COLORADO- With lawmakers concluding their session last Friday, there’s been plenty of talk surrounding the disagreements between the two parties.
When it comes to judicial reform, lawmakers managed to pass bills that will have an impact on the judicial system- with bipartisan support.
Part of the changes included adding 15 judges across the state in district courts.
In southern Colorado, 2 more judges will be working in the 4th Judicial District, which includes El Paso and Teller counties over the next couple of years.
Pueblo County will also get an additional judge.
Lawmakers allocated more than $7 million to add more judges as well as additional staff within the judicial districts.
With more people moving to Colorado, lawmakers say there’s a backlog when it comes to civil and commercial cases.
With protections for criminal cases, others take a longer time to get court hearings.
“You hear from a lot of business people on both sides of those cases that they just don’t want to go to court it takes 2-3 years to have those cases resolved,” said Senator Bob Gardner, a Republican from Colorado Springs.
Gardner, along with Senator Pete Lee (D- El Paso County) sponsored legislation to add more district court judges.
“Most people want to get to court sooner than that, so the increased number of judges will speed it up,” said Lee.
The additional judges, just one piece of the puzzle as lawmakers made changes to the state’s judicial system.
Another bill creates a program to notify people of their court dates with a text message, similar to how doctors offices remind patients of appointments.
Lee says many people sitting in Colorado’s jails have “Failure to Appear” charges, state lawmakers hope by creating access to a notification system it could free up jail space.
“People miss their court dates because they forget it, or they don’t have transportation or child care,” said Lee.
It’s a program being done in other states, and Colorado’s program comes at a cost of about $203,000.
“We find that it improves the show rate on first appearances, remarkably enough that it’s worth the expense,” said Gardner.