Effective March 1, 2009, less than four weeks from now, all lawyers representing parties in the Colorado Court of Appeals must file their appellate briefs in electronic form (on CD-ROM in a pdf format).
Actually, my headline overstates the matter. A single paper copy of briefs must also be provided (under prior rules multiple paper copies of briefs had to be provided). For reasons mysterious to me, the e-filing system used by the state's trial courts of general jurisdiction in civil cases, with which Colorado lawyers have several years of experience to get the kinks out, will not be used.
Still, this "Interim Policy" will save vast numbers of trees each year, and will greatly reduce the document storage burden of the Colorado Court of Appeals clerk. Perhaps the policy is an "Interim Policy" because a transition to the e-filing system used in other cases is contemplated. The policy could also have something to do with the fact that while civil cases in courts of general jurisdiction are almost entirely electronic now, criminal courts may have transitioned less fully in some jurisdictions and conduct far more of their business orally.
Court clerks and lawyers may provide other documents in the same way. This is a natural way to proceed because almost all courts from which the Colorado Court of Appeals hears appeals have mandatory e-filing of all pre-trial documents for lawyers in civil cases. In these cases, paper is used primarily for exhibits offered at trial and original wills filed in probate cases.
In the most recent fiscal year of the Colorado Court of Appeals, 2753 new case were filed. A little more than 10% of the court's cases involve worker's compensation, agency appeals and juvenile matters. The remaining cases are split almost equally between civil and criminal cases. About one out of eleven cases considered produces a published opinion with full precedential value. The Colorado Court of Appeals has nineteen judges at the moment.
Plans are in place to demolish the existing Colorado Judicial Building that houses the Colorado Supreme Court and Colorado Court of Appeals, and the adjacent Colorado History Museum, and to build a new state judicial building taking up the entire block at the same site next to Civic Center Park and adjacent to the state capitol building. The interim rule may also be designed to help manage the transition period between the demolition of the old building and the construction of the new one. (The Colorado History Museum will be relocated to a site that is currently a parking lot just a block away.)