Colorado Court Records
Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Public Records
Are Colorado Court Records Public?
Yes, Colorado court records are public records that may be inspected or copied by anyone. Colorado open records law ensures that records maintained by Colorado's government and law enforcement agencies are available for any member of the public to request and view. After the enactment of the FOIA law, Colorado's legislature acted in like-manner to create broad access to public records in the state.
Colorado's open records law was passed in 1968. Under Colorado's Open Records Act (CORA), all records are presumed publicly accessible except where exemptions from disclosure are established by law. Colorado's open records law underwent significant amendments in 1974 and 1977. Access to public records in the state is enshrined in two different laws: the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA). CORA provides that all public records be open for inspection by any individual at reasonable times, except where otherwise blocked by law. CCJRA governs the disclosure of criminal justice records, that is, the records made or maintained by law enforcement agencies such as police departments, sheriffs’ offices, and criminal courts.
How Do I Find Court Records in Colorado?
The first step to take when trying to obtain a court record in Colorado is to identify the court where the case recorded was filed. Colorado court record custodians keep official court records in electronic and paper formats. Court record custodians in Colorado are the Clerks of Court. Requesters can access court records in person or by remote access.
Interested persons can access electronic versions of case information from Colorado District and County Courts by using the Court Docket Search tool on the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Records of a case may be searched by selecting County Court or District Court and the county where the case was filed and then providing the case number, a party's first name or last name, or attorney bar number. Note that access to District and County Courts case documents and files is not available on the Colorado Judicial Branch website.
Copies of court records can also not be obtained on the site. For specific access to a particular court record, visit or contact the court in which the action was filed. The judicial branch website lists the locations of the District Courts or County Courts in the state.
Interested persons may also use the judicial branch's online Record/Document Request Form to request court records. Suppressed records or other protected documents may require a U.S. government-issued photo ID before release. Colorado charges 25 cents per electronic page, 75 cents per printed page, $25 for a transcript of judgment, and $20 per certified or exemplified copy. Other associated fees can be found on the document request page.
The Colorado State Archives holds Supreme Court case records and civil and criminal cases from several District and County Courts in the state. The State Archives maintains the case files which contain all documents filed in a case. To obtain information on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal cases, requesters will need to provide corresponding case numbers. To access case files from the District and County Courts, requesters must also provide the assigned case numbers. If case numbers cannot be provided, requesters are advised to contact the county or district where the case was filed to obtain the required case number.
Requesters can submit a formal record request to the Colorado State Archives in one of three ways:
- Online digital form
- Mail request
Note that there are fees associated with obtaining copies of records from the State Archive. However, no fees are charged for viewing the materials in person. A Colorado Archivist will contact the requester to arrange payment before processing a request. Mail requests to the State Archives must include the following information:
- Requester's name
- Requester's return address or preferred mailing address
- Requester's phone number
- The type of record requested
- The county where the case was filed
- The record's case number
- The name of any person or organization relevant to the search
- The requester's best guess of the date of the record
- The documents or the specific type of information needed from the requested materials
- Indication of record certification (if needed)
Requesters may send mail requests to:
Colorado State Archives
1313 Sherman St, Room 120
Denver, CO 80203-2274
The Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are located at:
Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center
2 East 14th Avenue
Denver, CO 80203
Persons interested in accessing Colorado Water Court rulings may visit the relevant division location to obtain or inspect these records.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. To gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:
- The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
- The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.
How Do Colorado Courts Work?
The Colorado court system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Courts, and County Courts. Special Juvenile and Probate Courts have jurisdiction over juvenile matters and probate cases. The Denver County Court functions as a Municipal Court and a County Court. Several other Municipal Courts exist in cities across Colorado. Although operating under the procedures set by the Supreme Court, Colorado Municipal Courts are separate from the state judicial system. In other areas where there are no Juvenile and Probate Courts, the District Courts are responsible for handling juvenile and probate matters. Locally funded Municipal Courts are also authorized by Colorado statutes to handle municipal ordinance violations.
The Colorado court system works by providing multi-level platforms for citizens to resolve their disputes. Each court serves a unique purpose or function. Nearly all court matters originate in a trial court or agency. There, judges and juries listen to witnesses, resolve issues of fact, and apply the law to the facts found. Subsequently, the court arrives at a decision that favors one of the parties to the case. The aggrieved party has the right to petition an appellate court for a review of the decision of the trial court.
In Colorado, the first-level appellate court must hear every appeal properly brought before it, ensuring that a litigant's case is reviewed at least once. The District Court is typically the first-level appellate court for the County and Municipal Courts. The Court of Appeals is the first-level appellate court for matters originating from the state's administrative agencies and the District Courts.
