University of Denver

Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project Begins January 1, 2012; IAALS to Measure Outcomes

Former Senior Director

On January 1, 2012, Colorado launched its “Civil Access Pilot Project Applicable to Business Actions in District Court.” Five Denver metro-area courts will use new rules of civil procedure in certain types of cases for a period of two years, in an effort to better serve the needs of litigants. The rules are intended to address the problems of pretrial cost and delay in an even-handed way, by streamlining the process and minimizing the opportunities for gamesmanship. The basic idea is that through new pleading and disclosure procedures, all known information comes to light at the earliest possible point. With the disputed issues thus narrowed and framed, the parties and the court work together to shape a discovery process proportionate to the needs of the case. In addition, one judge provides close management to ensure that the case stays on track. If the Pilot Project is successful, more litigants will have access to a trial in Colorado district courts, where the current civil trial rate stands at less than 1%. 

The Civil Access Pilot Project is a multi-year effort to bring the spirit of innovation into Colorado courts. Initially, experienced members of the Colorado trial bar and judiciary formed a balanced committee to explore ways to improve the civil justice process. This committee then submitted a draft set of rules to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ultimately authorized the Civil Access Pilot Project for business cases. The Court has designated IAALS to collect and analyze data during the two-year period to help determine whether the rules achieve their goals and deserve consideration by the Colorado Civil Rules Committee. IAALS is working in consultation with the National Center for State Courts on this project.

Additional project-specific information and materials are available here.