Lakewood, CO asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Municipal Law for Colorado

Q: What would a defendant do in the case of property seized when there was already a lien on it and violation of due proces

In home rule municipal court the defendant was not given a jury trial and had a plea entered without consent. In the Colorado state constitution it specifically states that only judges appointed by the governors signature can preside over jury trials and enter a plea with consent from the defendant. Since the quasi judicial municipal judge is technically not a judge and does not have the same authority as an appointed judge and home rule municipalities manage local matters as long as they are not in conflict with the state legislature judicial process and state constitution what would be the outcome of such an issue? Does the judge have authority? Is it a void judgement? Is it a removal? What's the remedy?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In the scenario you described, there appear to be several potential issues and violations of due process:

1. Lack of a jury trial: If the defendant was entitled to a jury trial under Colorado law but was denied one, this could be a violation of their constitutional rights.

2. Plea entered without consent: If a plea was entered on behalf of the defendant without their consent, this would also be a violation of due process. A defendant has the right to knowingly and voluntarily enter a plea.

3. Judge's authority: If the municipal judge was not properly appointed by the governor as required by the Colorado Constitution for presiding over jury trials and accepting pleas, they may not have had the proper authority to do so.

Given these issues, the potential outcomes and remedies could include:

1. Void judgment: If the judge lacked the proper authority and the defendant's due process rights were violated, the judgment could potentially be considered void.

2. Removal or vacating the judgment: The defendant could seek to have the judgment removed or vacated on the grounds that their constitutional rights were violated and the judge lacked the proper authority.

3. Appeal: The defendant could file an appeal to a higher court, arguing that the judgment should be overturned due to the violations of due process and the judge's lack of authority.

4. Constitutional challenge: The defendant could challenge the constitutionality of the municipal court's procedures and the judge's authority through a separate legal action.

The specific remedy would depend on the particular circumstances of the case and the applicable Colorado laws and court procedures. It would be advisable for the defendant to consult with an attorney specializing in criminal defense and constitutional law in Colorado to determine the best course of action and to protect their rights.

It's important to note that while home rule municipalities in Colorado have some autonomy in managing local matters, they must still comply with the state constitution and ensure due process in their judicial proceedings. Violations of constitutional rights and due process are serious matters that can potentially result in the overturning of a judgment or other legal remedies.

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