The Colorado Court System is a definition of the structure of the judicial network of the state. The Governor and the General assembly create courts that are included in this network and the law that they are expected to enforce, the courts play the all essential role of resolving disputes between individuals and the state.
Conflicts resolved by local tribunals
The courts of Colorado have the jurisdiction to rule in criminal as well as civil cases. The former are matters in which the power of the state is brought in to make an offender pay for his criminal misdeeds. On the other hand, civil cases involve two disputing, private parties and the outcome of such cases usually involves monetary rulings.
The tribunals in Colorado have two types of jurisdictions: original and appellate. A tribunal with original jurisdiction can rule in matters that have not yet been brought before the bench. In other words, these courts hear both criminal and civil cases that have been brought into legal light for the first time.
In contrast, a court with appellate jurisdiction has the authority to decide on matters that have already been ruled on by a lower court. A trial court is usually a tribunal with original jurisdiction. However, if the defendant would like to have the judgment of this court reviewed, he can approach a tribunal at a higher level in the judicial hierarchy.
A court will usually have jurisdiction within the geographical bounds of the tribunal; for instance, a county court can only rule in matters that occurred within the said county. In order to decide on a civil or criminal matter the court should also have personal jurisdiction which refers to the authority to arbitrate between the sparring parties.
Subject matter jurisdiction is another important consideration when discussing the Colorado court system. For instance, some courts are limited to deciding on certain types of cases.
Types of Courts in Colorado
Municipal Courts: Also known as county or city tribunals, these courts deal with offenses and violations that were committed within the geographical bounds of the city. This is a trial court of the lower level and it can only decide on matters involving city laws such as traffic offenses, shoplifting, disturbance violations and the likes. Civil cases handled by these tribunals are not supposed to have a claim amount of more than $15,000.
Water courts: As their name suggests, these tribunals only handle cases pertaining to water usage, rights and administration. There are seven water courts in the state.
Small claims court: These tribunals only preside in cases where the claim amount is less than $7500. The trials held are not decided on by the jury and the cases are usually argued by the parties involved in the dispute without legal aid.
District courts: This is a trial court of general jurisdiction which means that it can hear civil as well as criminal matters. District courts are in charge of handling family matters like divorce cases, felony as well as civil cases. The state of Colorado has 22 judicial districts and each of these has a district court. These tribunals have statewide jurisdiction regardless of the boundaries of the county or the district.
Court of appeals: Located in Denver, the Court of appeals is an appellate level tribunal that hears matters that come from lower courts. The chief judge of the Court of Appeals is appointed by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. All matters that are brought before the Colorado Court of Appeals are heard by a division of three judges.
The Colorado Supreme Court: Also known as the court of last resort, this appellate court was created by the constitution of the state. It handles cases that come from the court of appeals. It has discretionary jurisdiction which means that it can choose the cases that it handles. However, the Supreme Court is required to hear certain matters like capital punishment cases.