University of Denver

Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project

In August 2009, a group of local practitioners and members of the Colorado judiciary began meeting in order to explore whether Colorado courts might be a viable jurisdiction for a pilot project based on some of the Principles in the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) Task Force on Discovery and IAALS Final Report. The committee focused on two case types for a potential pilot project—medical negligence and business litigation.

The committee presented the proposed Civil Access Pilot Project (CAPP) rules to the Chief Judge and judges in the districts that expressed initial interest, and submitted the CAPP to the Colorado Supreme Court for consideration. The Court requested comments and held a public hearing on the CAPP, and formed a working group for the purpose of reviewing the comments and formulating recommendations for the Court. On June 22, 2011, the Colorado Supreme Court voted to implement a pilot project that will apply generally to business actions, with a few exceptions—for example, employment cases, construction defect actions, cases where the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act may provide a defense, and cases involving wages and forcible entry. The pilot project went into effect on January 1, 2012, in four judicial districts, for a two-year period. In June 2013, former Chief Justice Michael L. Bender amended Chief Justice Directive 11-02 and extended the pilot project for one year. In July 2014, Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice extended the pilot project for an additional six months, through June 30, 2015, so as to provide the court time to consider the impact of the pilot project and what, if any, changes to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure should be proposed or adopted.

At the request of the Court, IAALS studied the effect of the pilot. In April 2014, IAALS released its Preliminary Findings on the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project. IAALS has followed this up with a final evaluation of the project, Momentum for Change: The Impact of the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project, released in October 2014. The analysis revealed that the CAPP process as a whole succeeded in achieving many of its intended effects, including a reduced time to disposition, increased court interaction, proportional discovery and costs, and a lower level of motions practice. Much of the positive feedback related to CAPP’s early, active, and ongoing judicial management of cases, with many calling for this to become a permanent feature of the rules.

In anticipation of the end of CAPP, a subcommittee of the Colorado Civil Rules Committee, known as the Improving Access to Justice Subcommittee, proposed revisions to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. On May 28, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted changes to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, effective July 1, 2015 for cases filed on or after July 1, 2015. The amendments are substantial and incorporate the best of CAPP, while also incorporating the proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2015.

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