CHAPTER 3: OVERVIEW OF THE COLORADO COURT SYSTEM - Table of Contents
3.1 - Overview of the Colorado Court System • 3.2 - Overview of the Criminal Justice Program • 3.3 - Prosecutors and Defense Lawyers • 3.4 - Overview of the Civil Justice Process • 3.5 - Plaintiff and Defense Counsel • 3.6 - State Courts in Boulder County • 3.7 - Municipal Courts in Boulder County • 3.8 - Small Claims Courts in Boulder County
3.7 MUNICIPAL COURTS IN BOULDER COUNTY
Every city in Colorado may establish certain rules that apply within that city. Cities that are designated as "home rule" cities have more leeway to establish rules than cities that are not home rule cities, but all cities are limited by the state constitution and state law as to what sorts of rules they can make and enforce. For example, the laws relating to the dissolution of marriage are set forth by various state statutes; a city is not free to set up its own divorce law and divorce court.
The home rule city rules may, nonetheless, address a wide variety of issues. Municipal elections, zoning, parks, land-use, business licensing and minor traffic and criminal matters are all topics that are typically covered. These rules are set forth in a municipal code. As with all rules and regulations, there are sometimes disagreements about interpretation in a particular situation. Sometimes, these disagreements are resolved by the city council or by a municipal board, e.g., a zoning board. Appeals from an adverse ruling of a city council or municipal board often go directly to district court. However, other matters, particularly the minor traffic and criminal matters, end up in municipal court.
Boulder and Longmont have full-time municipal court judges and staffs to support those judges. Those two cities also have full-time municipal court prosecutors who are employees of the city attorneys' offices in those cities. The other cities in Boulder County do not have enough business to justify full-time judges or prosecutors. Those cities hire lawyers on a part-time basis to act as the municipal court judge or prosecutor. The city council in each city is responsible for hiring the judge and the prosecutor. The specific process used by each city can be found in either the city charter or the municipal code of each city. Many municipal codes are now available on the internet.
Municipal courts follow a different set of rules than do state courts. The Colorado Municipal Court Rules of Procedure (C.M.C.R.) set out the rules of procedure under which municipal courts should operate. The C.M.C.R. are simpler and more flexible than the rules governing state courts. Each municipal court has its own quirks and local procedures, so it is wise to contact the clerk of the court when trying to ascertain the prosper procedures to use.
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