Colorado appellate courts do not accept new pieces of evidence during appeals. They correct errors that the trial judge may have made, such as inadvertently allowing specific evidence to be introduced. Colorado appellate courts do not decide facts. They review transcripts of trial court proceedings, research the law, and decide how the law should apply to the facts the trial judge, jury, or agency determined to be true. Where errors have been determined to substantially affect the fairness of a trial, the appellate courts may require the trial court, or the agency involved to hold a new trial.
Upon the review of the trial court's decision by the first-level appellate court, an aggrieved party may request a review by the court of last resort, the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in its discretionary jurisdiction may decide to hear the appeal or not. Like the other appellate courts, the Supreme Court reviews transcripts of the trial proceedings and then determines what the law is or should be for that matter. Its opinions are binding on itself and set precedence for all the lower courts in Colorado.
Colorado has seven Water Courts which are divisions of the District Court with jurisdictions over water rights and matters. Over 70 problem-solving courts exist in Colorado offering a non-traditional approach to integrating treatment provision and criminal justice case processing.
With over 300 judges and 3,500 support staff members, the Colorado court system is centrally administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and assisted by the State Court Administrator (SCA) appointed by the Chief Justice. The SCA Office is saddled with the responsibility of providing administrative support and services to the trial and appellate courts to assist them in providing Colorado citizens with prompt, fair, and economical forums to resolve disputes. The Office also supports the management of probation services to enhance public protection and offender rehabilitation.
What Are Civil Courts and Small Claims in Colorado?
Colorado Small Claims Courts are divisions of the County Court. Small claims courts rules are more relaxed than in other courts as individuals are allowed to argue their own cases. These courts allow for quick resolution of civil matters in which the amounts in controversy do not exceed $7,500. Filing fees are also much lower in small claims courts when compared to other courts. No jury trials are held in small claims courts.
Colorado Small Claims Courts sometimes use magistrates in handling cases instead of judges. Typically, both parties to a small claims case cannot be represented by attorneys, except in specific situations. Discovery is not permitted in small claims court, that is, neither party has the legal obligation to furnish information requested by the other party. Colorado Small Claims Courts do not permit plaintiffs to file more than two claims per month or 18 claims per year. A small claims case is usually filed in the county where the defendant resides, works, has a place of business, or in the area where the incident disputed occurred.
Colorado civil cases may be heard in the County Courts and the District Courts. County Courts have a higher threshold for the amount in dispute in civil cases. The damages cap for Colorado County Courts is $15,000. Discovery is permitted in County Court cases if requested. There is no limit on the amount of damage that may be requested in the civil cases brought before the District Courts in Colorado.
What Are Appeals and Court Limits in Colorado?
An appeal is a request made to a higher court to review the order or decision of a lower court. An appellate process is initiated when a party aggrieved by the judgment of a lower court seeks redress based on perceived legal errors committed by the trial court in deciding the facts of a case. In Colorado, an appeal in civil cases from a District Court must be filed in the Court of Appeals within 45 days after the entry of judgment in the District Court. Any cross-appeal must be filed with the Court of Appeal within 14 days of the date on which the first notice of appeal is filed. A cross-appeal is any additional appeal filed by other parties to the District Court case after the original notice of appeal has been filed with the appellate court.
In criminal cases, a notice of appeal must be filed by the defendant in the appellate court within 49 days from the entry of the judgment or order appealed. An advisory copy must be served on the clerk of the trial court within the same 49-day period. Colorado considers any notice of appeal filed after the announcement of an order, decision, or sentence but before the entry of the judgment or order, as filed on the date of such entry. An extension may be created in the period for appeal from a judgment of conviction if a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence is made within 14 days after entry of the judgment.
In the review of felony sentences, a notice of appeal must be filed within 49 days from the date of the imposition of sentence. This notice must be filed with the appellate court and an advisory copy served on the clerk of the trial court which imposed the sentence. The period for filing the notice of appeal may be extended by the appellate court.
What Are Colorado Judgment Records?
Judgment records in Colorado contain information about the eventual outcome of a criminal or civil case filed in a court of competent jurisdiction. Courts typically issue judgments after considering case facts, after the jury enters a verdict, or at the litigants’ request. In any way, these judgments become binding when the court clerk creates the judgment record. This also makes the document open for public inspections per the Colorado Open Records Act and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act.
Persons who wish to obtain these records must visit the clerk’s office and provide case information to facilitate a search. Furthermore, the individual must pay court administrative fees to cover the labor cost of retrieving the documents and making copies of the judgment record. These fees are payable by cash, money order, certified check, and credit card. Besides visiting the clerk’s office, requesters can also submit online requests for colorado judgment records. The same case information will be required to identify and retrieve the record of interest, including the case number and the litigants’ names.
