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​Trial Information

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This information is intended to give a general overview of trial procedures for those persons who represent themselves in the Thornton Municipal Court. It is not intended to provide rules of evidence or address situations that may arise during trial. It is intended to assist in the orderly presentation and disposition of trial matters to the Court.

If you choose to represent yourself in your trial, you are giving up your right to be represented by a lawyer. You must comply with the Colorado Rules of Evidence and the Rules of Criminal Procedure. You may not appeal on the ground that a lawyer did not represent you.

A special note for juvenile defendants: Your parent/guardian may sit with you and assist you in presenting your case by suggesting questions for you to ask or by taking notes during the proceeding for you to refer to. However, your parent/guardian may not act as your lawyer and may not ask questions for you. You must present your own case.

Prior to Trial

It is highly recommended that you obtain a copy of the ordinance with which you are charged. This information may be obtained from the City Clerk’s office.

If requested by the defendant, the Court Specialist will issue subpoenas to ensure the production of evidence on behalf of the defendant, but the service of the subpoena upon a defense witness is the sole responsibility of the defendant. Subpoenas should be secured by the defendant very soon after the trial date is set by the Court.

Trial To The Judge

The Court calls the case and the parties to the trial are asked if they are ready for trial. If all parties are ready for trial, the trial begins with opening statements. If the parties are not ready for trial, they must explain to the judge why they are not ready or what action is being requested prior to trial on which the judge must make a ruling.

​Opening Statements

Each party, the Prosecutor and the Defendant, are given the opportunity to make an opening statement. An opening statement is not required. The Defendant may reserve the opening statement until after the prosecution has rested its case, or it may be waived. The opening statement is intended to allow the parties to state to the Court what the evidence presented will show, and is not the time to argue the case. It is not evidence to be used by the Court in making a decision and is not a narrative of testimony to be given or statements to be made under oath.

City Prosecutor’s Case

The Prosecuting Attorney will call the City's witnesses, which may include a police officer. The Prosecuting Attorney will question the witnesses concerning any knowledge they may have of the facts in the case. After the Prosecuting Attorney finishes questioning a particular witness, the Defendant then has the right to cross-examine the witness. Cross examination means asking questions concerning the facts to which the particular witness has testified. This is not the time for the Defendant to testify. The cross-examination questions should be directed to the witness’ testimony to test the witness’ recollection of facts. Each witness is treated in the same fashion. After the cross-examination is completed, the Prosecuting Attorney will have the opportunity to conduct a redirect examination, which means the Prosecuting Attorney may ask additional questions only on facts or statements of a witness given on cross-examination.

When the Prosecuting Attorney is finished calling all the City's witnesses, the City will rest its case. The burden is upon the City to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt by competent evidence presented to the Court. If the City failed to prove its case at this point in the trial, the case may be dismissed.

When the City determines it has presented sufficient evidence to prove its case, then the City rests. Then the duty to proceed with the trial shifts to the Defendant.

Defendant’s Case

If the Defendant elects to proceed, he/she may testify under oath, but is not and cannot be required to testify. If the Defendant does testify, the Prosecuting Attorney has the right to conduct a cross-examination of the Defendant. The Defendant has the right not to testify; if they so choose, and the Court cannot, by law, infer guilt based on their decision not to testify. If the Defendant has any felony convictions on their record, the Prosecuting Attorney may ask about them. Also, the Defendant may have witnesses testify at this time in the trial. If the Defendant calls a witness they must ask the witness questions. The Prosecuting Attorney may cross-examine those witnesses.

If the Defendant has any documents or photographs to present into evidence, he/she must inform the Judge. Testimony should be restricted to the facts or charge before the Court. Testimony as to what someone said is not admissible as evidence unless the person who made the statement is present for cross-examination. Prior driving habits and prior driving records are not admissible as evidence at a trial.

At the conclusion of the testimony presented by or on behalf of the Defendant, the Prosecuting Attorney will be given the opportunity to call witnesses who may rebut the testimony of the Defendant and those witnesses. If the Prosecuting Attorney calls witnesses to rebut the Defendant or Defendant’s witnesses for the first time, the Defendant is allowed to call rebuttal witnesses.

If the defendant has questions about trial procedures, he/she may ask the Judge. While the Judge may not act as the Defendant's lawyer or help present the case, the Judge will answer procedural questions.

Conclusion of the Trial

When both sides have finished presenting their testimony and evidence, they will be given the chance to make a closing argument. The City makes the first argument, then the Defendant, and the City can then rebut the Defendant’s argument. Arguments must be based on the evidence presented at trial. A closing argument is each side’s summary of the matters presented to the Court as viewed by each party. Closing arguments are not required and are not received by the Court as evidence nor used to render a final decision. 

When all evidence is presented and final arguments are completed, if any, then a decision will be rendered by the Judge.

If a guilty verdict is rendered again the Defendant, the Judge will then decide on a sentence. Before announcing the sentence, the Defendant will be given the opportunity to tell the Court about favorable matters that should be considered while deciding on the sentence.

​Trial To A Jury

Empty courtroom bench The Court calls the case and the parties to the trial are asked if they are ready for trial. If all parties are ready for trial, the trial begins with the selection of a jury. If the parties are not ready for trial, they must explain to the judge why they are not ready, or what action is being requested prior to trial on which the judge must make a ruling.

Selecting a Jury

The Judge will ask questions of the jurors in order to determine whether they can be fair and impartial. The Defendant and Prosecutor will then be asked whether they have any legal challenges to any jurors. Examples of legal challenges are if a juror does not reside in the city limits of Thornton, the juror does not speak or understand English, or the juror has indicated a previous relationship with parties involved in the case. After this phase is completed, the Defendant will then have the opportunity of removing three jurors off the panel, alternatively with the City Prosecutor. Neither the Defendant nor Prosecutor have to give a reason for the decision for removing a juror during this phase. After each side has removed jurors, the remaining individuals will serve as jurors for the case. If the Defendant has questions during this process, the Judge will explain this process in further detail. 

Opening Statements

Each party, the Prosecutor and the Defendant are given the opportunity to make an opening statement. An opening statement is not required. The Defendant may reserve the opening statement until after the prosecution has rested its case, or it may be waived. The opening statement is intended to allow the parties to state to the Court what the evidence presented will show, and is not the time to argue the case. It is not evidence to be used by the Court in making a decision and is not a narrative of testimony to be given or statements to be made under oath.

City Prosecutor’s Case

The Prosecuting Attorney will call witnesses, which may include a police officer. The attorney will question the witnesses concerning any knowledge they may have of the facts in the case. After the Prosecuting Attorney finishes questioning a particular witness, the Defendant then has the right to cross-examine the witness. Cross examination means asking questions concerning the facts to which the particular witness has testified. This is not the time for the defendant to testify. The cross-examination questions should be directed to the witness’ testimony to test the witness’ recollection of facts. Each witness is treated in the same fashion. After the cross-examination is completed, the Prosecuting Attorney will have the opportunity to conduct a redirect examination, which means the Prosecuting Attorney may ask additional questions only on facts or statement of a witness given on cross-examination.

When the Prosecuting Attorney is finished calling witnesses, the City will rest its case. The burden is upon the City to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt by competent evidence presented to the Court. If the City failed to prove its case at this point in the trial, the case may be dismissed.

When the City determines it has presented sufficient evidence to prove its case, then the City rests. Then the duty to proceed with the trial shifts to the Defendant.

Defendant’s Case

If the Defendant elects to proceed, he/she may testify under oath, but is not and cannot be required to testify. If the Defendant does testify, the Prosecuting Attorney has the right to conduct a cross-examination of the Defendant. The Defendant has the right not to testify; if he/she so chooses, and the Court cannot, by law, infer guilt based on the decision not to testify. If the defendant has any felony convictions on his/her record, the Prosecuting Attorney may ask about them. Also, the Defendant may have witnesses testify at this time in the trial. If the Defendant calls a witness they must ask the witness questions. The Prosecuting Attorney may cross-examine those witnesses.

If the Defendant has any documents or photographs to present into evidence, they must inform the Judge. Testimony should be restricted to the facts or charge before the Court. Testimony as to what someone said is not admissible as evidence unless the person who made the statement is present for cross-examination. Prior driving habits and prior driving records are not admissible as evidence at a trial.

At the conclusion of the testimony presented by or on behalf of the Defendant, the Prosecuting Attorney will be given the opportunity to call witnesses who may rebut the testimony of the Defendant and his witnesses. If the Prosecuting Attorney calls witnesses to rebut the Defendant or Defendant’s witnesses for the first time, the Defendant is allowed to call rebuttal witnesses.

If the Defendant has questions about trial procedures, they may ask the Judge. While the Judge may not act as the Defendant's lawyer or help present their case, he/she may answer procedural questions.

​Conclusion of the Trial

When both sides have finished presenting their testimony and evidence, they will be given the chance to make a closing argument. The City makes the first argument, then the defendant; and the City can then rebut the Defendant’s argument. The Defendant's argument must be based on the evidence presented at trial. A closing argument is each side’s summary of the matters presented to the Court as viewed by each party. Closing arguments are not required, and are not received by the Court as evidence, nor used to render a final decision. 

When all evidence is presented and final arguments are completed, if any, then the Judge will provide written jury instructions, which the Defendant may review. If the Defendant objects to any, they must tell the Judge. The instructions will be read to the Jury and the Jury will then decide the case.

