IAALS Hails Steps Forward on Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project

DENVER, CO – The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver today applauds the Colorado Supreme Court for approving the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project. This visionary step forward joins a national trend among states committed to improving the delivery of court services and giving plaintiffs and defendants access to a just, speedy and inexpensive court system.IAALS offered staffing and research assistance to the project committee responsible for drafting the initial proposed rule changes. The changes will be applied in business actions in five Denver Metro area district courtrooms over a two year period of time. The purpose of the project is to make the civil litigation process less costly and less time-consuming.

Projects are underway in state courts in New Hampshire, Oregon, Massachusetts, Utah and Wyoming. Two other states – Iowa and Minnesota – are exploring potential reform efforts. The National Center for State Courts intends to monitor and evaluate up to four of the projects.

“Lawyers and judges owe it to society at large to make sure that the system is the best it can be,” says Rebecca Love Kourlis, Executive Director of IAALS. “These rules are certainly not magical or perfect, but they are a thoughtful, innovative step in the right direction and will provide data that will lead to permanent improvements in the system.”

Gordon W. Netzorg, one of the co-chairs of the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project Rules Committee agrees that this is a step forward. “The rules will provide greater access to the courts for many plaintiffs and defendants who cannot afford justice under the current rules, and the rules will help focus proceedings and lower costs for people involved in major litigation,” says Netzorg.

The concept of the pilot project springs from principles first introduced in 2009 by IAALS together with the American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery.

Litigants, lawyers, judges, and concerned citizens are struggling with the fact that the civil justice process has become increasingly convoluted and expensive. One outcome of that fact is the dwindling number of civil jury trials and the resultant lack of citizen participation in the system.

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