Colorado judgment records contain varying information, depending on the case type. In any way, persons who obtain Colorado judgment records can expect to see the litigants’ names, the judge’s name, and judgment date. In addition, judgment records will contain the specific claims of the parties involved, as in civil cases, or the charges against the defendant, as in criminal cases, as well as the issued judgment.
What are Colorado Bankruptcy Records?
The term “Colorado Bankruptcy Records” relates to the collection of records of individuals filing for bankruptcy in the state. Colorado has a variety of rules for filing a new bankruptcy case. These details are available on the Court’s website, under the “Filing a Case” part of the Guide for Debtors Filing Bankruptcy Without an Attorney and the chapter-specific checklists. Immediately following the filing of a bankruptcy case, a meeting is held to allow creditors and the trustee to interrogate the debtor(s) under oath. The Bankruptcy Code Section 341(a) requires that this gathering, dubbed the Meeting of Creditors, be presided over by the trustee, not the judge.
Colorado bankruptcy records, along with related documents such as Colorado liens, contracts, judgments, and title deeds, are typically maintained and disseminated by the state’s courts and county clerks in their respective jurisdictions.
How Do I Find My Case Number in Colorado?
A case number is a unique number assigned to each action filed in the court. It is useful for court record custodians and requesters to track and find case documents more quickly. A case number can help identify the county where the case was filed, year of filing, court type, the judicial officer assigned to a case, and case type.
A requester can find a specific case number by contacting the court where the case is filed. Colorado District Courts and County Courts locations are listed on the Colorado judicial branch website. Record custodians in the courthouses charge a nominal fee for this service. A case number can also be found by providing the name of a party to the case and the county where the courthouse is located on the Docket Search portal of the Colorado judicial branch website. The resulting search page lists the case numbers matching the information provided.
Can You Look up Court Cases in Colorado?
Yes, Colorado court records are accessible online. Access to trial court case information is available through the Docket Search tool on the Colorado judicial branch website. Note that confidential or redacted court records cannot be accessed through this tool. Only case information is available online. To look up actual court documents and files or obtain copies of court documents, a visit to the local courthouse will be necessary.
Rulings of Colorado Water Court cases may be accessed from the individual webpages of the court's divisions on the state judicial branch website. The pages of the seven divisions are:
Case information from the Denver Juvenile Court may be accessed by using the 2nd Judicial District/Denver County Docket Search tool on the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Requesters may select the Denver Juvenile Court from the Court options on the tool and provide the case number, party's last name/company name, party's first name, or attorney's bar number. Note that information provided via this tool is not extensive as access to most juvenile court records is restricted.
Does Colorado Hold Remote Trials?
Yes, following the COVID-19 outbreak, Colorado courts now hold remote trials in balancing their responsibility of maintaining fair and effective administration of justice with public health considerations. Many Colorado courts now use WebEx and similar teleconferencing tools to conduct virtual court proceedings including oral arguments.
What Is the Colorado Supreme Court?
The Colorado Supreme Court is the apex court in the state and has appellate jurisdiction over cases involving:
- Adjudication of water rights
- Summary proceedings originating under the election code
- Writs of habeas corpus
- Decisions of the Public Utilities Commission
- Prosecutorial appeals regarding search and seizure questions in unresolved criminal proceedings
- Any Colorado statute that has been held to be unconstitutional by a trial court
The Colorado Supreme Court does not conduct trials, evidentiary, or sentencing hearings. The court hears oral arguments in the majority of the cases decided by its judges. Court rulings are normally issued within 270 days after the conclusion of oral arguments.
Decisions and orders of the Colorado Supreme Court are binding on the lower courts in the state. The Court plays an administrative role over the regulation and disciplinary proceedings of attorneys practicing in the state, court rulemaking process, and the budgeting process of the judicial branch. The Supreme Court oversees the State Court Administrator, Board of Continuing Legal Education, Board of Law Examiners, Commission on Judicial Discipline, and the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.
The Colorado Supreme Court comprises seven justices elected to ten-year terms. To be qualified for a justiceship position in the Colorado supreme court, an individual must be a qualified elector of Colorado and must have been licensed to practice law in the state for a minimum of five years.
Colorado Court of Appeals?
The Colorado Court of Appeals is the state's intermediate appellate court. The court was established to provide rapid and unbiased resolutions to appeals of orders and judgments of the trial courts in the state. It has initial jurisdiction, with exceptions, over appeals originating from the following courts:
- Denver Juvenile Court
- Denver Probate Court
- Colorado District Courts
The Court of Appeals also has appellate jurisdiction over decisions of specific Colorado administrative boards and entities such as the Industrial Claim Appeals Office. Decisions of the Court of Appeals' may be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.
