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Choosing Your Own Judge in Colorado

Can you select the Judge that will decide your divorce in Denver?

Can you select the Judge that will decide your case in Arapahoe County?

Can you select the Judge that will decide your case in Douglas County?

Actually, you can choose the Judge that will decide your case in Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, or any other County in Colorado.

In Colorado, there is a little known process that allows divorcing parties to hire their own Judge.   The primary requirement is that the Judge has to have actually been a State Judge and is no longer sitting on the bench.   Under this process, once the parties agree which Judge to hire, they request the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court to appoint the Judge to their case.

Once the Judge is appointed to preside over the matter, the Judge has the same authority as a District Court Judge. Therefore, the parties retain their full appellate rights. This is quite different from hiring an Arbitrator.  

Although it might seem extravagant to hire your own Judge, the benefits can be immense. The benefits of hiring your own Judge include:

The ability to get to trial in a timely manner:   Some counties, such as Douglas County, have clogged up dockets that make getting divorced a very lengthy process. For example, in Douglas County, hearing dates are setting out approximately 14 months. Therefore, if you cannot resolve your divorce through mediation, or other means, and have to go to court, it might take you 1 ½ years to get in front of a Judge. Moreover, once you get a firm hearing date, you might not finish your case in the time allotted. That might require the case to be continued.

The ability to select a Judge who will give you and your case the time it deserves: If your case involves complex financial matters and/or children, you and your attorney must have enough time to persuasively present your case to the Judge. Your case might require hours of testimony from you and expert witnesses. Your case might also require your attorney to cross examine the other party and their experts for hours in order to show the Judge that the other party is lying or that their expert’s opinion is not well reasoned. The Judge also needs time to listen attentively to the testimony in order to provide well-reasoned decision for you.   Unfortunately, District Court Judges have more than just your case to manage. They are responsible for managing large dockets and getting hundreds of cases through the system in the most efficient manner possible. Unfortunately, these competing demands often result in Judges allocating court room time in a manner that fits their caseload, and not your case. Therefore, even though you and your attorney need 2 or 3 days to present all of the evidence and properly cross examine the other party and their expert witnesses, if any, the Court might only provide you one day because the Judge has 30 other cases that have to be heard that month. Therefore, you and your attorney are forced to present only a brief overview of your case. When a Judge cannot provide the parties a reasonable amount of courtroom time, the Judge is placed in a position of making a decision based on only a portion of the relevant and possibly outcome determinative evidence that exists. This can result is the Judge making a poorly reasoned decisions which will forever impact you and your children. It is an unfortunate fact that poor decisions regarding financial matters, parenting time and custody are made on a daily basis because the Judges do not have the resources to allocate the time necessary for each case.  

Save money: Although you have to pay the Judge by the hour, the savings can be immense.   The regular court system has inefficient procedural requirements and demands that can be time consuming and therefore costly. The more time your attorney and his staff has to spend navigating the formal and inefficient court system, the more it costs.   Plus, the cost of trying to appeal and overturn a poor decision can take over a year and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, even if you win the appeal and get a new hearing in front of the Judge, you might have to try the entire case again, within the same limited time constraints that caused the problem in the first place.  

Therefore, hiring your own Judge can save you time and money and can result in you getting what you and your children deserve.

Therefore, if it looks like your case is going to court, you should strongly consider meeting with an attorney who can help you determine whether hiring a private Judge is the right thing to do for you.