Bloch & Chapleau News
Introduction to Colorado Civil Trial Courts
The Colorado court system has three basic levels of civil trial courts, each with its own jurisdictional limits and rules of procedure: (1) Small Claims Court; (2) County Court, and (3) District Court. Small Claims Court cases have a damages cap of $7,500, and generally do not allow attorneys to participate, unless the defendant chooses to have an attorney. The advantages of Small Claims Court are lower filing fees and an earlier trial date. However, there is virtually no discovery in Small Claims Court and cases are heard by a magistrate, not a jury.
In County Court, attorneys may represent the parties without limitation, there is more discovery, and the parties may request that a jury decide the case. However, due to the $15,000 damages cap, the parties will want to keep costs at a minimum, and thus depositions and expert testimony are rarely utilized in County Court unless requested by the parties and ordered by the Court.
Colorado District Courts handle nearly every type of civil case and there are no caps on damages unless dictated by statute. District Court cases typically involve more complex claims, and the rules of procedure and discovery are comprehensive and strictly enforced. Thus, the parties should obtain legal counsel whenever District Court litigation is required, as the stakes are much higher.
Bloch & Chapleau is a full service, civil litigation firm. For more information on the three basic levels of Colorado civil trial courts, as well as the other Colorado courts, visit the Colorado State Judicial Branch Website at courts.state.co.us.