The Colorado Supreme Court will end the CAPP rules for new cases effective June 30, 2015 and establish new civil procedure rules effective July 1, 2015. The Colorado Supreme Court is on the march to set new rules of civil procedure which are intended to give the Colorado District Courts an early and powerful role in controlling discovery, disclosure, motions and extensions of time in an effort to streamline pretrial and trial and to control litigants costs. While the Colorado Supreme Court does direct; the Colorado District Courts may not be in lock-step with the Supreme Court. The Colorado District Courts, notwithstanding the purported uniformity of the Rules of Civil Procedure, are not uniform either in their application of the Rules or in their understanding of the Rules. The variety of questions concerning the new rules will undeniably place before the District Court Judges questions difficult to resolve especially as to “proportionality”.

When the Colorado Supreme Court makes a major change in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure it, of necessity, leaves huge blank spaces in the proper understanding of the Rules by among other things, rendering obsolete vast amounts of Court interpretation of the Rules in cases decided by the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court. The result is that District Court Judges are and will be without clear guidance in interpreting the new Rules for some period of years. The absence of applicable case law will, at least in the near term, give thoughtful Colorado trial lawyers enormous room to urge wide ranging interpretation of the proper construction of the new Rules.

Lawyers active in Colorado District Court practice know very well that the District Court Judges frequently fail to follow or understand recent changes in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Personal experience in the Colorado District Court has given me to see District Court Judges following old, superseded Rules of Civil Procedure, leaving trial counsel and clients dazed and vexed by the clear error but largely unable to find an acceptable solution to the dilemma short of appeal because, by Rule, motions for reconsideration are basically barred.

The public hearing on the proposed new Colorado Rules was April 30, 2015. The Colorado Supreme Court has also had a period, now closed, for written comments. The Supreme Court will soon issue its final rules which are not likely to be very different from those recently published.

The Civil Access Pilot Project will remain active for business cases (and some others filed in the metro Denver area) through June 30, 2015. Once filed as a CAPP case the case will remain a CAPP case notwithstanding that the pilot project has ended for new cases. This CAPP slow death will probably cause some discomfort to the clients, judges and lawyers subject to its death throes. The many CAPP problems of pleadings giving rise to variable disclosure dates, virtual absence of extensions of time, determination of what cases are within the scope of CAPP will live on for a short time after July 1, 2015 in the Denver metro counties.

The new Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure will eliminate some of the worst features of CAPP such as the uncertain scope of CAPP, the step-like pleading requirements, the fact based complaints, unlike the more time honored “issue” based pleading. But like CAPP, proportionality of discovery will remain paramount; early court intervention in case management will remain central; and deposition times will be reduced. All of these changes are dependent on the District Court Judges interpretation and enforcement. The new chapters in Colorado Civil Procedure in the District Court are waiting to be written by the Colorado appellate courts.

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