The First Few Bills Introduced to the Judiciary Committees

Colorado’s second regular session of the 73rd General Assembly gaveled in last week. So far, lawmakers have introduced more than 20 bills to the judiciary committees. Bills introduced so far include one that would increase rights for youths to access counsel in dependency and neglect proceedings, one would prohibit pretrial release for people accused of repeat or violent offenses and one would make updates to the Victim Rights Act.

The following bills have been assigned to the judiciary committees.

Description: Right To Counsel For Youth

Sponsors: Sens. Moreno (D) and Gardner (R) and Reps. Daugherty (D) and Van Beber (R)

Summary: Current law requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem for children or youth in dependency and neglect cases. The bill would require client-directed counsel be appointed for children or youth 12 years or older to provide specialized client-directed legal representation. The bill prohibits the waiver of a youth's right to counsel in dependency and neglect proceedings. The bill also allows youths to be a party in a dependency and neglect proceeding. For a child or youth 12 years of age or older with diminished capacity, a guardian ad litem will remain in the role and separate counsel for the youth must be appointed.

Description: Modifications To Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity

Sponsors: Reps. Amabile (D) and Benavidez (D)

Summary: The bill would require the court to order an evaluation of a defendant found not guilty by reason of insanity to determine whether the defendant meets the criteria for inpatient hospitalization or if the defendant is eligible for conditional release in the community. No later than 10 days after receiving the evaluation, the court will be required to hold a hearing to determine whether to order inpatient hospitalization or to authorize release of the defendant for community placement or if they qualify for conditional release. The bill would also prohibit a defendant found not guilty by reason of insanity from remaining confined in inpatient hospitalization for a period exceeding the maximum terms of their sentencing.

Description: Damages In Class Actions Consumer Protection Act

Sponsors: Sen. Rodriguez (D) and Rep. Woodrow (D)

Summary: The bill would allow successful plaintiffs in class actions under the "Colorado Consumer Protection Act" to recover actual damages, injunctive relief allowed by law and reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Description: Jail Standards Commission

Sponsors: Reps. Amabile (D) and Benavidez (D)

Summary: The bill would create the 20-member Colorado jail standards commission in the department of public safety. The commission would create standards for the operation of Colorado's county jails and update those standards as necessary.

Description: Access To Suppressed Court Eviction Records

Sponsors: Sen. Winter (D) and Rep. Woodrow (D)

Summary: Under existing law, a court record in an eviction proceeding is automatically suppressed and only available to judges, court staff, a party to the case and the party's attorneys if applicable, authorized judicial department staff and a person with a valid court order authorizing access. The bill would permit an attorney, with permission of a party included in a suppressed court record, to access the record to provide the party legal advice or to evaluate whether to enter an appearance on behalf of the party included in the record.

Description: Pretrial Release For Repeat And Violent Offenders

Sponsors: Sen. Woodward (R) and Reps. Bradfield (R) and Soper (R)

Summary: Current law prohibits a court from releasing a person on an unsecured personal recognizance bond without consent of the district attorney or unless the court imposes certain conditions of release for qualified persons. The bill would remove the provisions regarding district attorney consent and additional conditions of release and would prohibit a court from releasing a person accused of repeat or violent offenses on any unsecured personal recognizance bond. The bill's definition of a "person accused of repeat or violent offenses" would include a person who is accused of committing a crime of violence and the court finds probable cause to believe that the person has committed the offense. The bill would also clarify that, for a person accused of repeat or violent offenses, a reasonable monetary condition is at least $7,500.

Description: Victim Rights Act 

Sponsors: Sens. Fields (D) and Gardner (R) and Reps. Tipper (D) and Carver (R)

Summary: The bill would update the Victim Rights Act. Updates would include allowing a victim or the victim's designees to appear in court proceedings in person, by phone or virtually; requiring defendants to attend sentencing hearings to hear the victim's impact statement, unless the court excludes the defendant; requiring the court to provide the victim or the victim's designees with translation or interpretation services as needed during all critical stages of the hearing; clarifying that a victim or the victim's designees have a right to consult with the prosecution after any crime against the victim has been charged, and the prosecutor shall explain the sentencing terms; and other updates.

Description: Committee On Legal Services Procedures

Sponsors: Sens. Lee (D) and Gardner (R) and Reps. Soper (R) and Weissman (D)

Summary: The bill would direct the committee on legal services to adopt its own rules of procedure. The bill would authorize the committee to approve questions concerning retention of legal counsel or other time-sensitive matters by poll of the committee in lieu of a meeting, unless a committee member objects. If the committee approves a question, other than a question concerning retention of legal counsel, the committee must ratify the approval at the next committee meeting.

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