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In re Marriage of James - Magistrate Review of Orders

In re Marriage of James - Magistrate Review of Orders

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.

As a prelude to the case, C.R.C.P. 59 allows for a party to request generally:

  • A new trial;
  • Judgement Notwithstanding the Verdict;
  • Amendment of findings; or
  • Amendment of judgment

A court may grant a new trial for generally:

  • An irregularity in the proceedings;
  • Accident or surprise
  • Newly discovered evidence;
  • Excessive or inadequate damages; or
  • Error in law;

The time for filing a C.R.C.P. 59 motion is initiated by an entry of judgment if the parties are present, or by mailing of a notice of the judgment if all parties were not present. The court shall decide any post-trial motion within 63 days of the filing date. Any post-trial motion that has not been decided within 63 days is considered denied and the time for appeal begins on that date. The primary purpose of a motion to amend judgment or for new trial is to provide the court an opportunity to correct any errors. In re Jones, 668 P.2d 980 (Colo. App. 1983). Where a timely motion for a new trial is filed, the district court must set the motion for hearing or decide based on the motion practice. Danielson v. Kerbs AG., Inc., 646 P.2d 363 (Colo. 1982).

In In re Marriage of James, the Colorado Court of Appeals considered the issue of a Magistrate's authority to reconsider a decision issued by that Magistrate. 2023 COA 51 (June 8, 2023). In James, the Parties had consented to a Magistrate entering permanent orders. After orders were issued, Husband requested reconsideration per C.R.C.P. 59.. The Magistrate denied the motion citing a lack of authority to reconsider pursuant to C.R.M. 5(a). Husband then appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision finding that a Magistrate does not have the ability to reconsider his or her own decision regardless of whether the Parties consented to jurisdiction or not.

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