A Toolbox for Colorado’s Courts
State court administrator talks about needs and goals for judiciary

by Tony Flesor

Colorado’s state court administrator, Steven Vasconcellos, stepped into the position permanently last October after having served in an interim role. He refers to his office as a “service agency” that supports Colorado’s courts and advocates for the resources and programs they need. Law Week Colorado sat down with Vasconcellos in February to discuss implications of the state’s double-digit increase in criminal filings, a pilot program to help self-represented litigants in domestic relations cases and a new judicial district.

LAW WEEK: Last year a bill created a number of new district court judge positions, and I remember an increase in felony filings over the past several years was a particular driver of the need. It’s been not quite a year since that bill was passed. And I’m really curious to know, how is the judicial department gauging whether the new district judge positions that were created are adequate to handle kind of the increase in docket loads that we’ve been seeing?

Note: Senate Bill 43 in 2019 created 15 total new district judge positions across the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st Judicial Districts. In his State of the Judiciary address to the legislature, Chief Justice Nathan Coats mentioned a statewide jump in criminal filings as a key reason for the need.

VASCONCELLOS: So you’re correct. The primary driver for the request was an over 40% increase in felony criminal filings over the last five-year period. But the other component to remember is that we were not fully staffed on our district court bench prior to that. Our office tracks case filings, and we do workload modeling.

To read this and other complete articles featured in the March 2, 2020 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.