Great candidate forum at Moe’s tonight. Lots of good questions about court issues vs. council/policy issues, the Code of Judicial Conduct, and assessing credibility in witnesses. Apparently I also invented a new hand gesture? It was actually fun–how often does a group of people get to discuss and think about the three branches of government? Thanks to Moe’s for hosting and ECOG for organizing.
Not all municipal courts handle domestic violence cases, but Englewood does. It is a great service to the community to have these handled locally–they often involve multiple court appearances, neighbors are frequently witnesses, and having a smaller court environment that can spend more time on the case makes a big difference. These cases often involve No Contact orders. Sometimes the parties want those orders more tailored to their situation–if the parties are raising kids together, it can be appropriate to allow texting to coordinate parenting tasks. The safety of all parties is paramount. Englewood has a Victim Advocate who helps the victim understand what is going on and can help the court understand the case. If a defendant pleads or is found guilty, counseling and classes are standard, as well as restitution for the victim.
Saturday: a full day of talking to voters, volunteering at the Block Party, and dinner with family. Sunday: a full day of setting up volunteers to go door-to-door for me, door-to-door myself with master volunteer Denise Marques, some mac and cheese from the Whiskey Biscuit (the owners are former clients of mine, and great guys), and now some rest!
Very fun meet-the-candidate event last night, including discussions of Cinder-alley (for the Englewood old-timers) and Curtis Advisements (for real!). Thanks everybody!
A great talk this morning with Jessica Luem, who has dedicated her career to helping vulnerable people in this community. Many great ideas for the role the municipal court can play in getting people on the right track. (Also some commiserating about raising teenagers.) Looking forward to many more conversations!
A profound moment in court today. An offender pled guilty and expressed his remorse over the incident, and talked about the changes he has made in his life since it happened. The victim was in the courtroom and spoke about the effect of the crime on him and his family. The offender heard it, absorbed it, and looked the victim in the eye and apologized. This does not happen every day. And it’s a privilege to be able to facilitate those moments—to maintain a safe courtroom space that allows victims to express themselves, if they choose to, and to be heard.
What the heck do municipal courts in Colorado do? You asked, so:
A typical Wednesday at the Englewood Municipal Court:
8:30am People who have received Englewood traffic tickets are arraigned (the judge explains their rights and their options for entering a plea), some receive plea offers from the city prosecutor. For those pleading guilty (straight up, or with an offer), the judge makes sure the pleas are voluntary, knowing, and intelligently made. If a guilty plea is accepted, the judge proceeds to sentencing. The list of things a judge considers in sentencing is LONG. Just a taste: past offenses; nature of the offense, effect on victims and the public; attitude of the offender; age and background of the offender, etc.
10:30am Arraignments for non-traffic tickets.
11:30am The “stay” docket. A docket that allows defendants who need more time to pay fines or costs to explain their situation.
1:00pm Video arraignments from the Arapahoe County Jail. Defendants who are arrested on Englewood tickets and taken into custody are seen via video and arraigned. If they plead “not guilty,” bail is set, along with a future court date to prepare for trial. If they plead “guilty”, sentencing happens immediately.
2:30pm Juvenile arraignments. The first appearance for juveniles who receive an Englewood ticket. They must have a parent or guardian with them. Juveniles often receive plea offers, sometimes deferred judgment offers. The judge must determine whether the plea is knowing, voluntary, and intelligently made. Sentences often include community service and school attendance and grade requirements, with return court dates to show progress.
Each day has a different docket schedule, with trials usually set on Mondays and Fridays. Most people aren’t aware of the heavy load Colorado’s municipal courts take in adjudicating misdemeanors–fairly, quickly, and efficiently.