It has long been a cornerstone of the American legal system that parties appear in person at the courthouse for their legal proceedings. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the system had to adapt, allowing parties to appear virtually for a variety of legal matters.
Although COVID-19 concerns have decreased since the implementation of the temporary measures permitting virtual appearances, many jurisdictions have recognized that virtual proceedings can still be extremely beneficial, even in a post-COVID-19 world.
If you are considering filing a lawsuit in Colorado, you may be wondering whether and to what extent you may be able to complete your case virtually. Use our guide below to learn more about navigating Colorado virtual court and see how the experienced litigators at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, can help you fight for your rights moving forward.
An Overview of Colorado Virtual Court Proceedings
The Supreme Court of Colorado recently issued a new Directive (Chief Justice Directive 23-03) effective August 1, 2023, authorizing the continued use of virtual proceedings under certain circumstances. Keep reading to learn more about virtual proceedings in Colorado courts, when you may be permitted to appear virtually, and how to do so.
Benefits of Colorado Virtual Court
In the years since Colorado courts first began allowing virtual court appearances, a number of benefits have become apparent. Some of the benefits include:
- Greater flexibility and accessibility afforded to those who would otherwise have difficulty traveling to court physically due to childcare responsibilities, lack of transportation, and other logistical barriers;
- Less time required of parties and legal counsel due to not having to travel to and from the courthouse;
- Reduced amount of time a party may need to take off of work as a result;
- Reduced costs for travel and reduced attorney fees for waiting in court for the case to be called; and
- Less stress on parties when appearing virtually as opposed to in person.
Of course, there are certain disadvantages of virtual court, such as connectivity and other technological difficulties that can arise. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Colorado virtual court has gone a long way toward simplifying legal proceedings and making them accessible and efficient for participants.
Presumptively In-Person Proceedings
That said, not all legal proceedings can be done virtually. Currently, there are a number of proceedings that are presumptively in-person. This means that the proceeding will require an in-person appearance unless the court determines that there is good cause to permit a virtual appearance instead.
Notably, all trials, including both jury trials and bench trials (i.e., a trial before the judge only and without a jury), are presumptively in-person. Thus, be aware that regardless of what type of case you have filed, if it goes all the way to trial, there is a strong likelihood that you will not be able to complete your entire case virtually.
Requesting That Your Proceeding Be Held Remotely
As noted above, however, even where a proceeding is presumptively in-person, as in the case of a trial, you can still request by motion that the court permit you to appear virtually if there is good cause to do so. When determining whether good cause exists for a virtual appearance, the court may consider factors such as:
- Whether all parties have agreed that the proceeding should be held virtually;
- The potential cost and time savings to any parties involved;
- Whether there are any transportation, childcare, or other barriers for any parties;
- The anticipated length of time the particular proceeding will take; and
- The importance and complexity of the particular proceeding.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list, and the judge presiding over your case may weigh any other relevant factors in making their determination.
Appearing in Colorado Virtual Court Via Webex
For proceedings where virtual appearance is authorized, Colorado courts use a platform called Webex. Before making your virtual appearance, it is generally recommended that you download the app on your phone, computer, or tablet and not use the browser version. Additionally, it will be important to be familiar with the app itself beforehand so that you know how to:
- Mute and unmute your microphone;
- Allow the app access to your camera so that you appear on video for the judge and other participants; and
- Use the screen share function in the event that you have any exhibits or other materials that you want to show at your hearing or trial.
You can find more information on how to participate in Webex court hearings through the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Webex Training resources.
Contact the Tenge Law Firm Today
Even if you are able to appear virtually throughout your entire case, it’s important to remember that these will still be formal legal proceedings with serious legal ramifications. Thus, having a litigation attorney in your corner with experience navigating the legal system, as well as these new statewide updates regarding virtual appearances, can be an invaluable asset to your case.
At the Tenge Law Firm, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional service and personalized legal representation to our clients in need, regardless of whether your case requires virtual appearances, in-person appearances, or both. If you have questions about Colorado virtual court or the process for pursuing your legal claim in general, we want to help.
Contact our team to schedule your free consultation to discuss your case and see how the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, can help you move forward today.
Do Colorado Courts Permit Zoom Trial Proceedings?
No, trial proceedings via Zoom are not authorized in Colorado courts. However, in certain situations, a judge may permit a virtual trial. In these situations, Colorado courts use a platform called Webex, rather than Zoom, for virtual appearances.
Can I Complete My Entire Case Virtually Without Physically Going to Court?
In short, it will depend on the type of case you are bringing and the specific facts involved. Typically, if your case has to go all the way to trial, the trial will be held in person. However, you may be able to avoid appearing in person if the judge presiding over your case finds good cause to permit virtual appearances at trial and any other hearings beforehand.
Where Can I Find Information About My Upcoming Court Appearance?
The Colorado Judicial Branch Court Docket Search website allows you to easily find information about your case. Using the Court Docket Search, you can locate information such as the date and time of your hearing, the type of hearing, whether your appearance will be virtual or in-person, the case number, and the courtroom (if appearing in person).