The Court is located in Denver but may sit in any county seat to hear cases. Judges in the Court of Appeals sit in three-member panels to decide on cases. The Colorado Court of Appeals comprises 22 judges who are initially appointed to an approximate two-year term. Judges in the court may not hold their offices beyond the age of 72.
Colorado District Courts?
Colorado District Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction handling matters such as:
- Divorce and Custody matters
- Civil matters
- Juvenile matters
- Probate matters
- Criminal matters
- Mental health matters
Colorado is divided into 22 judicial districts with several counties making up a judicial district. Pueblo, Weld, Boulder, and Mesa counties all individually exist as separate judicial districts. District Court cases are typically appealed to the Court of Appeals and, in specific cases, directly to the Supreme Court. Each district is administered by a Chief Judge appointed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice. In all, there are 192 judges serving in Colorado District Courts. The judges serve six-year terms.
Colorado County Courts?
County Courts in Colorado are the state's trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Geographically, the jurisdiction of a County Court does not extend beyond the border of the county in which the court is located. Jury trials are held in many cases brought before Colorado's County Courts. There is a County Court in each of Colorado's 64 counties. County Courts handle cases such as:
- Civil cases in which the amount in dispute is under $25,000
- Traffic violations
- Felony complaints
- Protection orders
- Small claims cases
Judges in Colorado County Courts are authorized to issue search warrants as well as restraining orders in cases relating to domestic violence. Decisions of the County Courts may be appealed to the District Courts. Besides the 17 judges in the Denver County Court, there are 114 County Court judges in Colorado. County court judges are initially appointed to serve two-year terms. However, they may be retained via a retention election at the expiration of the provisional term.
Colorado Denver Juvenile Court?
Generally, Juvenile Courts are branches of the District Courts in Colorado and are therefore administratively combined. However, the Denver Juvenile Court is the only exception. The court has a dedicated bench that exclusively handles matters within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. Cases within the jurisdiction of the Denver Juvenile Court include matters of:
- Juvenile delinquency
- Juvenile dependency and neglect
- Child support and paternity
- Adoption cases
Most of the criminal cases held in the Denver Juvenile Court are bench trials heard by a judge rather than a jury. By law, a trial in the Denver Juvenile Court must be held within 60 days after a juvenile's plea of not guilty. However, in some instances, cases may be tried by a jury. Besides standard case processing, the Denver Juvenile Court operates several specialized dockets and works in conjunction with other agencies in Denver to develop innovative programming, such as rehabilitative programs for juveniles.
Colorado Denver Probate Court?
Referred to as the 24th judicial district, the Denver Probate Court geographic jurisdiction covers the City and County of Denver. The court has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters of probate. Probate matters include issues of wills, trusts, guardianships, and conservatorships. Other matters handled in the Denver Probate Court include settlements of estates of deceased persons, appointments of guardians, conservators and administrators, settlement of their accounts, the adjudication of mentally ill, and any other jurisdiction as may be provided by law. For counties outside of Denver, probate issues are generally handled by the District Courts.
Colorado Water Court?
Pursuant to the Water Right Determination and Administration Act of 1969, Colorado created seven water divisions according to the state's drainage patterns. Each division is staffed with an engineer, a water judge, a water referee appointed by the water judge, and a water clerk designated by the District Court. Water Court judges are district judges appointed by the Supreme Court and have jurisdiction over:
- The determination of water rights
- The use and administration of water
- Any other water matters within the water division.
Water court judges also have a mandatory retirement age of 72. The locations of the water divisions are listed on the Colorado judicial branch website.
Colorado Municipal Courts?
Colorado Municipal Courts are created by statute with local jurisdictions. These courts only handle cases of municipal ordinance violations within a city's geographical boundaries. Pursuant to C.R.S. 13-10-101, Municipal Courts are established as courts of records and handled cases pertaining to:
- Zoning violations
- Traffic tickets
- Animal control matters
- Disturbing the peace
Municipal Courts are separate from the state judicial system but are operated by the rules and procedures established by the Colorado Supreme Court. The government of the city where a Municipal Court is located typically appoints judges for its Municipal Court in line with the city laws.
Colorado Problem-Solving Courts?
Colorado problem-solving courts offer a non-traditional approach to integrating treatment provision and criminal justice case processing. These courts work in close alliance with multi-disciplinary teams such as members of the judicial treatment communities to offer accountability, treatment, and services to offenders in order to reduce substance abuse and recidivism
There are over 75 problem-solving courts in the 22 judicial districts in Colorado. Programs offered by Colorado problem-solving courts include: