How to Appeal Your Case in Colorado: Part 2
Part 2: How to appeal your case in Colorado -or- How do I get a mistake or wrong verdict corrected?”
If you lost at trial and in your first appeal (or if you won your trial but lost on appeal), you are likely considering whether you should appeal again. This appeal would require you to be heard before the Colorado Supreme Court.
The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and the highest authority for Colorado state law. What that means is, if your issue is one of Colorado state law, the Colorado Supreme Court is the final word on your matter. (If your case involves any federal law, including a U.S. constitutional challenge, the U.S. Supreme Court is a higher authority.)
Your first appeal was an appeal by right—meaning the Court of Appeals had to hear your appeal. Appeals to the Colorado Supreme Court are not automatic—you have to convince the court your appeal should be heard. This is done by filing a certiorari petition (i.e. a document that explains to the Court why your case should be heard).
This is no simple task. In 2014, nearly 1,000 people, companies, etc. asked the Colorado Supreme Court to consider their cases. Of those, the Court reviewed less than 10%. In 2014, it issued only 88 written opinions out of 1,000 requests.
Because the Colorado Supreme Court receives too many requests to review every case, it only selects specific cases. It is not enough to tell the Court that your case came out the wrong way—even clearly explaining to the Court that the trial and/or appellate court made a mistake that caused you harm, cost you money, even sent you to jail—isn’t enough to get your case heard by the Colorado Supreme Court.
The Court is looking for more: you or your attorney needs to convince the Court that the Court of Appeals misinterpreted the law and that misinterpretation will affect many people in very significant ways. The Court needs to be convinced that, not only you were wronged, but society is or will also be wronged as a result.
How can you convince the Court your case will affect many people? It depends on what your case is about. For example, your case might address a matter of public policy—where the court’s ruling in the case will affect how a portion of society is run or how a large group of people can act or will be treated.
The Colorado Supreme Court will also attempt to resolve conflicts among its courts. If some appellate judges interpreted the law one way while other appellate judges interpreted it another, the Supreme Court is more likely to take your case to resolve which way is the correct way to view that law.
Before you spend time and money asking the Colorado Supreme Court to hear your case, consider speaking to an experienced appellate attorney to determine the likelihood that the Court will hear your case. The issue is not just whether the Court of Appeals reached the wrong conclusion; the Supreme Court needs to be convinced your case will have an effect on many people.