Craig Franklin Chambers, Attorney at Law

August 14, 2014

Why Does it Matter if My Case is Heard by a Judge or a Magistrate?

Denver Real Estate Law and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.41)  August 15, 2014 

By Craig Franklin Chambers  Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton,  CO 80120

The Littleton Lawyer.

As a Littleton attorney practicing  real estate, divorce and custody law in Denver, Englewood, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Lone Tree, Roxborough Park, and Bow Mar, I go before both Judges and Magistrates. I am often asked by clients: What is the difference?

The difference between a judge and a magistrate is that a judge is appointed by the governor through an appointment process and is periodically retained by the public during by an election.

A magistrate works beneath the judge as an appointee of the chief judge and works at the will of the chief judge. A judge is simply higher up than a magistrate. Both have the authority to render court decisions.

Because a judge goes through a more rigorous selection process, a judge is often preferred, especially in the County Court where the magistrates handle the more routine cases of temporary restraining orders, evictions, and collections.

If there is a magistrate on your case, depending on the type of case, you usually have the right to opt of magistrate and request a judge. This is usually at the first appearance or, within 14 days of the first appearance or the right to choose a judge over a magistrate is waived.

Why does this matter? In a normal case it doesn't, unless you are unhappy with the court's decisions. There is a different legal process, each with their own requirement and time constraints,  if you wish to challenge the rulings of a magistrate as opposed to a judge.

If you disagree with a magistrate's ruling, you cannot appeal.  Instead, you can file a motion called a Review of the Magistrate. This motion which challenges the magistrate's ruling is reviewed  by the judge who overseers the magistrate. Once the motion is filed, and all of the parties have the opportunity to respond, the judge reviews the motion and the record and determines if the magistrate was in error in his rulings.

On the other hand, if you disagree with a judge's ruling, you go through a much larger and more involved process of filing a Notice of Appeal, Designation of the Record,  and then eventually an appeal to Colorado Court of Appeals.

Hopefully, the case will go as you hope regardless of the type of judicial officer. If it doesn't, make sure you understand the different processes of challenging the rulings made a judge or a magistrate.

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    Denver Real Estate and Family Law Attorney

    Licensed to practice law in Colorado since 1997, I have a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from the University of Denver.

    7851 S. Elati St. #101 Littleton, CO. 80120

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