If a guilty verdict is rendered against the Defendant, the Judge will then decide on a sentence. Before announcing the sentence, the Defendant will be given the opportunity to tell the Court about favorable matters that should be considered while deciding on the sentence.

The cost of compensating jurors for their time is part of the fees assessed to the Defendant. If the Defendant is found not guilty at trial the Court pays for compensating the jurors.

​Fines, Fees and Restitution 

Collection of Fines and Fees

Fines and fees must be paid as soon as the Defendant has appeared in Court. If the Defendant is unable to pay they must fill out a financial affidavit and speak with the Collections Officer. The Collections Officer will determine, after review of the financial affidavit, if the defendant is eligible to be placed on a deferred payment schedule or qualifies for the Alternative Sentencing Program or Community Service. Payment extensions incur an additional fee.

Restitution and OJW Fees

Restitution and OJW fees must be paid; they cannot be worked off through the Alternative Sentencing Program or Community Service. Only the Judge may vacate, waive or reduce restitution or OJW fees.

​Court Dispositions 

The courtroom specialist documents the decisions and actions of the Court by computer, and marks exhibits for each court hearing and trial. The decisions and actions of the Court are available for release by telephone at 720-977-5400. If the decision or actions of the Court are needed in writing, they may be obtained for a normal copy fee, to be paid in person or by mail.

​Municipal Court Appeals

An appeal is a request for a higher court to review the ruling of a lower court. All appeals from Thornton Municipal Court go before the District Court of the 17th Judicial District and are based solely on the record made in the Municipal Court. A new trial is not conducted. All appeals are in accordance with the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 37.

The 17th Judicial District Court is located at 1100 Judicial Center Drive in Brighton, Colorado. The phone number is 303-659-1161.

PROCEDURE: 

Any sentence imposed at trial may be deferred if a bond in the amount of fines and costs is posted for the appeal. A bond will be set by the judge who presided at your trial if jail was imposed, provided you inform the judge of your intent to appeal.

A $165.00 deposit is required for the transcription of the record in your appeal. This amount is separate from the fines and costs. If the cost of the transcript does not exceed the deposit, the remainder, minus a $15.00 processing fee, will be refunded to you. If the cost does exceed the deposit, you will be billed. The final cost of the transcript is approximately $3.00 per page. The cost of the transcript is not refundable whether your appeal is granted or denied. The appeal will not be certified to District Court if the balance is not paid.

A Notice of Appeal, and the deposit must be filed with the Municipal Court located at 9551 Civic Center Drive, stating the alleged errors of the proceedings. You must also file a copy of this notice with the City Attorney’s Office either by mail or hand delivery at 9551 Civic Center Drive, at the same time it is filed with the Municipal Court.

You must also include with the Notice of Appeal, a Designation of Record on Appeal. This Designation outlines the evidence and specific proceedings that you wish to have transcribed and included in the record to be forwarded to the District Court. This must be done within thirty five (35) days from the date of sentencing or the denial of posttrial motions.

Further, you must also docket the appeal in the District Court, and pay a docket fee (currently $20.00; subject to change) within the same thirty five (35) days or the appeal may be dismissed by the Municipal Court Judge. PLEASE INFORM THE CLERK AT DISTRICT COURT THAT THIS APPEAL IS BEING FILED FROM A MUNICIPAL COURT CONVICTION.

After the transcript has been completed, (in approximately 40 days), the Court Specialist will give written notice to you, the City, and District Court. You and the City then have ten (10) days to file any written objections to the records. If objections are filed, a hearing will generally be held before the Municipal Court Judge to be ruled on, or if no objections are presented, the record will be certified to the District Court.

Within twenty (20) days after the record has been certified in District Court, you MUST file a written Brief in the District Court outlining the alleged errors made in your case. You must also give a copy of this brief to the City Attorney’s Office at the same time, either by mail or hand delivery. The city then has twenty (20) days from receipt to file an Answer Brief of which you will receive a copy. You then may file a Reply Brief within ten (10) days of your receipt of the Answer Brief.

After review of the record and briefs, the District Court Judge will issue a ruling on your case. This may consist of reversal of the Municipal Court decision, granting a new trial before the Municipal Court, modification of the Municipal Court decision, or affirmation of the Municipal Court decision. The District Court will rule only on the record. They will not hold an entirely new trial.

WARNING: THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE ADVISEMENT OF YOUR RIGHTS, OR ALL PROCEDURES YOU MUST FOLLOW TO PROPERLY APPEAL YOUR CASE. QUESTIONS OF A LEGAL NATURE MUST BE DIRECTED TO AN ATTORNEY. 

​17th Judicial District Court
Adams County Justice Center, 1100 Judicial Center Drive, Brighton, CO 80601  ​