225 docket fee to file this petition and must serve an original and ten copies on the Supreme Court. 

Does filing the Petition Stop the Lower Court Case?

As noted above, Petitions for Rule to Show Cause are filed during the pendency of a lower Court case.  Notably, the filing of a petition to the Colorado Supreme Court does NOT automatically stay the proceedings below.  The petitioner can under the rule petition to the lower court to stay proceedings while the Supreme Court makes their determination.

Denial of Rule to Show Cause

Importantly, the Supreme Court may deny a Petition under C.A.R. 21 without giving an explanation for the reasons for its denial. 

Responding to a Rule to Show Cause

Because the issues presented to The Supreme Court are often extremely important, the Court will ask the parties and/or the lower Court to respond and present arguments on the issues presented in the Petition.  However, it is important to note that a Response is NOT automatic.  The Supreme Court must ask for a Response before one will be accepted.  There is generally no oral argument permitted unless called for by The Supreme Court.

Sources:

C.A.R. 21

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Anthony Gary Bell, Jr.

Licensed since 1975

Member at firm Bell & Pollock, P.C.

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