In re Interest of E.B. - Virtual Hearings and Due Process
The law is comprised of both statute and caselaw. Statute sets forth the basic law as created by the legislature. However, statutes are general in nature and it is not always clear how they apply to a specific set of facts. Appellate courts interpret the statutes as they apply to a specific set of facts where a party does not agree with a trial court decision. We can learn a great deal about the law by reviewing appellate decisions.
The Colorado Supreme Court has provided guidance on virtual proceedings setting forth that COVID-19 changed the nature of in-person hearings. Virtual proceedings have decreased the substantial cost to litigants of in-person court appearances, such as taking time off from work, travel time and cost, and attorney travel expense to the client. The availability of attorneys to represent clients across the state without travel also affords increased opportunities for legal representation.
There is also detriment in virtual proceedings. Parties often settle on the eve of trial outside of the courtroom in in-person settings. There is a loss of decorum in virtual appearance. Additionally virtual appearance requires additional effort from judges and courtroom staff. The Chief Justice Directive allows judicial officers to determine how hearings will be held within specified parameters. Chief Justices in each judicial district may also set forth local directives and requirements.
In In re Interest of E.B., a virtual dependency and neglect hearing was held and Father appeared to attempt to log in to the hearing, however was unsuccessful. The juvenile court refused a continuance based on Father's absence. The Court of Appeals reversed on due process grounds. However the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the trial court order because Father failed to show how his presence could have changed the juvenile court's determination that the four statutory criteria for termination were met. Because Father had not established prejudice, due process was not implicated. The Court determined that for reversal a virtual hearing attendance issue must likely affect the outcome and a technical issue alone does not warrant reversal.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law Solutions has more than 20 years of legal experience and protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.