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How do Colorado Courts work?

The Supreme Court is the highest legal authority in the state of Colorado. It resides over the decisions made by the Court of Appeals, allowing it to weigh in on key conflicts, legal questions, and precedents. In turn, the Court of Appeals carries out a similar function over the lower Colorado courts, but only when one party contests a decision made. These lower courts are made up of the 64 trial and superior courts across the state’s 64 counties. Other tiers of court include the District Courts, the County Courts, and the Water Courts.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

There are a number of differences between how civil and small claims courts operate, as well as which types of cases they each take on. For example, civil courts in Colorado deal with claimants who are seeking more than $200,000 in compensation or funds. There are nearly 150,000 of these a year across the state. However, they can also include non-monetary cases, such us restraining orders, name changes, and dispute over property. On the other hand, the small claims court deals with just that, small claims. In Colorado, the small claims court handles petitioners seeking $7,500 or under. It is not represented by counsel, and there are nearly 100,000 cases filed each year. These can include disputes over warranties, loans, deposits, repairs, and much more. The small claims court can also order a defendant into an action, such as paying back a fee of some kind.

Appeals and court limits

There are also a number of key differences between the structure of the appeals process in small claims and civil court, and the respective court limits. For example, small claims court does not allow pretrial discovery, but civil court in Colorado does. A person can also hire a lawyer to represent them and file papers on their behalf in civil court, but not in small claims court. Only the party who was sued can appeal in small claims court, but either party can appeal in civil court. There is a filing fee of $30-$100 per claim in small claims court, after which each party is given 30-70 days to complete their case. On the other hand, civil court claims have a filing fee of $180-$320 and each party is then given up to 120 days to complete their case.

Why are court records public?

The Colorado Public Records act was passed back in 1969, with the most recent changes coming in 1977. This act was put in place to allow any member of the public across the state to access public records at will. All records held by the state and local government can be accessed and copied by residents, as long as it is not prohibited by another law. This disclosure not only promotes a sense of transparency between government and public, but also helps to safeguard government accountability.

To access records:


Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center
Colorado Supreme Court
1300 Broadway, Suite 500
Denver, CO 80203

Telephone: (303) 457-5800
Or toll free: (877) 888-1370
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


Colorado Court Structure
Colorado State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (719) 356-5351

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.


The Hinsdale County Courthouse, located in Lake City, Colorado, was first built in 1877.

  • There are 8 types of courts in Colorado. They consist of the Municipal Courts, County Courts, District Courts, the Denver Probate Court, the Water Court, the Denver Juvenile Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Colorado Supreme Court.
  • The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. The 7 judges in the court serve for 10 years each.
  • The first Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice was Benjamin F. Hall, who served from 1861 to 1863.
  • The Colorado Courts of Appeals is the second highest court in the state. There are 22 judges serving 8 year terms.
  • There are 22 judicial court districts in the state of Colorado.